Edward Johnson, PMP, CSM

Trusted Advisor

How Ghost Profiles Can Hurt Your Brand

Edward Johnson, PMPĀ®, CSMĀ® February 29


In my last article I spoke about how to identify elaborate LinkedIn ghost profiles. We got pretty in depth about the process, too. In a nutshell, you have to put on your Human Resources (HR) hat and comb through the profiles that reach out to you as well as the ones you want to reach out to. It is sometimes a grueling process, but a necessary one. In this article we will tackle the impact of connecting to a ghost profile.

We all know that having a robust profile will garner you more connections. Hence, you add your previous positions held, maybe write a post or two. You may even get a few pats on the back thanks to a feature on LinkedIn that was meant to do good, but has instead been the bane of many. The recommendation feature. Yeah, you know what I am talking about. As you grow your connections, they are often posed with recommending you for whatever keywords show up in the box. They can easily click to apply the recommendation or find that little "X" to close the box. Not everyone, but a good number of people just click to give the recommendations. This happens whether or not they know the person, let alone have worked with them at all.

The next feature that hampers the profile review process is a rather simple one. Something most would say is innocuous. It's that little 'keep in touch' box that appears in the upper right-hand corner of the page. In this corner several things pop up, such as birthdays, new jobs, etc. How many times have you just clicked whatever has shown up there? After all, the only things that show up there are updates by your connections, right? Lest we forget there are also a slew of "people you may know".

I am taking a bit long to describe all of these touchpoints to give you a clear understanding of what you are facing as you perpetually review your connections. Yes, you read that correctly. You should continuously review your connections and not just because you should be on the lookout for ghosts. You should be tending your connections to ensure you are still a match. Each of these touchpoints should be well vetted. Have you worked with this person? Have you ever met this person in any setting that would enable you to evaluate their abilities? Have you ever spoken with this person over the phone? Do you at least know someone that has worked with this person and you trust the opinion of that third party?

I am pretty sure I tripped up some of you with that last question. Remember, each and every single time you recommend someone you are actually putting your stamp of approval on them. That also means you are putting your own name on the line. A third party you trust. That is an interesting concept. Do you really trust that person's character judgement? Should they trust yours? In the previous article (Elaborate LinkedIn Ghost Profiles) we identified a fake profile. Take a look at it and see how far they go to create a backstory for that profile. More importantly, look at how many people fell into the trap and give recommendations for that ghost profile. Yup! People actually put their respective reputations on the line and recommended that ghost profile. Mind you, there were a lot of people that recommended that fake profile, too.

Would you trust any one of those people to make a character assessment in the future? Think about it. They BLINDLY put their recommendation on the line. It is one thing to make a mistake in connecting to a ghost profile and is easily defensible. However, if you recommend a profile you are putting your name on the line and, therefore, your own reputation. Now do you get it? You SHOULD NOT carelessly make recommendations. Be thoughtful in how you manage your connections.

As much as you depend on the opinions of your connections they are relying on yours. Each step you take can have a positive or negative effect. This is all a part of building a strong career brand!

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