I entered the recruiting industry about the same time social media started gaining popularity. From the beginning, it was impressed upon me the importance of having a strong LinkedIn network. So I began connecting with as many people as I could in various industries whom I felt would be good allies should I ever need to recruit in those industries. Additionally, I joined several groups, including several Open Networker groups, letting the LinkedIn community know that I welcomed invitations to connect. Naturally, as my network grew, so did the number of invitations I received. But as I continued to receive invitations to connect, it became obvious that many of these invitations were not from real people, but rather from fake LinkedIn profiles.
Why Do Users Create Fake Profiles?
I have since read several articles about how and why people create fake LinkedIn profiles. There seem to be a number of reasons, and certainly none of them are good. After all, if their creators’ intentions were pure, they would not need fake profiles. Most likely, the primary reason is for the purpose of gathering data. Dozens of fake profiles will likely achieve more connections than one authentic profile, thus allowing the creator to gather e-mail addresses, Twitter handles and any other information that can be sold to spam sites, sites that promise to increase your connections or followers for a price, or worse, any pertinent info that can be used for identity theft.
The thing that I find most interesting, however, is that all the fake LinkedIn profiles from whom I receive connection invitations all share the same characteristics:
- The first and last names are always in all lowercase letters. About 50 percent of the time, there is a period directly before the last name.
- The profile has very few connections – usually less than 50, sometimes even less than 10.
- Personal info is very limited. There are almost always two or three previous employers listed, a position title, and no other information.
- The photo is always generic. It’s usually a picture of something other than a person, and when it is a person’s photo, it appears to be a photo taken from the internet of someone doing something other than posing for a photo.
- The profile is almost always from Pakistan. I have no idea why, but nearly every fake profile connection request I receive lists Pakistan as the location.
Now, I understand the reasons for creating a fake LinkedIn profile…. Read Why and the Complete TheUnderCoverRecruiter article
Does your LinkedIn profile make it look like you’re hiding something? Five quick, essential updates.
LinkedIn has become the de facto–and therefore the most powerful–social network for business. In case you weren’t yet aware, LinkedIn is rolling out a revamp of the user profile. While the change has elicited a mixed reaction, eventually everyone will be migrated to it. So if you haven’t spent much time learning about and optimizing your LinkedIn profile, now is a good time to get cracking.
Time, or lack thereof, shouldn’t be an excuse: Each of these tips should take you five minutes or less, and you’ll end up with a more engaging profile that gets more hits and better results.
1. Upload your photo. These days, if you don’t have your photo on LinkedIn, you look like you’re hiding something. People want to see the people whom they plan to interview or do business with. Unlike in personal social networks like Facebook or Twitter, the expectation on LinkedIn is a photo in which you look polished and professional. Be ready for your close-up: If you can, use a headshot rather than a full-body pose or group photo.
Uploading your photo is easy. Just click the Profile link on the menu and then Edit Profile. In the dedicated space for your photo, you will see a camera icon.
Once you click the camera icon, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can upload or edit your photo. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
2. Customize your Professional Headline. Your Professional Headline appears next to your photo, under your name. This headline can be completely customized. Professional headlines help explain to people who you are, not just what you do, so you may want it to be different and more descriptive than your ordinary job title. The words in your headline are also indexed in search engines, so put them to work.
You customize your professional headline in the same edit profile screen into which you upload your photo. Click on the word Edit (older profiles) or the pencil icon (newer profiles) and enter a headline that best describes you. You have a 120 character maximum.
3. Enrich your Summary with relevant keywords. LinkedIn’s Summary enables you to describe yourself, your work history, your background and any other attributes you think will help you sell yourself when making and seeking connections. That alone should give you good reason to be deliberate when crafting your Summary. But in addition to the power of those words with the people who read them, you can also impact your visibility in search engines with the keywords you choose to weave into your Summary. You have 2,000 characters, so go for it!
(Yeah, it’s kind of nice to be listed 3rd out of 52 million results!)
What separates the master networkers from the amateurs? The former tend not to make these mistakes.
Lots of articles describe how to create a more marketable LinkedIn profile, how to find the right groups to join, how to choose the best profile photo… I should know, I’ve written about that. Oh, and that. Yep, and that too.
