Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why You Shouldn't Hire Someone to Manage Your LinkedIn Profile

Lately, I've noticed a rash of social media consultants offering to manage the LinkedIn profiles of busy professionals. It's one thing to hire someone to help write your profile out--that's like resume writing or having some good p.r. writing done. But to manage it?? You've *got* to be kidding me.

I think the idea comes from the old days of having a secretary. Having been one of those in the 1980's, I remember when The Boss would come in from a business lunch, hand me a card and say "Add this guy to the rollodex, will you?" Like a good little secretary, that's what I did...

Now, I know that a good analogy for describing what LinkedIn can be is that it is a kind of rolodex online. Well, it is, and it isn't. It is in that it's a way to keep your contacts in a place online. It isn't in that it your rolodex never left your office, and it didn't require you to have a password to get into it. Further, people in your rolodex ever able to see the other people in your rolodex? Could anybody off the street come in and search your rolodex (which could happen with LinkedIn, if you do not manage your privacy settings accordingly?)

When a businessperson hires someone to keep a LinkedIn profile, or has someone in his/her office keep track of that profile, they must first hand over a password. For some, this might not be a big deal, and they will change the password when and if that person leaves.

What, though, if that person has changed the password without telling you? What if that person has edited your information in a certain way, or added people they believe you should be connected with.

Businesspeople who do not fully understand social networking but feel they must be there may be far too trusting with the information they allow others to manage for them.

It's like I always say--if you refuse to be responsible for your online identity and who you are in social networking, then perhaps it's not the place for you. The Internet is not analogous to the old paper-and-filing-cabinet world. It is a web and everything put there has the potential to be linked everywhere else...

Further, the old paper-and-filing-cabinet world gave us a false sense of security. It was difficult to break into those places and to get information out of them. It lead us to believe that things like an office rolodex were private. But the Internet is different, and what you put there, even you are mindful of security settings, even if it is behind a password-protected wall, is, potentially, public information. (hence one must be careful with social security numbers, driver's license numbers and the like--which are not meant to be public information.) So, one has to be more responsible for one's own social identity information on the Internet than they were in the paper world.

Because, in the past, if a secretary got fired, he couldn't necessarily mess with your information. Now, he can. Ad in ways you might not even know.

So, while I can give you a whole bunch of links on the deeper and techological reasons why one should manage one's own LinkedIn profile, and not give it to a social media person nor to one's secretary, I'll simply borrow a phrase from Doc Searls which might apply: participating in LinkedIn could be said to be a public activity under private control When you give the management to someone else, you are giving away control over private real estate online.

And are you really ok with giving away the control of your business contacts and your business persona (which is contained in that profile) to someone else? Do you really want to be, on a social networking site, a lot of spin with a plethora of connections that might mean less to you than if they were sitting in a file on your desk?

And, if all you really want to do is keep track of the business cards you acquire, because they may be potential new business contacts, there are a whole host of tools to help you with that--all kinds of card readers and such. So you don't even need LinkedIn for that purpose.

Think about it....about what you want from social media. Assess whether or not you have the time for it--don't just hire someone to do it for you. Do it for yourself.


Trish said...

Got to admit it- I was looking for a good horror story or two. I must be an online rubber-necker.
But I do like that your secretary is a he.

Tish Grier said...

lol! the horror stories haven't surfaced yet. It's not that they're not happening. I'd say it's more that people don't want to talk about them for fear of being called dumbasses. ;-)

Wish I had a secretary. and you bet, if I did, he would be a "he" :)