6 Stupid Mistakes Businesses Make On LinkedIn -- And What You Should Do Instead

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Photo: Kim Scarborough

Note: This post was originally published on OPEN Forum.

If you use LinkedIn correctly, it can be a marketing godsend.

You can form relationships with hundreds of potential customers and solidify your brand — without spending an arm and a leg.

Do it, wrong, however, and you won’t just embarrass yourself. You might actually hurt your company’s reputation, and your own.

How to do it right?

Learn the most common mistakes small business owners make on LinkedIn — and what to do about them.

Click here to see the 6 most common mistakes, and what to do instead >

Mistake: Coming on too strong in your profile

The answer:

Mistake: Promoting your product or service in a message or a group discussion

The answer:

Before contacting anyone, make sure you understand the number one rule of making connections on LinkedIn: keep it low-key.

In group discussions, don't ask questions or make comments that are obvious sales pitches. Instead, establish yourself as a key expert or resource by providing thoughtful, pithy observations.

Mistake: Failing to highlight the problems you solve for customers in your profile

Too often, small business owners describe the product or service they sell in their profile, without explaining what the benefits are.

Result: you miss the chance to stand out from the crowd.

The answer:

Mistake: Not taking advantage of all the capabilities available

The answer:

Mistake: Joining too many groups

By taking part in group discussions, you can attract a lot of positive attention.

But, join too many and you'll be spread too thin.

The answer:

Focus on two or three that are most likely to provide access to potential customers or partners.

Mistake: Inviting too many people you don't know

Do that a lot and you can get in a heap of trouble: you'll find yourself on a list of violators.

Then, if you want to invite somebody to join you, you'll need to have their email address to do so, according to O'Malley.

The answer:

Just don't do it. Make sure you know your invitees.

And be especially careful if you're inviting a lot of people at one fell swoop. O'Malley, for example, once invited 3,000 people, only to find that several of them were individuals with the same name as contacts he knew. He's never done that again.

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