Since most people understand the value of taking those steps, let’s go deeper. To really harness the power of LinkedIn, don’t make these mistakes:
1. You give only because you expect to receive.
Connect with people on LinkedIn and you can write a recommendation that gets displayed on their profiles.
That’s awesome, unless you’re only giving recommendations because you want one in return. Then it’s tacky.
For example, say you’re a plumber. A pipe burst and we call you at three in the morning. You immediately rush over, fix the leak, and save us from inadvertently converting our basement into a swimming pool. I’m extremely grateful and I write you a deservedly glowing recommendation.
Then I ask you to write a recommendation for me.
The problem is, you don’t know me professionally. The only thing you really know about me is that I could be heard in the background screaming like a little girl when my wife called you. How can you recommend me? You can’t. You shouldn’t. And you shouldn’t be asked to.
Give sincere recommendations. Recommend because you want to, not because you expect to receive a recommendation in return. The people who know and respect you may return the “favor.” If so, great; if not, also great. Either way you’ve given credit where credit is due.
2. You don’t give at all.
Great networking is based on giving, not receiving. Endorsements are an easy way to give: Go to someone’s profile, click a few boxes, maybe click a few plus signs–done.
Endorse another person’s skills and you not only give them a virtual pat on the back, you may also help them show up in search results.
Show other people you respect their skills. Sure, it may be a good networking move, but making other people feel good about themselves is reason enough.
3. You wait until you have a need.
If you put off making solid connections until the day you need something–customers, employees, a job, or just a better network–then you’ve waited too long. Think about where you someday want to be and start now to build the connections, the network, and the following that will support those goals.
Building great connections is a parallel, not a serial, task. Later is always too late.
4. You forget where you are.
Most people use LinkedIn as a professional social media platform. So when you want to leave comments, share material, etc., consider letting your freak flag fly somewhere else. You never know when a potential employer, employee, customer, vendor–anyone–may notice.
Safe, at least where being professional is concerned, means never having to feel sorry.
5. You ignore the signs.
LinkedIn clearly aspires to be more than a place where millions of professionals make connections.
In less than two years LinkedIn Today has become an extremely powerful news aggregator. Landing an article on a category page generates a flood of traffic; landing an article on the home page can crash your servers.
LinkedIn Today now provides original content from “thought leaders” and allows you–whether you are connected to the person or not–to follow those individuals, comment directly on their posts, share their content with your network, etc. Currently only “influencers” can be followed (Richard Branson has over a million) but it’s safe to assume that someday all users will be able to directly post their own content and build their own followings.
What’s next? I don’t know. All I know is something will be next. Pay attention, look ahead, and start positioning yourself now.
Smart people get the most out of a tool. Really smart people do too, but they also plan for how to get the most out of what a tool may become.
Considering that LinkedIn profiles are the most viewed pages on LinkedIn, and your profile page really is every professional’s starting place to claim and create their own professional brand, the new user interface for LinkedIn profiles should be viewed as the most significant update to LinkedIn in 2012. While I’ve blogged about LinkedIn profile tips in the past, it’s time to take a look at the new user interface and determine how to maximize the new profile for 2013 and beyond. While not everything has changed, here are the key areas in which you should focus your efforts to get your profile up to speed:
1.) Don’t Forget the Basics: Photo, Name & Professional Headline
The fact of the matter is that the People Search functionality of LinkedIn should be viewed as Google Search for Professionals. With that in mind, similar to the importance of the headline of a web page that appears in Google (in addition to Google Authorship, but I digress…), what others see prominently featured in LinkedIn search results are your photo (which should look professional), your name (which should be displayed in full without any gimmicky nicknames), and a truly unique and “branded” professional headline to increase the inbound marketing power of your LinkedIn profile. For most of you, that means you should probably be looking at taking a new photo as well as taking a look at your professional headline and ensuring it still represents your current objectives. It should also be noted that in the new user interface, the above three features do appear slightly more prominent as well (bigger size photo, name in bold, less noise to make your professional headline stand out more), so doing this is all the more important.
2.) Make Your Profile More Discoverable
Unless you try to edit your profile you won’t see it, but LinkedIn has created more granular ways for you to decide which specific profile content you want to make more visible. Assuming that you are on LinkedIn to be found, it makes sense that you would want your entire profile visible to the public search engines. However, even though my profile has always been set to be as publicly on display as possible, I noticed that the new LinkedIn settings meant that certain sections were NOT being exposed to search engines. Below is the screenshot of what my settings looked like when I first saw them. You’ll want to make sure that you check off every box like I ended up doing.
