LinkedIn – 12 of the biggest mistakes and how to avoid them

It is my pleasure to introduce an extremely knowledgeable and experienced guest blogger today.

James Potter.. Known to many simply as “The Linked In Man!”
I have known James for a few years and having nothing but the utmost respect for his depth of knowledge, insight and understanding of the LinkedIn platform which forms part of the ever shifting sands of social media today. If you have an opportunity to see James speak I would highly recommend it.

James on James
I am not a trainer who decided to specialise in LinkedIn. I’m a corporate Sales Director who learnt how to use LinkedIn – not by reading a book, but by playing around with it and seeing what worked in real life. It has enabled me to pull in engagements worth over £10 million in sales whilst in corporate life, build new relationships and inform clients about my breadth of value.

LinkedIn –  12 of the biggest mistakes and how to avoid them

, LinkedIn –  12 of the biggest mistakes and how to avoid them

People don’t know what to do, how to make it work and more so they try things, they dabble and they often unconsciously make decisions which seriously impact their success, their brand and their social selling potential.

There are so many way to fail with LinkedIn that when I started to write this blog I quickly got to 30 but it was too long so here is my top 12 mistakes I regularly see people make.


  1. How many times have you had this invite on LinkedIn? Dear James, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. Not very personal is it? Doesn’t make you feel special or valued as a connection really does it? Feels like what it is – a template, and I thought relationships with connections, contacts and potential clients was personal – maybe it’s just me. Don’t even get me started on the 100’s of ‘friends’ I have that I have never met or the 100′s of people who ‘have done business’ with me that I have never invoiced. Hardly a great start to a relationship to open up with a lie now is it?
  2. Forgetting your connections!
    My favourite question of the moment when I give a keynote talk is to ask the audience if they have contacted all of their clients since Christmas or New Year. Have you? Then what makes you think that they will recall you, your value, your services or your potential to help them in their professional business world? Talk, remind, share, comment, status and more to keep those relationships close and clients to keep coming back.
  3. Connected to thousands.
    I love meeting people, especially those connected to thousands of people. Why? Do you know them all? Do they know you? Do they refer work to you? Can you pick up the phone and talk to them? Why are you connected then? LinkedIn is a not a numbers game if you want to develop your social selling, your professional sales or networking skills then connect to good people, people you know and don’t philander around, you might catch something nasty, have your connections stolen or reputation tarnished.
  4. Being a spectator.
    Just stood there looking in, doing nothing, not interacting, not exchanging small talk with anyone, just being mute. And then you
    wonder why no one looks at you or finds you interesting … you’ve become wallpaper . You exchange small talk when you network, you talk to people you know and engage in wider conversation when you network in a room of people don’t you? Then why not just do that on LinkedIn.
  5. Oh yes I use LinkedIn but I didn’t know it did that …
    If I had a £ or $ for every time someone said that to me I’d be rich already. If LinkedIn isn’t emailing you a list of referrals to your perfect clients each week, you don’t pick up on the ripples of information from within LinkedIn, you don’t present a different version of your company for different audiences and you aren’t making sales via LinkedIn then I am afraid you have more things to learn about LinkedIn.
  6. I’ve got a profile.
    A profile is not enough! Being present on LinkedIn will not equal success in most cases. You need to take the right approach to build a professional network, reflect your value in your actions and do the right things.  If you want to check what your profile is like take our free test here.
  7. I don’t connect to my clients.
    Well then you are missing out on a huge potential. LinkedIn is the largest referral engine on the planet, if you use it properly. We all naturally network with people that look like us, so guess who clients network with? Yep, people that look like clients and assuming your clients are delighted with your services or products they would happily introduce you wouldn’t they.
  8. No telephone number.
    It constantly amazes me the people I see on LinkedIn courses  that do not have a set of contact details – you should read this blog. It is like you don’t want to talk to clients or something …
  9. No friends or family.
    One of the preconceptions of LinkedIn which I see a lot is that it is all about work, my job or role when in fact it is all about you, your personality, your value and the biggest asset you have – the people you know. Yet most people don’t think to include family or friends, why? Are they not nice people? Do you not want to be associated with them? Do you not think that they too might know some great people that you might find interesting. Bet you don’t go out with friends or family and open up with “have you met any directors in XXX industry this week?”  You wouldn’t would you! But LinkedIn knows who your connections know, so it can tell you. Now imagine the introduction you will get from a friend or family member to someone they know.
  10. Looking up people you meet but …
    Another interesting reaction is when you ask people if they look up people they are about to meet and this is greeted with smug head shaking enthusiasm. Then you ask if they realise that people look you up before they meet you? Oh how quickly the facial expressions change. Yes that’s right around 75% of people (according to Microsoft’s research) will look you up and then NOT talk to you. The good news is 85% will, assuming your profile reflects you and your value.
  11. Shouting buy my stuff!
    This isn’t social media where repetition and ‘shouting’ works (if you think that is the case then read this. That might work on Twitter or Facebook but it won’t work here. You need to remind, passively, about your value and leverage your insight, observation and network to make it work. Remind yes, over shout sell no.
  12. I spend hours there … why?
    Again this is not social media where you need to lose hours of your life to make it work. I often draw the analogy that LinkedIn is like having a bicycle in the garage and expecting to get fit – you won’t unless you pull it out and pedal it regularly. LinkedIn is just the same, constant and consistent rotation of the wheels in the right way, not hours of your life each week. I spend between 60 and 90 minutes a week, why spend longer?

Now be honest with yourself – how many did you fall into?

, LinkedIn –  12 of the biggest mistakes and how to avoid them

Making LinkedIn work is actually really easy and most of it isn’t understanding how the software works, it is about making it part of your life, doing the right things, doing what you normally do when you meet people and in leveraging the biggest referral engine on the planet to unlock your social sales. If that isn’t happening for you perhaps it’s time to go old school?

So, if you’re looking for an insightful, multi-disciplinary perspective on LinkedIn and how it can generate more sales, call me on +44 7802 392925. Alternatively, email me on to arrange an informal discussion.

Thank you to James for a very interesting and incredible useful article. You can find out more about him here. 
As always, your feedback and comments are very welcome

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