LinkedIn is the number one way to grow your small business in 2019, but it can be a scary platform to jump into, especially in the growth stages of your business.

It’s a place where people in all industries can go to forge new relationships with new prospects, catch up with old colleagues all the while demonstrating their experience and expertise.

With such an important platform, the last thing you want to do is look like an amateur (or worse open yourself up to trolls (unfortunately they do exist on LinkedIn) by making a mistake (how dare you!))

To help you get started, we compiled a list of things you’ll want to avoid if you can:

1.1 Not having a profile photo. This might seem like a no-brainer, but not having a photo can have a big impact on the overall appearance of your profile.

1.2 Using an unprofessional profile photo. When using a funny or relaxed/easygoing photos you may think it makes you look more approachable, but in fact, maybe putting prospective customers off.

Pictures to avoid – playing spots (unless your brand is sports related), drinking at the bar, sunbathing on the beach, group pictures, topless photos (men (and women, but that’s obvious)), this might sound like a random mix, but these are all photos we’ve seen (apart from topless women).

1.3 using a poorly-cropped profile photo. It’s quite common to see profile photos that are not sized correctly for LinkedIn.

2. Not updating your contact information. It’s important to keep your information up-to-date. Why? You want your prospects to be able to be able to contact you easily.

3. Not completing your entire profile. Having an incomplete profile doesn’t only make your profile stand out (in a bad way), but it will also turn off prospects who can’t see your accomplishments or what you can offer!

4. Not including a personalised message. With every connection request you send out, you should always include a personal message. Messages with a personal note make it more likely someone will connect with you.

5. Not posting appropriate content. LinkedIn is a professional networking site. The sort of content you’d see on Facebook, might not be appropriate on LinkedIn, avoid meme’s, lunch pictures and posts of a personal nature. Keep content professional and relevant.

6. Not proofreading your posts. An extra comma here and a misspelt word there may be forgiven every now and again, but it does make you look less professional. Keep posts as grammatically correct as possible.

7. Not being selective about the connections you accept.  Don’t accept just every invite that comes your way, make sure that they are within your target audience.

8. Sending too many connection requests. Don’t bombard the same people with request after request. It gets annoying. Make sure you only connect with your target audience and only resend a connection invite out if it’s been a few months between connections.

If you get too many ‘I don’t know this person’ flags your profile will be restricted.

9. Not being truthful about your responsibilities and accomplishments. Don’t embellish about what you do; it’s just better not to be liberal with the truth when it comes to your role and responsibility, people will soon see through it and could lead to a damaged brand.

10. Not asking for endorsements or recommendations. These are the things that can boost your LinkedIn credibility. A good recommendation tells people that you are a trustworthy expert, and boosts your reputation in your target audience industry.

11. Not using visual media If a picture is worth a 1000 words, how many is a Video worth?

Don’t forget to add pictures and video where appropriate to help you stand out from the crowd, make sure they are professional looking and not blurry smartphone images.

12. Not joining the right groups.  The groups you choose to join, are visible on your profile. Make sure they’re relevant to your industry and reputable, then make sure you post in it.

13. Not letting people know you’re on LinkedIn.  Include links to your profile on your email signature, your mailing list and your business cards.

14. Too much self-promotion. Don’t just share what you do on LinkedIn, provide tips, advice and guidance that will provide value to your contacts.

15. Not customising your professional headline. The professional headline is the text right below your name. Customise it so that it grabs attention and lets your contacts know what you actually do.

16. Not having a LinkedIn profile! LinkedIn is perfect for B2B and B2c organisations; it is a valuable tool for growing your network and finding opportunities that other marketing and social networking channels can’t provide.