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8 Ways to Look Like an Idiot on LinkedIn

I was just scrolling through my LinkedIn feed and stopped dead in my tracks (er, scroll).

Someone in my network named Andrew left a comment on a sponsored post (aka, ad). In this comment, he helpfully pointed out to a big database marketing company that their ad made it sound like they had deliverability issues. Instead of boasting about their all-in-one capabilities, the wording in this ad came across as “we can’t deliver your marketing messages.”


We all know that LinkedIn is about sharing valuable, business-related information that your target market and/or network cares about. But as the story above illustrates, it’s super easy to mess up. Even if you have the best of intentions, making a mistake on LinkedIn is very public, and therefore it’s a very efficient way to quickly damage your reputation.

And we definitely do not want that to happen!

Let’s look at some other ways you could accidentally look like an idiot on LinkedIn.

Unprofessional profile photo

You know what I’m talking about. Blurry. Weird cropping. Bourbon Street debauchery, sandy beaches, or the Eiffel Tower in the background. Glamor shots. Obvious drunkenness.

Spend the money to get a professional headshot taken. Tiny budget? Contact a nearby college and find out if they have a photography program. I bet a student would take your photo for $50.

Photos of swag

Getting free crap, I mean swag, at work is not interesting – unless you are a member of the Screen Actors Guild and nominated for an Oscar. In that case, I definitely want to see what’s in your swag bag.

Otherwise, keep that photo of the canvas tote bag stuffed with squeeze balls, pens, notebooks, water bottles, coffee mugs, Frisbees, and lip balm to yourself. No one cares.

Personal photos

I’ve got one word for you: Facebook.

Personal posts


Religious quotes tied to business results

No. Just no. The exceptions: you are a minister, priest, rabbi, imam, nun, monk, or otherwise work within or for a religious institution.

Political stuff

See above, but our exceptions here are slightly different: you work for a political party, PAC, or foundation affiliated with a political party, or you are a politician.

Promoting gated resources in a LinkedIn Group

Self-promotion has a time and a place on LinkedIn, and that place is not in a LinkedIn Group. Groups are built for discussions. Your purpose as a member is to share and obtain new information, not grow your email list.

As Lisa J. Dyer says, “Promotions for free resources (that you have to subscribe to a newsletter to download) in groups aren’t meant to spark discussion. There are ways to share resources like that, but when it’s done in a non-discussion way it feels like a trap.”

Faking it

Most people can sniff through the fake, the inauthentic, and the illegitimate, so why would you want to pretend to be an expert in an area you know nothing about? It requires so much effort!

Plus, you probably won’t know if you make a mistake or provide misleading or outright false information. Other people will notice, though, and once they do, you’ll quickly find yourself smack dab in the middle of idiot territory. Yikes.

Worried about your LinkedIn profile, marketing strategy, or ad campaigns? Give us a shout – we’ll be happy to talk through your current efforts and your overall goals.

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