If you’re a regular reader of the Firefly blog, you’d be well within your right to observe that we’ve been talking about LinkedIn rather a lot recently.

It’s not without good reason, though (here’s why!) – and with this in mind, our LinkedIn Army event last month took a look at exactly how marketers can mobilise the rest of their workforce to get the most out of the platform. We were joined by speakers from LinkedIn and Telefónica – as well as Firefly’s Phil Szomszor – all of whom shared some great insights and examples as to how best to use the platform.

Shortly after, during a Friday afternoon conversation amongst some of the team, we got talking about common LinkedIn faux pas. We’ve all come across them, I’m sure – whether it’s a suggested connection who should really re-think her choice of profile picture, or an ex-colleague who’s frankly not representing himself as well as he could be.

So, without further ado, allow me to present our LinkedIn Hall of Shame – featuring the eight profile types to avoid at your peril!

DISCLAIMER: these people are not real, nor are any of them based on a particular person. They are all completely fictional, and have been created for your entertainment (and education) only!

OliviaExhibit A

Let’s kick off with Olivia Anderson.  Olivia’s actually not doing too badly when it comes to her profile – she’s filled in all the relevant sections, provided a pretty comprehensive summary of her work experience and skills, and is sharing news articles which interest her via status updates.

But did you notice any of the hard work she’s put in to cultivating her professional persona? Very unlikely, as we bet you’re still transfixed on that pout in the top left-hand corner!

Unfortunately this profile picture does not reflect well on Olivia as a professional business woman. Unless, of course, she’s applying for Britain’s Next Top Model, we’d suggest saving the selfies for Instagram. A smiley but smart corporate headshot would be far more suitable for LinkedIn. And believe us, we’ve seen a lot worse offenders than this on genuine profiles, some of which wouldn’t look out of place on the page of a glamour magazine!

Exhibit B Max

Wow, Max Tunbridge, that’s quite a profile you have there. You certainly are a social media force to be reckoned with! We’ll be sure to get in touch whenever we need a…wait, what is it you do again?

In fact, even multiple readings of this page shed little light on the question. Max is blinding us with social science and, like his pal Stefano, it’s doing nothing for his credibility (or likeability).

While we must applaud Max for his enthusiasm, when it comes to LinkedIn sometimes less is more. It’s not the right outlet for live event updates, nor sharing a dozen articles a day. Think quality, not quantity. And, like Olivia, we’ve seen worse offenders than this in the real world.

DouglasExhibit C

As you can see from his profile picture, Douglas Fir’s a family man. But cute as his chosen shot may be, is it really suitable for a professional network? Sadly, no it’s not. Douglas would be far better off saving the family photo album for Facebook, where no doubt he has a whole gang of friends and fellow Nottingham Forrest fans just dying to see the latest snaps of him and Holly, or read that hilarious anecdote from his trip to the park.

Sorry, Douglas, but we’d hazard a guess that when it comes to your colleagues and customers, it’s a case of TMI.

Exhibit D Phoebe

A quick look at Phoebe Hampton-Jones’s profile suggests that a) she doesn’t really understand LinkedIn, and b) she doesn’t really care.

As a recent graduate, it’s understandable that Phoebe doesn’t have a huge amount of work experience to share. However, all those typos and grammatical errors are unforgivable, and give entirely the wrong impression – and we won’t even go there with that photo…

If she wants to be taken seriously by prospective employers, Phoebe needs to either tidy up her profile considerably or remove it altogether until she has something valuable to share.

StefanoExhibit E

Next up, we have Stefano Ferraro. The saying goes that “people buy from people” – which in theory makes LinkedIn an invaluable tool for our resident “sales guru” Stefano. Sadly, in this case the only thing Stefano is achieving from his profile is making himself come across completely unpersonable. Mr “SALES, SALES AND MORE SALES” needs to tone it down a notch and include some actual, tangible work experience if he wants to be remotely credible.

And again, that photo just isn’t doing it for us. Full marks for the smart attire, minus 100 for the thumbs up, another 100 deducted for the prop. Both unnecessary.

Exhibit F Alex

Where do we start with our next chap, Alexander Drayton ? Well done for trying, Alexander, but we think you could do with revisiting your profile set-up.  Turning your photo the right way up would be a good start.

And although the hashtag does seem to be creeping inevitably into everyday syntax, we’re yet to see the value of including them in your work experience description – though there may be a place for them in a timely LinkedIn status update, when used correctly. Also, have another go at @-mentioning people, as that too seems to have #failed.

JanetExhibit G

Janet Roberts appears to be on LinkedIn for one reason, and one reason alone: job hunting. From the public requests for recommendations, to the vast number of recruitment firms she is following, something tells me Janet is not in a committed working relationship with Drains United.

Although LinkedIn is a valuable tool for recruiters and job seekers alike, publicly seeking your next position while still working for your current employer sends out a number of messages – and unluckily for Janet, ‘loyal professional’ is not one of them.

Exhibit H Mary

This brings us, last but not least, to Mary Smythe. Looks like Mary has got about five minutes into creating her profile, and not much further.

It’s likely Mary’s just a very busy lady who hasn’t quite got round to finishing it – which is a shame, as we bet she’s got mountains of experience and insight to share, plus a whole heap of professional contacts to boot.

It wouldn’t take Mary long to update her experience and add a nice headshot so her contacts can identify and connect with her, while just a couple of minutes a day could be set aside to log in and share her – no doubt very interesting and incisive – thoughts on that news article, or Dynamic Systems’ latest announcement.

While LinkedIn has come a long way from its initial inception as a recruitment tool/online CV it is still, fundamentally, a network for people. As LinkedIn’s Henry Clifford-Jones highlighted in our event, the average LinkedIn member is 12 times more likely to see top tech brands through an employee’s profile page than through the company page.

This, to me, says it all: your profile is your own, very public, representation of your brand – both that of your company and that of your own, personal brand.

So take pride in it.

What do you think? Tell us who’s your favourite in our Hall Of Shame? Have we left any typical personality types out?

Is it time to shape your reputation?

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