The Dangerous World of LinkedIn

 

LinkedIn’s a great social network. Currently home to 145+ million users, it has a growth rate that is quite simply astonishing. It’s great for job seekers, it’s great for recruiters and it unquestionably rules the world of B2B. So basically it’s great, right?

Well, yes but as with everything in life it’s got its drawbacks. I’ve spoken previously about how LinkedIn can be an incredibly beneficial tool for job seekers (and of course other professionals) but today I want to discuss its dangers. What are the risks involved when using a LinkedIn account and what should you be avoiding?

I’m going to start with one of the hottest topics at the moment when it comes to social networking. This is something which has sparked global debate, and outrage in certain cases, and is probably the no.1 danger of LinkedIn. This is of course privacy. Now I’ve talked about privacy a little bit previous to this but in that case I chose to concentrate on the social media giant, Facebook (so if you’re worried about your privacy on Facebook then feel free to take a little look at that). But, as the title quite bluntly underlines, today is all about LinkedIn.

The problem with a social network is exactly that; it’s social. And the problem with that is the extreme difficultly to be simultaneously social whilst maintaining details about yourself to yourself. But the privacy issue with LinkedIn is not the same as it is with Facebook, or other social networks for that matter. In fact LinkedIn is one of the better social networking sites when it comes to account and profile privacy. The problem here lies in the user’s desire to share things about themselves without thinking carefully about who is going to see them. I’ll give you an example. I read an article on Forbes the other day which described the case of John Flexman, an employee of the gas exploration firm BG Group. I’m not going to go into too much detail about this specific case but basically Flexman had ticked the box highlighting his interest in “career opportunities” which resulted in him being fired. As crazy as that may seem, this is not an isolated incident. The details which you post on LinkedIn are going to be looked at, so make sure not to include information which could easily be misinterpreted!

But it’s not just selecting the options that LinkedIn gives you that causes problems. Many of you job seeking LinkedIn users will have included a summary on your profile. A little blurb about yourself which you think sums you up. Unfortunately, the way you describe yourself may not look as good through someone else’s eyes as it sounds in your head. I’ve read countless summaries which include paragraphs of irrelevant waffle that will immediately turn a potential employer into someone who’s never going to look at your profile again. Remember there’s difference between LinkedIn and a network like Facebook. Yes, LinkedIn is a social network but it’s also the professional one. I’m not saying you should make your profile over professional and incredibly boring but if you’re a job seeker my advice to you is simple: Use the summary as your job pitch. Tell them, whoever they might be, why you should get the job. Keep your stories about your crazy hobbies etc for your personal friends.

Another thing which is partially relevant to the privacy issue is the profile picture. Whoever visits your profile, or comes across you in a search, the first thing they will look at is your profile picture. So you would think the users of the professional network would take this into consideration and upload a suitable picture. Yet, the number of times I have come across a picture of someone drinking a beer or lying on a beach is quite simply astonishing. It’s fair enough that you want your LinkedIn profile to have personality, but a silly profile picture is not the way to go.

So there are just a few things which can cause problems on LinkedIn. Whether you’re a job seeker or currently employed the overall message is the same: Don’t rush the creation of your LinkedIn profile, don’t throw LinkedIn into the same pile as Facebook and ultimately make sure every bit of information, text or anything else that is visible is something you want people to see. And most importantly, if you avoid the problems, LinkedIn really is a great tool.

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  1. Your Professional Secret Weapon: Linkedin | Value Hour Blog

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