I suppose it’s only natural to expect a few examples of “bad behavior” when you get 40 million people together in any one place, including on a website.  Still, I just can’t resist calling attention to two sleazy practices that some LinkedIn users are starting to engage in that not only violate the spirit of this wonderful website, but will hamper the effectiveness of the tool, eventually, if left unchecked.

Sleazy Practice #1:   Posting rhetorical or self-serving questions in the “Answers” section

The Answers page of LinkedIn is a beautiful thing and is clearly designed for one purpose and one purpose alone: for people to submit legitimate queries about business, careers, and (I suppose) life and receive useful input from fellow members.  More and more, however, I’m seeing some consultants attempting to use this section as free advertising to promote their own services and personal agenda.  How do they do this?  They ask rhetorical, circular, or baiting questions that they then answer, themselves, or use to promote their own products.  You’ll find a recent example of this if you click here.

Shame on you, Rita Ashley!  And what the heck is the Seattle Examiner, anyway?  She alludes to running an article with some great job search tips in this publication, and when you click on it, you get some weird made-up news website that actually says Spokane at the top, not Seattle.  Not very impressive for somebody who claims to be a professional advisor to $100,000+ job seekers.

Going forward, please help me stamp out this practice by clicking on the “flag answer as advertisement” option at the bottom of these types of questions, whenever you run across them…

Sleazy Practice #2:  Creating a LinkedIn profile for your company, instead of (or in addition to) yourself as an individual

One of the reasons LinkedIn is so useful is that you can’t hide behind anonymity on the site.  Whenever you post a job, or respond to a question, or network with other people, your actions are ALWAYS tied back to your specific individual profile so that people can immediately identify you and gauge your authenticity.  Recently, however, I’ve noticed a few organizations trying to game the system by building a separate profile for their company as a whole (in violation of LinkedIn policy) and then using this generic profile to build connections and increase recognition for their organization.  Here’s an example of this practice.

Shame on you, iMatch Staffing!  While I suppose some of these organizations think they’re just being innovative, or engaging in acceptable “guerrilla marketing” tactics, it’s abundantly clear that this practice is not the intended use of the site — and there’s also no question that the companies engaging in this practice know they’re being deceptive.  I mean, come on people.  Did you really think it was okay to type “iMatch” as the first name and “Staffing” as the last name on your profile?

In closing, thanks for letting me vent, and while I recognize that the above two examples are still fairly isolated incidents, I’m hoping that LinkedIn steps up and nips this kind of behavior in the bud before it becomes commonplace.  These kinds of actions only serve to confuse people and if thousands of additional folks starting following suit, and ignoring the etiquette of the site for their own personal gain, there’s no question that this would weaken the functionality of the site to a significant degree.  Let’s report these types of abuses when we see them and help the offenders “wise up” before they spoil it for everybody!