3.) Get Active!
In the world of online marketing, what appears “above the fold” on your website is critical in that this is the content a viewer will see without having to scroll down. What features prominently in the new profile is your “Activity,” or status updates as well as other actions that you perform on LinkedIn, which wipes out all but the title of your professional summary. This makes your most recent LinkedIn status update all the more crucial as it will be featured rather prominently above the fold and visible to all who view your profile. LinkedIn’s decision to prevent you from automating publishing every tweet as a status update was a welcome move to make your network updates more professional, but you still need to ask yourself before posting any status update if they are truly 1) professional and 2) aligned with your branding. You also want to make sure you post at a certain frequency, say a minimum of once a week, so that your latest update doesn’t seem stale and out of date. You can easily use LinkedIn Today to curate relevant content to share with your network, so now’s the time to make that feature part of your LinkedIn routine.
4.) Create Your Professional Gallery
When LinkedIn announced that they were discontinuing their LinkedIn Events application, it wasn’t clear at the time what LinkedIn was really doing. Sometime ago LinkedIn had already stopped supporting the Google Presentations application, which was the preferred method I recommended to embed a video into your LinkedIn profile. Now we realize what has happened: LinkedIn has stopped supporting the applications platform in its entirety. Instead, LinkedIn has taken the wise move of simply allowing you to add any visual type of content (i.e. video, photo, presentation, document, etc.) into your LinkedIn profile by simply inserting a link. This is truly an eloquent way of supercharging your professional branding by adding some powerful visual context to it. Below is a sample of what I have done, mixing together SlideShare presentations, YouTube videos (not only my own but others that I have appeared in), and even an Instagram photo!
Two things to note about this new Professional Gallery: 1) You can edit the titles (which appear in the above thumbnails) as well as the description (which will appear when someone views your specific content) and 2) You can add your professional gallery both at the end of your Professional Summary (which I would recommend) as well as below any of your work experience or education positions (which you may want to additionally do if you have a lot of visual content that you want to sprinkle amongst various parts of your profile OR for those types of content which may not be as relevant to your current professional branding or objectives).
If you’re like many of my clients, you know you need to be more active on LinkedIn. But, you feel like you don’t know where to start. Right?
Once you get a professional headshot up and your summary written, there’s a lot to tackle. Should you be more active in LinkedIn Answers? Participate in discussions in Groups? Start listing the books you’ve read? Where to begin?
To avoid feeling overwhelmed, you might want to start with the familiar. You are probably already on Facebook (as there are now almost one billion users, it’s kind of hard to avoid). If you feel pretty comfortable posting status updates to your friends, why not start using LinkedIn with that same approach?
It’s not terribly different. You’re sharing the things that interest you, or that will be helpful to the people you know. It’s just in the professional realm instead of the personal. (Although if you are in an industry that relies on a personal connection, I think it’s OK to blur the lines slightly.)
Just like Facebook, you are sharing things that represent your interests and personality. The difference is that you’re keeping it professional and building your personal brand. If you’re not familiar with personal branding, you can learn a bit about this by reading my post, “Why You Should Care About Personal Branding.”
Basically, it’s the essence of who you are at work. Your posts on LinkedIn can be a huge tool in promoting your brand. It can help your network get to know what you are all about professionally. With the right types of posts, they’ll soon appreciate your expertise!
So, back to the question, where do you start? And, if you are going to start with status updates, what posts should a job seeker be making? Well, I can tell you what you don’t want to post!
Please do not post, “I’m in a job hunt, anyone have leads for me? Who’s hiring?” This screams desperation. Plus, it’s not specific enough to have your network help you.
So, to let the world know you are looking, without saying it directly, you’ve got some options. Post about:
- Networking events, meetings, or seminars you are attending. (“Having a great time at my weekly job club!”)
- People you are meeting in your search. (“Got some great tips from my job search coach today!”) Give them kudos and recommendations, when appropriate.
- Links to helpful articles, websites, blog posts, or videos written by well-respected subject matter experts that your network will benefit from. (“These are some insightful points about the rebound of the _______ market.”)