Fake LinkedIn profiles are not okay, Okay

Okay App

Would you imagine that a new company has profiles on the business social network LinkedIn that build up a solid picture of smart and influential staff members working for a legitimate business – yet the profiles are fakes?

That’s what Okay App has done according to Hans Kullin, who writes about his suspicions being proven after he received a couple of requests to connect:

[…] It didn’t take much investigation to find out that these LinkedIn profiles were completely fake, as were several others from the same app company. First of all, their resumés were very short and looked a lot like each other. Then there was the obvious fact that their profile pictures were stolen, unless one of them was the identical twin of a Miss Ecuador 2012 contestant. The photo of “Chloe Anderson” is in fact the Norwegian model Polina Barbasova.

linkedin-chloe-500x176

[…] Why would anyone do this on purpose, one might ask. I suspect the answer is to get in touch with online influencers who in turn would spread the word about the app in social media.

Wearing my devil’s advocate hat for a moment, it could just be overly-earnest employees, maybe simply sharing a copy-and-paste boilerplate CV text with each other and taking “the Facebook approach” to using a photo of a favourite celebrity or glamorous star instead of one that’s the real you.

Definitely not a good idea on a place like LinkedIn where the intertwining of what you say, how you present yourself and the networking, recommendation and verification effects are largely built on trust.

If they don’t know better, a good place to look is LinkedIn itself which has some handy tips on how to create an effective LinkedIn profile.

So, assuming Okay App is a legit business – the CEO’s LinkedIn profile looks real enough – I’d say they have a trust mountain to climb. How big a mountain depends on what they do to address accusations of fakery, especially if Hans’ story gains traction. If LinkedIn profiles are fakes, what else might not be real?

Introducing "FIR presents Linked Conversations with Chuck Hester"

The FIR Podcast Network is pleased to announce a new podcast focused on getting the most from the LinkedIn business network that will begin later this month. Presenter Chuck Hester explains…

LinkedInI’ve known Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson for many years, and have enjoyed hearing – and learning from – For Immediate Release from the beginning.

So, when they suggested that I host a podcast about LinkedIn for the FIR Podcast Network, I was honoured.

You see, I’ve been a speaker, author and LinkedIn Maven and Power Connector for more than 7 years, and truly believe in how the platform can change business lives. I’m also a Pay it Forward advocate and use LinkedIn to help others on a regular basis.

During that time, I have used LinkedIn to secure two different corporate jobs, land countless numbers of speaking gigs and meet some of the most interesting people in the world.

For some, LinkedIn is a massive, 240 million person social media network that is both fascinating and intimidating. My goal with the new podcast is to highlight the fascinating and make it less intimidating.

Each week, on FIR’s Linked Conversations, I’ll show you how to use LinkedIn, talk with a guest about their experience in leveraging the platform and bring you a few tips on making the most of the most powerful social business tool on the web.

So join me for Linked Conversations right here on the FIR Podcast Network!

Chuck.

Chuck HesterChuck Hester is a LinkedIn power connector with more than 13,000 direct connections.  He is a sought-after expert on the subject of using LinkedIn for media relations, personal and professional branding, and how to use social media to build business contacts. He’s addressed conferences in Canada, Australia and throughout the United States.

The Chief Connections Officer at Chuck Hester Enterprises, Chuck helps businesses get their stories told through influencer relations, good old fashioned PR strategies and hard work.  He also offers LinkedIn Corporate Boot Camps that help businesses maximize their use of LinkedIn, find and retain customers and enhance their social media footprints.

You can find Chuck on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/chuckhester. Follow him on Twitter at @chuckhester.

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

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Fine-tune your LinkedIn profile with Endorsements

endorsed

If you use LinkedIn, the social network for business, you’ll very likely be interested in a new feature LinkedIn is rolling out that gives you the ability to rate the people in your network on their skills and expertise.

Others in your network can do the same for you if they choose to.

LinkedIn Endorsements lets you “endorse” your connections for a skill they’ve listed on their profile or recommend one they haven’t added yet. In other words, you’re recommending an individual for a particular skill or expertise you think they’re good at.

