Why LinkedIn is becoming an annoyance

Well, perhaps calling LinkedIn an annoyance is unfair. But some of its users are definitely becoming an annoyance.

I don’t know about anyone else, but in the last few weeks I’ve seen a marked increase in the number of invitations to connect that come from people I do not know. Not only do I not know them, I can’t figure out how I would even be connected to them.

Sadly, some people don’t “get” LinkedIn. Users should not be trying to accumulate as many connections as possible. This isn’t Twitter. The number of your connections does not matter. The quality of your connections is what matters. Being linked to someone you’ve never met, never exchanged emails with, never even exchanged tweets with is meaningless.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to receive invitations from users on LinkedIn. But I will accept only those that I can see a connection with. Maybe we’ve been affiliated with the same non-profit organization in different roles. Even if our paths never actually crossed, I’ll probably accept the invitation. If we’ve met at a conference and I could pick you out of a crowd later (meaning we had a good interaction, more than just nodding as we pass in a hallway at the expo), I’ll accept the invitation. Of course, it goes without saying that if we’ve done business together (even as opposing counsel in hard-fought cases), I’ll accept the invitation.

But there are two instances where I won’t accept the invite: if I have no idea who you are or how you might be connected to me, or if I think you’re a crook and others hold that opinion. I don’t want to be connected to crooks. 🙂

For Pete’s sake, lawyers PLEASE look at your LinkedIn profiles

Although I’ve ranted about this before, I feel compelled to do so again. This morning, while perusing LinkedIn, I ran across the profile of an attorney in Indianapolis, a senior attorney in a well-established firm. I was disheartened to see that he had sloppily added his information:

joe schmoe, senior partner, dewey,cheatham and howe

See any problems? How about:

  • No capital letters anywhere
  • no space between the comma after Dewey

I would suspect that if this lawyer (or any other lawyer) received a résumé and cover letter with these kinds of errors, he would throw it out. And yet here he is, creating an online résumé worthy of a five-year-old.

How embarrassing—for him and the profession.

There are so many problems with being sloppy in punctuation, capitalization, and grammar:

  • You look illiterate.
  • Potential clients (esp. in-house counsel) will be likely to conclude that you are not going to represent them well since you can’t represent yourself well.
  • Even if you had someone type your profile in for you, it’s apparent you are not interested in proofreading his or her work. That cavalier approach might carry over to contracts or court filings.
  • You look like you don’t care.

In all fairness, in this blog and elsewhere I may take some liberties with proper grammar. Maybe more than “some.” But this blog is a more informal space where we can explore ideas and topics without worrying about everything being perfect. Would I take those liberties or be as relaxed with a rĂ©sumĂ© or court filing?

Hell no.

To my colleagues, please, please have someone proofread your LinkedIn profile. Make sure names are spelled correctly, capitalization is proper, and there are no typographical errors. If you don’t look into these things and your profile is riddled with mistakes, don’t be surprised if you find LinkedIn is not doing much good for you.

Puzzling lawyer behavior

As I try to do on a weekly basis, I was browsing around on LinkedIn this morning when something caught my eye. While reviewing the list of “people I might know,” I saw an attorney with the name Susanna H.

Just Susanna H.

This particular attorney works for a law firm, and yet she has apparently chosen to not reveal her last name to people using LinkedIn.

Now most lawyers use LinkedIn as a way to make electronic connections with people they know. Lawyers who want to get a bit more out of LinkedIn tailor their profiles to help people find them. This can be done by using key words in the profile to describe the services the lawyer provides.

Either way, part of the usefulness of LinkedIn is its ability to let people find you by searching. I think, however, Susanna H. is going to have a harder time being found by someone looking for her. How many people will wade through tens of pages to find her out of all the Susannas on LinkedIn? In fairness, perhaps Susanna is not worried about people searching for her by name, and she hopes she will show up in search results when people are looking for a lawyer in her field of practice.

I still see something wrong with this thinking. How many of us would hire a professional who doesn’t reveal his or her last name? Even Dr. Phil lets people know his last name, even if he doesn’t use it in the title of his show. Consider this: would you hire a lawyer whose phone book entry read “William W”? I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t hire a physician whose phone book entry was “Robert C” either.

Many people online are concerned about privacy, and they probably feel that not disclosing their last names on LinkedIn is a way to protect their privacy. This may be true, but the practice defeats the purpose of the web site’s service. There are plenty of sites where privacy is a major concern (Facebook, anyone?), but a directory of professionals and business colleagues probably isn’t one of them.