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In Part 2 of the 10 Common Mistakes article, I will cover the remaining 5 areas which are not widely understood by LinkedIn users but are crucial in the way that the LinkedIn platform can make or break your networking efforts, it’s the difference between just being “on LinkedIn” versus being “in LinkedIn”.


6. No or few Groups.
7. Job hunting & broadcasting it.
8. Don’t know how to use Settings.
9. Spamming Groups without realizing it.
10. You don’t know how to Search (Try “Colleague Cycling”).


6. No or few Groups.
As of March 29, 2012 there were 1,248,019 LinkedIn Groups. On average, LinkedIn users join 5 Groups. The maximum allowance of Groups is 50 per user. In other words, the vast majority of LinkedIn users are wasting 90% of their Groups bandwidth. Why is this bad for your networking potential? One major reason:

Groups are the equivalent of a free database of contacts. If you join a Group with 10,000 members, you can (a) search the entire Group for fellow group members and (b) contact them for free. A few caveats – you need to be able to join the Group in the first place and the Group member who you wish to contact needs to have the communications option (Group Members can contact him/her) switched on (the default setting). Need other reasons for joining more Groups? It’s a lot easier to engage with a prospect if you have something in common, being a member of the same LinkedIn Group, is a step in the right direction. How you present yourself online matters professionally, anyone can see your LinkedIn Profile (unless you change those default visibility & privacy Settings). A limited list of Group memberships could be interpreted as a narrow focus or a lack of familiarity with LinkedIn networking strategy, or both. You couldn’t find 50 out of nearly 1.3 million Groups that interested you? Really?


7. Job hunting & broadcasting it.
I already outlined the kind of activity that could signal job-hunting in a prior post. I want to focus on the ‘broadcast’ of this activity and how to ensure that you have that stuff locked down. The first thing that is worth repeating is that: no matter what you change in Settings, EVERYTHING & ANYTHING you do with or in Groups is broadcasted to all and sundry, in other words, Group activity is the perpetually open mike. Adding an application to your profile, or updating your photo also generates an update that cannot be prevented by turning your activity broadcasts off. I emphasize Group activity because frankly, what you do with apps or your photo, is not going to say anything conclusive about your job-hunting. They have a largely neutral effect. What you do or say in Groups can be revealing.


Here’s how to cover your (job-hunting) tracks in your Settings:


Go to Settings (under your Name).




The Account Password prompt will appear, enter your Password.


In Profile / Privacy Controls, click on “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts”.
















Un-tick the “Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies” box to stay silent.


Click on “Select who can see your activity feed”, select “Only you”







If you need to be Anonymous when surfing other Profiles, click on “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile”, and choose the third option “You will be totally anonymous.”










Congratulations – you have now taken control of your LinkedIn public presence.


8. Don’t know how to use Settings.
Settings are automatically set by default to grow the LinkedIn network. Some of these Settings may not always work for you or your situation. Job-hunters are the example I just gave above. I would encourage all LinkedIn users to experiment with the Settings and discover what works best for you. Here are some important Settings to understand:


Email preferences. “Select who can send you invitations”.













I strongly believe that it is in everyone’s interest to go with the first (default) setting: “Anyone on LinkedIn”. If you choose any of the other options, you make it incredibly difficult to grow your network. You end up with a artificially constrained network, you miss out on opportunity and you fail to fully leverage the potential of a 187m-strong professional network. Don’t be that guy (or girl).



“Groups, Companies & Applications”. If you are feeling inundated with email from LinkedIn you can turn off the spigot at “Set the frequency of group digest emails”.













I know people who have left great Groups because they didn’t know they could control the email at source. Best practice would be to periodically tune into a weekly digest of every Group you belong to, so that you can determine whether the information being sent out is relevant or useful. “Daily Digest” is the default setting.


9. Spamming Groups without realizing it.
There’s a “Share to Groups” option which will get you banned from Groups the instant you use it. It’s very rare that what you post will have relevance across a wide variety of LinkedIn Groups. When people use this feature they show a complete lack of care and comprehension. The smart way to ensure that your post gets published in a LinkedIn Group is to ingratiate yourself with the Group Manager and engage prior to posting. As a Group Manager, it amazes me that people use the “Share to Groups” scattergun approach and then wonder why their access to these Groups has been blocked, often permanently. Regardless of whether you think the share is useful content or not, you will be labeled as a spammer and the doors to many of the Groups you belonged to will be firmly slammed shut. Not worth the risk.


10. You don’t know how to Search (Try “Colleague Cycling”).
The majority of LinkedIn users quickly become frustrated by their seeming inability to find key people without having to pay for the privilege. Let me break search down for you and show you how I leverage the free LinkedIn search tool. There are fundamentally only two types of search that you will ever perform on LinkedIn:

(i) Full Name
(ii) No Name

‘Full Name” is the situation where you know the identity of the person and you want to find them on LinkedIn. Full name searches are relatively simple and don’t need an explanation.


I want to focus on the second scenario. ‘No Name’ is the situation where you only know the function and organization i.e. Sales Director of X Company. I’ll use “Sales Director Abbott” as an example.




Step 1. Type “Sales Director Abbott” into the People search bar















Step 2. I want to target the Sales Director in Abbott’s Los Angeles region, so “Kate F” is the person I want to engage. But “Kate F” is not enough data and I’m only seeing some aspects of her Profile (her Groups are hidden).


Step 3. LinkedIn has hidden her Last Name. I can find this out using various methods; use TinEye or Google Image Search (see my earlier post) and find out her Last Name by searching on her Profile picture or I can do a Google search on her particulars (Regional Sales Director,Abbott Oncology, Greater LA). But there’s another technique which not only gets me her full name (and LinkedIn Profile) but also gives me the big picture.  I do this by looking at “Viewers of this profile also viewed…”, bottom right of her Profile. I want to stick fairly close to my original search parameters so I’m looking for other “Sales Directors/Managers” with “Abbott”.

















Step 4. I click on Stephen Tindell’s Profile (Regional Sales Manager, Abbott), which leads me to Richard Pena’s Profile (Regional Sales Manager, Abbott).
























Step 5. I find Kate on Richard Pena’s Profile. It only took me 3 clicks to find her! Cycling through Kate’s colleagues and peripheral network is a clever backdoor way to find  people on LinkedIn. This advanced search technique is incredibly powerful since it (a) gives me access to her Full Name Profile and (b) allows me to map an accurate outline of Kate, her colleagues and the functional matrix she operates within. This is valuable intelligence for recruiters, job-seekers, sales pros and frankly anyone who understands the premise that knowledge is power.










When I analyze her Profile, I can tell that Kate is a savvy LinkedIn operative, she has 500+ connections (a potential open networker) and has joined her full entitlement of 50 Groups. In other words, she may be amenable to connecting with me, providing my overture is relevant and there are 50 ways to engage with her (if I don’t have a premium account/inMail option) via Groups. Remember, I can only see her Group memberships once I have accessed her Full Name Profile. Hiding Last Names and Group memberships is one of the ways that LinkedIn tries to sell premium membership packages.


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That’s all from me for this week. Please take a few moments to share this article with your network. I read and respond to all comments.

By Andy Foote