As an Arrested Development Fan, I got a huge chuckle from several of the episodes of the newly released season on Netflix, but what I found intriguing beyond Tobias’s new license plate was George Michael’s new software company called Face Block. In the fictional story, a software that can block your profile from ever showing up is the new investment darling and George Michael plays a role that is reminiscent of the movie “Network” about the founding of Facebook. But does it make sense to have a sort of anti-social social network like Face Block? If you have ever made a ‘bad’ online connection, you may think so.
Linked in is a wonderful place to connect with business contacts and stay in touch. As wonderful as a living, breathing “rolodex” that LinkedIn can be, there is also nefarious side to Linkedin that you need to be aware of. Unfortunately, it can be used as a sales tool, or a way to spam your inbox under the guise of connecting for mutual business. When that happens, you may think twice about the person you’ve connected with.
Sometimes in our exuberance of building a network, there may be times that you’ve accepted a connection then come to realize that the person is not someone you want to be connected to. Since we are known by the company that we keep, this may be reason to disconnect or even block the person.
Unfortunately, LinkedIn does not offer an option to block another member at this time.
If you suspect someone may be trolling your profile or your connections, you may wish to lock down your contact list.
Hiding your connections is not the way LinkedIn works best, though. There is a value in having your connections view-able, again, its the company that you keep mentality. I’m proud of my connections and I know all of them. That’s an important distinction. Knowing your connections is much more valuable than connecting indiscriminately. If people know you and trust your opinion, they are more likely to respond favorable if or when you request something.
While watching the new episodes of Arrested Development on NetFlix, I got a chuckle out of George Michael’s “Face Block” software. Unfortunately it would be almost impossible to block your profile on every social network. Even if you could block specific people on one network, they could create an alter identity and view your posts.
The safest way to control what someone can take from what you post online is to only post things that are safe if made public or to share. If someone has evil intent, that will be evident soon enough. Blocking on Linkedin, Facebook or Google+ is of limited value.
Obviously do not post if you will be away from home or on a trip – especially before you leave. If you wish to share pictures of your trip after you return, that’s a much safer option.
Keep in mind when receiving invitations to accept that friends of your friends may not necessarily be your friends as well. Many people are busy, and they will accept an invitation without fully investigating who they are connecting with. They may do this because they feel it’s a numbers game, or because they just connect with anyone. If you keep in mind that the value of LinkedIn is through the types of relationships that you have developed, then you will realize that having a huge network may be a lot less desirable than having a small network of strong relationships.
And you are known by the company that you keep.
First, let’s discuss what current privacy settings are available on Linkedin:
1. Blocking / Hiding Your Photo: Why would you want to block your photo? Some people are concerned about other people swiping their image to use for devious purposes. It’s hard to prevent this from happening, and honestly,
2. Changing Your Profile Display Name: If you originally used your married name and want to use your maiden name, or if you decide you prefer to use a nicname, you can change the profile display name.
3. Hiding Your Public Profile: If you prefer not to be contacted by individuals then you can still have a profile, but hide it from others. This also precludes you from seeing anyone who may want to “view” your profile. I’ve learned a lot from seeing who was viewing me.
4. Controlling Who Can Send You Invitations: You may not wish to be contacted by others, and controlling who can send you invitations is a way to stop certain individuals from connecting. Essentially the choices are:
- All Invitations (this is the default).
- Only invitations from people who know my email address or appear in my “Imported Contacts” list.
- Only invitations from people who appear in my “Imported Contacts” list
- Is this someone you know? If you have never met, being asked to connect is suspicious. One tactic that you should be aware of is when someone contacts you to connect because you are both members of an International Organization, like Rotary. Just because someone says they are part of an organization does not mean that they are, and also does not make that person a safe connection.
- Has the person created multiple companies where they are the CEO or President or Founder? Is there a track record of ‘new’ organizations over the last few months? That’s a huge tip-off of a fraud, especially if the organization is one that you never heard of, but which has a name that is similar to one that you may know of. Some companies use this as a way to sound like you should recognize them when they are not the company that you are thinking of. Look for misspellings or creative spelling or hyphenation of the company or organization’s name.
- Has the person suddenly connected with a large number of people in your network over the last year? You never heard of him or her a year ago, and now suddenly they are connected with over a hundred mutual contacts! That’s an overt attempt to cluster contacts to appear credible. Consider that a huge red flag for potential fraud.
- Look a the person’s contacts? Are they connected to disreputable or sketchy people? You are known by the company that you keep… beware!
- What about memberships? Has the person listed membership in organizations that the person is not a member of? This may be hard to discern from a Linkedin profile, but ask around!
- Has the person enumerated too many roles within a company such as founder, marketer, innovator, entrepreneur, manufacturer, etc? Some buzzwords to beware may include “entrepreneur” (aren’t we all, but who really needs to list this), “shaman” (Ok this is just crazy), “serial” anything (this even sounds scary!).
- Someone you’ve never heard of, who claims they had an International company or invented eBay before eBay… run! That’s just crazy talk!