Here Are 20 LinkedIn Do’s and Don’ts From Digital Marketing Pros

How to master the social network for your professional life

The professional platform is more relevant than ever, so it's time to brush up on tactics.

A couple weeks ago, I asked my 2,500-plus LinkedIn connections for do’s, don’ts and other tips about successfully using that social networking platform, which has achieved an impressive return to prominence in recent months. Dozens of suggestions flew in as comments on my call-for-submissions posts, via direct messages on the site or into my Adweek inbox.

From that flurry of ideas, here are 20 pieces of advice from 20 LinkedIn marketing pros.

1. Don’t be a stalker
Get the hint and move on, said Rick Smith, chief financial officer at Exos. “Don’t try to link with me more than once,” he said. “If I didn’t accept your invite the first time, I’m not going to accept it the second time. Plus … it’s kinda creepy.”

2. Do state your intentions
“It surprises me that people still send out blind invite requests,” said Raoul Didisheim, principal consultant at Marianna Media.

3. And validate your ‘asks’
When asking to connect with an individual via another person, investigate a little bit to see if there’s a real relationship going on. “Make sure they actually know the person and then validate your ask with the introducer to make sure it’s relevant,” said Ryan Valley, director at Smith Labs. “LinkedIn can be like a personal Yelp.”

4. Cool your jets if you do connect with ’em
Nick Malaperiman, head of marketing and mobile business at Capcom, recommended showing a healthy sense of patience after connecting with someone. “Don’t bug your new contacts within 10 minutes of linking with them with a tedious sales pitch,” he explained.

5. But ghosting invitation replies is lame
“Don’t reach out to connect and then ignore the acceptor’s request to chat or connect further,” remarked Tom Morrissy, president and founder of Morrissy and Vine Advisory. “[That’s] a real douchebag move, which is why I don’t accept blind invitations anymore unless there is a specific business purpose.”

6. Think one-to-one
“Utilize personalized, authentic messaging,” advised Brittany Simpson, digital marketing strategist at Site Strategics. “Don’t immediately approach with an ‘ask,’ but approach with a ‘give’ of some sort. Avoid preaching and aim to offer unique perspective on universal topics or issues.”

7. Pros don’t play out of context
Abstain from including “a selfie in a post where it is no way relevant to the post in question,” said William McCormick, PR and marketing manager at uSens. “This is a professional network and not a dating site or Instagram. It looks cheap.”

8. Hey B-to-B brands, do mix paid with organic
You should “test, rinse and repeat LinkedIn ads if you’re hoping to making money or generate customers off LinkedIn,” said Rich Young, director of marketing at Student Transportation. “Campaigning works, done right.”

9. Get granular with your settings
“I recommend taking the time to fully understand LinkedIn’s features, especially those related to privacy,” said Anna Julow Roolf, director of strategic initiatives at Blastmedia.

Roolf continued with this helpful detail: “LinkedIn has a lot of great features that can put you on the radar of the right people. However, some features that automatically opt you in—like LinkedIn’s ‘Mentioned in the News,’ which notifies people in your network when you’ve been mentioned in an article or blog post—don’t allow for customization. In fact, I’ve heard this specific feature referred to as ‘privacy nuking’ because it may broadcast information you don’t necessarily want to be spread or associated with your account, like a negative article mentioning your company or an article about someone else with your same name.”

10. Don’t be a lurker
“Engage with your connections—read, like, comment and share their posts,” said Christina Milanowski, social media director at Maccabee Public Relations. “Also, don’t blindly accept LinkedIn invites. It puts your professional reputation on the line. My rule of thumb is that I’ve met them in person and will remember them.”