When you get a connection request on LinkedIn from a stranger, do you open up their profile to check them out?
The prevalence of fake LinkedIn accounts has become an increasing problem for the social networking giant. Some spammers are smarter than others, and some fake accounts will require a closer inspection to spot.
Fake LinkedIn profiles can have several hundred connections already, as well as a handful of Skill Endorsements. They also usually belong to several groups and follow a couple of companies and influencers.
If you know what to look for, fake accounts on LinkedIn are usually pretty easy to spot. Often you can visibly see patterns and signs that are common amongst these fake LinkedIn profiles. Here are a few signs that I use when gauging the legit profiles against the fake ones!
5 Ways to Spot Fake LinkedIn Accounts
1. Receiving Many Invites from People in the Same Company
If you start receiving an unusual number of invites from people from the same company (unless such an influx is expected for a specific reason, such as an event), this is often the sign of fake LinkedIn accounts. Quite often they will use well-known companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, Bank of America, etc.
Another dead giveaway would be many requests from people with very similar, generic headlines.
2. Suspicious Profile Image
Images are also an excellent way to spot fake accounts. If you get the feeling that a profile photo looks like a stock photo, you can look it up with Google search by image. This will quickly tell you if the picture has been used elsewhere on the web.
While there are lots of real people still using logos as their image, a generic picture, such as a flower or another random object, can also be a warning sign of a fake LinkedIn profile.
Images of celebrities are also a dead giveaway, as are pictures of women in suggestive looking poses. Some spammers are really not that smart, you may even see a profile where the image is of a woman, but the profile has a man’s name or vice versa.
3. Lack of Real Personal Info
A common denominator between many fake LinkedIn accounts is the lack of any real personal info about that individual.
If anything, there are mostly generic statements that lack any specificity in the summary and experience sections.
Profiles by real people often include a mix of personal details such as causes, volunteering, interests, education, recommendations and the use of the first person when writing the sections such as the Summary or Experience. This isn’t to say that profiles written in the third person are fake. I’m merely suggesting that profiles written in the first person tend to be fake LinkedIn accounts less often.
I generally open the profiles of people who sent me connection requests to look for any red flags that might cause me to question their authenticity. If it’s a close call and I really can’t tell, I tend to decline the connection request.
4. Suspiciously Good Looking People
OK, so I’m having a little bit of fun with this one and truthfully it isn’t a reliable indicator on its own, but it can paint a bigger picture when it’s among other red flags.
Romana Frey shared one of her experiences identifying a fake LinkedIn account with me:
“Last week I received an invitation that I knew was fake right away. It was a photo of an attractive man from England in a field totally unrelated to mine with just a few connections. I accepted anyway, just to check my intuition, and I was right – he immediately sent me a message saying he was coming to Canada and wanted to meet me.” – Romana Frey
It’s not just women, it happens to men too! Here’s a comment sent to me by Bruce Smeaton:
“A profile of a young woman complete with a drop-dead gorgeous profile photo (which is either a stock photo or stolen from Google Images), a job role as a content producer and/or blogger with “World Connector”, a local US address (and associated educational references), but very poor English literacy skills.”
5. Premium Members Can Be Fakes Too
It’s rare but even fake accounts will sometimes have a Premium LinkedIn membership, so don’t blindly accept an invite without a glance at their profile.
Fake LinkedIn Accounts Aren’t Your Only Concern
While you want to avoid connecting with fake or spam accounts on LinkedIn, you don’t need to protect your network or account like you would on Facebook. LinkedIn is a professional platform that can help you build and expand your network.
That said, it doesn’t mean you should connect with every non-spammer who sends you a connection request. The quality of your network is important, but I don’t think it’s necessary or beneficial to deny a connection request solely because you have never met the person before.
Look Out for The LIONs
I also personally avoid connecting with LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers).
These people put LION in their headline as a sign to show that they will connect with anyone, spammers and fake accounts included. I find these people to have a very low-quality network and I don’t typically like to be connected to them.
I believe in expanding your network, but there has to be a purpose for each party to be connected to each other.
Checklist for Identifying a Valuable Connection
Once you have determined that an account belongs to a real person and is not a fake profile there are still a few factors you may want to consider before clicking accept:
- Did they send a personalized request?
- Do they speak/write in the same language as you?
- Could this person be a prospect or strategic alliance partner?
Is this person a competitor and is there a benefit to being connected
How Do You Identify Fake LinkedIn Accounts?
If you are currently under the 500+ connections, you might be tempted to connect with anyone at all to help build your network quickly, but similar to the adverse effects of connecting with LIONs, having a low-quality network will not serve you.
The best way to use LinkedIn is to build a high-quality network and only connect with high-quality connections. Then, when you reach out to connect with your ideal connections, they will see that your network is full of people just like them when they research your profile.
What are some of the signs you look for when trying to spot fake LinkedIn accounts? Let me know in the comments below.
Did you know I have a free advanced online training available to help you build an extensive, high-quality LinkedIn network full of your ideal clients?
It’s a masterclass called: How to Turn Cold LinkedIn Connections into Clients. Inside the training, I reveal a highly effective rapport-building process that has been refined from years of testing and perfecting. Register here.