When someone endorses you, or you give one of your contacts an endorsement, it shows up on your LinkedIn profile if you click the ‘Add to Profile’ button in the notification you receive. That way, you have control over what appears on your profile that others say about you, just as you do with the current recommendations you write about people or they write about you.

What I find especially appealing about this idea of endorsements is the opportunity it offers for anyone to help anyone else fine-tune their skills and expertise list.

For instance, you might have chosen keywords that appear in the Skills & Expertise section of your profile that now don’t best reflect what you actually do in your work: they may have when you first created them, or you’re doing some new things now, and perhaps you haven’t updated that list in a while.

With Endorsements your connections can propose skills and expertise as they see them based on their experience with you in working, seeing you speak or present, consuming your content online, etc. And vice versa.

So you have the benefit of seeing what others say you’re good at, rather than only you saying it. Powerful stuff. And you can do it so easily: choose from a list or type a couple of words, and click – no fuss, it’s done.

Inevitably, many people will see LinkedIn Endorsements as a kind of professional equivalent to Facebook Likes. Is that a bad thing? If it helps everyone understand them and make use of them effectively, then I’d say it’s a good thing.

LinkedIn says it’s rolling out Endorsements over the coming weeks, starting now in the US, India, Australia and New Zealand. More information on the LinkedIn blog.

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Make your LinkedIn story a compelling one

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I spent a few hours this weekend on updating my profile on LinkedIn, the business social networking site.

Most of my content changing went on the profile summary which is the first and sometimes only information about you a potential employer, recruiter or client pays attention to before deciding whether or not to take a next step, eg, get in touch. Recruiters especially do pay attention to social networking sites.

Think of your profile summary as your silent elevator pitch.

(Such views have added weight if you read the rather bleak perspective about the future of work by Forbes blogger J. Maureen Henderson last week.)

I changed the profile photo for something a little more pleasing (to my eye) and “LinkedIn professional”; reorganized and rewrote some of the existing content; made my IABC accreditation status far more prominent; added some missing information that LinkedIn’s sections feature, introduced last year, lets me include appropriately; and generally tidied up the overall presentation.

I also changed the public profile address to http://uk.linkedin.com/in/nevillehobson – it’s been just “neville” since the vanity URL feature first became available after I joined LinkedIn in 2004 – taking a tip from LinkedIn expert Jorgen Sundberg in how to make Google love your LinkedIn profile.

Other tips were in The Value Of Writing A LinkedIn Profile Thats Different From Your Resume, written by Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter last November.

Some good resources on LinkedIn itself include:

So, is it worth spending the time on this? Well, it seems to me that if you do have a presence on LinkedIn, you may as well make it as compelling as possible. Otherwise, why bother?

And there’s a pragmatic reason. A few weeks ago, I needed to provide a traditional CV to a company – the first time I’ve had to do that in a very long time. I used the profile-to-PDF feature in LinkedIn to generate it, and immediately realized that what I had was woefully inadequate.

So I started from scratch creating a new CV, one that tells my professional story far better and more accurately than before, focusing on skills and achievements rather than the traditional job-title focus and reverse-chronology of where you were and when (which is still how LinkedIn shows your information). That became the source material for revising what my LinkedIn profile now says.

There are many different schools of thought about services like LinkedIn (others such as Xing and Viadeo also come to mind). Most people I know believe they’re important for business networking nowadays. I don’t disagree although I’ve never used LinkedIn the way I see many others doing it, as a sort of pitching service. I do find some of the groups useful for engaging with like-minded people.

I tend to prefer places like Twitter and Google+ for making business connections, ie, I don’t focus on a separate place just for business.

And some people have more of a ‘meh‘ attitude about LinkedIn. Chris Brogan, for instance, who quit LinkedIn earlier this year:

[…] I reported a fairly simple problem: I can’t seem to add people back when they request that we connect. Oh, that would be about the 2nd primary thing one does on the site. You make a profile and then you connect. That’s about it. The connecting part has been broken. I’m done. I don’t care. Whatever.

In any case, I now have a shiny new LinkedIn profile that brings me more up to date. As I solicited feedback on it, I expect to make more improvements soon; some good ideas are in already (including one urging me to quit LinkedIn – no, not from Chris – and “connect with people the old fashioned way, face to face”).

Does your LinkedIn profile tell a compelling story about you?

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