It’s inevitable in any social network, you’re going to get spam. Whether its emails within the network, or requests for connections, companies and individuals are still under the impression that fake profiles lead to better ranking in search engines, more traffic and engagement. The issue here is that in social media, to garner the benefit of it, you have to be ‘real’ and actually connect with people on a personal level. Spam accounts don’t do that – they are just ‘collectors’ of connections.
In some networks connecting with these spam account can hurt your profile. If you are connecting to everyone who requests a connection, the social network could view you as a ‘collector’ and might even view you as supporting such spam accounts. This is why you need to be cautious of blindly accepting every connection request on these networks. Particularly on LinkedIn.
Spotting The LinkedIn Spam Requests
When you see a request come across your phone or your email, you are prone to be a bit excited. Wow, great another person to connect with! Hold your horses there matey …… stop before you hit the green check button LinkedIn provides you. Ask yourself a couple of questions first.
- Have I met this person before?
- Is this person in a group I’m in?
- Has this person visited my profile? (sometimes you can’t tell because they view in anonymous mode or outside of the LinkedIn Network)
- Does this person work for the same company I do?
- Has this person viewed my posts, liked or commented on them?
- Does the requester have an image in the profile and does that image ‘seem real’?
All of these are signals that you are likely dealing with a real person if you can answer yes to a few of these questions.
Take a Look at the Name, Profile Image
Lately, there’s been a rash of connection spam that is relatively easy to spot. By merely looking at the way the name is displayed and taking a look at the photo in the bio, you can get a good ‘feel’. Take a look at this example.
First, look at the name displayed. Who does that? The first name in All Capitals? That just isn’t how normal folks on LinkedIn present themselves.
Second, look at the photo. Is this professional? It looks decent enough ……. if this person was a model. Not a technology person. In certain industries you want to put your best foot forward and show your professional side – not your ‘come hither’ look. If you also take a closer look at this image, it’s one of a celebrity (Leighton Meester from Gossip Girl fame), not really SHIRLEY Byrd.
Investigate the Full LinkedIn Profile
It’s really not that hard to uncover these fake profiles. If the name and photo don’t give it away, take a few moments to click in and view the actual profile, it can tell you a lot.
Take a look at the work & experience history. How ‘full’ is it? People who are active on linked in generally put substance into their work experience. Likely its a point of pride and they want to ensure that their accomplishments are fully listed.
It’s the same with education. Generally there’s a bit of substance there about the school name and type of degree.
If you look at this profile, not much here is there?
Are There Any Linked In Skills, Endorsements, Recommendations or Connections?
Upon even further investigation you can see a fake profile will most likely signs of true engagement with their peers.
- How Many Connections Do they Have?
- Have They Received Any Recommendations from Co-Workers or Friends?
- Has Anyone Endorsed Them for the Skills Listed?
- Is There “Real” Substance in the Profile?
- Do the Skills Listed Match Up with Education or Experience?
Look at Their Latest Listed Place of Employment
If the company is “linked” via the profile (you can click on the company name and it takes you to a list of people who also work there), check that out as well. There are some tall tale signs that can really point to whether or not you are dealing with a fake account and LinkedIn Request Spam.
- Is the Company “Real”
- Does the “Geography” seem right (in this example, the profile says the DC area, the quick view shows more people in the San Francisco area – not one from DC)
- Does the Position of the person requesting match up with what the company does?
- Are you connected to anyone in the company listed that you could reach out and verify that this person is real?
I clicked on this fake profile’s current company and found not a lot of people work for VMSoftware and live in DC, not a lot of people have the title this profile has either. Another note with this type of spam, generally the person requesting lives in the same area as you. I clicked on this one from a friend’s profile who live in the DC area. I personally receive a lot of these type of requests and it displays that they live in the New Orleans area, where I currently reside, so be mindful of that little tidbit.
Trust Your Gut ….. Don’t Just Press Accept
Remember, LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool if you are seeking a new position, new connections to your network or even new business. Do you want to jeopardize that by artificially inflating your LinkedIn Connection count by connecting with fake profiles? What does that demonstrate to your colleagues and potential employers? Remember, unless you’ve set it differently , by default your new connections show up in your status stream which can be viewed by default to anyone seeing your profile.
Ask yourself this question before pressing the green check — Is adding in someone you really don’t know that important to building your network and your personal brand?