How to spot a fake profile looking to connect on LinkedIn


You might be doing the same, without knowing.  A well taken and professional looking headshot is the first thing you notice when someone reaches out to connect on LinkedIn.  But just a cursory glance often makes you realise it is from one of the stock-photo services or a magazine which immediately makes me suspicious.

Now not saying I am perfect and there may be a profile or two in my network that are false. I hope not. Most of the time I am able to spot a false profile. But it takes a little effort.

So what amazes me is that some of the top professionals and career experts on LinkedIn are making a basic and in many cases very obvious mistake by connecting with these false profiles. The danger for all of us is if this continues, is that LinkedIn becomes more of a flea market than a professional network and loses its value.

More seriously a growing number of hackers are targeting you, according to security firm Symantec. An investigation uncovered dozens of fake accounts on the social network, across a variety of industries.

Posing as recruiters, the fake accounts allow hackers to map the networks of business professionals and gain the trust of those in them.

5 Steps You Can Take to Avoid Damaging Your Profile If You Have an Open Connecting Policy

Step 1

Carefully read through the potential connections profile. How complete is it? In reading a professional networking profile you should be able to get a fairly good sense of who this person is. What they have achieved in their various roles and companies. Most of the profiles I found only had one position on their profile with no details and very little other information. An immediate red flag.

Step 2

See who else in your network, especially 1st level contacts, is already connected to this person. Get in touch with 2 or 3 of those connections and ask them what they know about this person. They might end up embarrassed, but also grateful.

Step 3

If Step 2 is not possible then send a note back to the person looking to connect with you. Ask them to refresh your memory as to how you know them. Often this is a genuine reach out, or you have forgotten or someone referred you, but better to ask. If you do not get a reply chances are the person is trawling or a phantom.

Step 4

Copy and save their headshot image and upload it to Google Image Search. See where else the image appears. I just did that with a recent request for connection and this helped quickly to confirm them as genuine and appearing on several professional websites.

Step 5

Help everyone else not have the same issue. I found 6 such profiles in just 15 minutes and have done this. If you do find what you believe to be a phantom profile, let LinkedIn know. You can do that right on the original request to connect. Or you can use these simple instructions from LinkedIn to flag the profile as inappropriate.

Question: What other steps do you take to be sure the connections you make are genuine?

If you have any questions about LinkedIn just hit reply and ask away. I will find the answer for you and maybe even use it in an upcoming tip.

Wishing you continued brandtastic success.


P.S.  Please share this tip with your network if you think they will benefit from it. You can use any of the social media buttons below 

P.P.S. If you happened upon this tip from a connection sharing it or on social media and would like to be kept up to date with future tips and tools for LinkedInsign up by clicking here. You will also receive our increasingly popular “5 Steps to Increasing Your Presence” report which covers 5 of the key 22 branding actions you need to take with your LinkedIn profile to increase opportunities coming to you by up to 40 times.

Here is what one recipient had to say: “I think it is fantastic and extremely relevant. As you pointed out, my role has changed – but unfortunately, my linked in profile has not. I will be trying to put in place some of the ideas that you have offered.”

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