My Problem with LinkedIn

and online reputations in general.

I have a profile on LinkedIn (as I do on many social websites) because many people and blogs I think highly of have recommended it.  Now I’ll be the first to admit I’m probably not using it right and therefore not taking advantage of it properly.  Here is something I noticed recently while updating my profile.

This is a section of my profile showing my position at MRRL.  Three people wrote me recommendations (which I appreciate but I’m not sure what good they do)


After these kind people wrote wonderful things about me I can change my position anyway I like.  In this case I made myself Princess of Georgia.


I know what you’re thinking, there is no Princess of Georgia and if there were it certainly wouldn’t be me.  😉 That isn’t the point.  I can change my job description, title or any part of the position at any point on LinkedIn and those recommendations stay right there.

This is my problem with online reputations.  As more of us establish an online identity, we interact more  with others we meet online and we base our opinion of them on who they are telling us they are.  Why does this matter?  Because people have always been dishonest from the small tweaking of facts to outright lies.  There is no one following me around the web ensuring I’m not fabricating facts.  Even if someone suspected I was not the Princess of Georgia, what could they do?  Maybe blog, maybe contact me, maybe tell their friends but those are pretty aggressive and don’t necessarily put the person doing it in the best light and most people just aren’t going to do it.

Because more professional opportunities are based on online reputations, this is important.  We come to think of the people we interact with as colleagues and friends and we make recommendations  or offer opportunities based on this relationship. Unfortunately there are some things you just can not know about someone unless you’ve worked with them.

I’ve received recommendations on my reputation and I’ve given them too.  I’m not saying don’t do it and everyone you meet online is lying to you.   I’m just reminding you of the old saying – “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog“.

4 thoughts on “My Problem with LinkedIn

  1. You misspelled “received” in your last paragraph. But seriously, in the ethereal world of the internet people will lie and abuse the forum, but eventually they’ll reveal themselves for what they truly are – good or bad – just like in real life. What goes around comes around.


    1. Richard – Thanks for the catch! Spelling has never been my strong suit, now if I could just remember to actually run spellchecker before posting!

      Overall I think you’re right. But I know there are many times when a speaking gig or writing opportunity is based on an online reputation without doing any reference checks.

      If someones peers begin to realize that person is not how they present themselves that’s all fine & good for that peer group but for those outside that circle, there might not be any indication that something is wrong.


  2. In general, it’s true that you can claim whatever you want online and still get “friended” for just those claims. However, LinkedIn is primarily for networking with people with whom you’re a colleague, friend, or classmate – in other words, with people you already know – and their “trusted connections.” If you misrepresent the truth, those you know will recognize this and you won’t be as trusted (or recommended) to others. This would work against you particularly if you’re in the market for another position.


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