LinkedIn feature: “Mentioned in the news” can mean bad publicity for you

Not all news is good news.

Not all news is good news.

LinkedIn released a new “Mentioned in the News” feature in 2015 that uses an algorithm to search for online content in which you may be featured. Your contacts will then get an email message notifying them that you are in the news with a link to the article. However, there is no guarantee that the highlighted news will be good news (and we all know that bad news spreads like wildfire) or that the news will even be about you. As LinkedIn points out in the Help Center, “this algorithm is good, it’s not perfect.” In fact, LinkedIn has added the disclaimer at the bottom of email notifications that states, “LinkedIn does not guarantee that news articles are accurate or about the correct person.”

For example, if your name is Jane Smith and there’s a news story about another Jane Smith who, let’s say, has been indicted for a recent crime or has written a controversial op-ed, it’s possible your contacts could get notified. There could be a lot of confusion and damage done by such an incidence. While LinkedIn encourages your contacts to report identity mistakes in the email notifications, I am unable to find any way for the mentioned person to actually monitor his or her own “Mentioned in the News” notifications or approve content.

In addition, the beauty of social media is that YOU can control what your professional network sees about you, which allows you to paint an image of how you want to be viewed by others in your field. I was alerted to the issues behind this new feature when I received an email with a subject line “News about so and so”. Shockingly, It turns out the article about so and so was a biased, opinion piece on a watchdog group’s website that belittled the use of federal funds for the individual’s research project. This type of bad publicity should not automatically be distributed to an individual’s professional network without the consent of that person.

Overall, this feature is a bust, and I highly recommend disabling it on your LinkedIn account. To opt out of this feature, go to your “Account & Settings” by hovering over your profile picture in the upper right-hand corner of your LinkedIn home page. Select “Privacy & Settings” and then select “Turn on/off your news mention broadcasts” under the profile tab to uncheck the “Yes! Let them know” box.

To turn off email notifications about your connections, from within “Privacy & Settings” select the “Communications” tab and then under “Emails and Notifications” select “Set the frequency of emails”, choose to edit “Updates and news” by clicking the pencil icon and set “Connections in the News” to “No Email”.

I hope that the LinkedIn crew will realize the potentially damaging aspects of this so-claimed feature and remove it soon before it damages the professional reputation of its members.

Self-Marketing Tip: Sharing Content with Your Network

Sharing regular content with your professional network is a quick and efficient way to increase your online presence, stay fresh in the minds of colleagues and establish yourself as a thought leader in your area of expertise. Content can be shared on social media platforms and discussion boards (e.g., LinkedIn), through your personal website, by direct email to a targeted list of contacts and via internal communication methods (e.g., company newsletter, internal website).

The content shared needs to add value to your network’s day and be in line with how you want people to view you professionally. This material may include recent articles on new discoveries in your field, thought-provoking editorials, upcoming funding opportunities and relevant job announcements. For example, if you are a climate change scientist you may want to post an article outlining new global carbon dioxide measurements; an editorial calling for policy changes needed to address rising carbon dioxide levels; a funding announcement for a new research program in your area; and/or a link to an open research position within your institution.

How much time should you spend in sharing content? I recommend developing a weekly routine that fits your schedule. My general guidelines are to spend 15–30 minutes a week to check your online profile(s) for completeness (e.g., updating publications); post a link to a relevant article; share a status update on a recent accomplishment (e.g., award); and/or connect with your network by congratulating colleagues or sending a private message to say hello. I also suggest spending the same amount of time in scanning discussion boards and popular media sites in your field to comment on other people’s shared content or to start your own discussion thread.

The biggest mistake that I see people make in sharing content is simply posting a link on a social media site without any added description. You have to put a little effort into this process by adding a short description of what people will read in the article, stating your opinion on the material and/or posing a question to engage your network in dialogue around the content. By adding this information, you will compel people to check out the information, which also leads to more visibility if they comment or share your post. Other common mistakes include posting status updates that openly ask your network for job leads and sharing chain posts (e.g., inspirational quotes) that distract from the focus of establishing yourself as a professional in your field.

Do you have questions on how to share content on LinkedIn or other sites? Use the comment box below or ask a question anonymously here.

Proactive approaches for building a professional network – AWIS webinar, Thursday 11/29, 4 pm EST

Please join me for the webinar “Proactive approaches for building a professional network” to be presented to the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) on Thursday, 11/29/12 at 4 pm (EST). The webinar will focus on a survey of networking techniques to build a professional network, including places to meet people, ways to approach people and considerations for organizing successful networking events.

The webinars (called STEMinars) are free to AWIS members. AWIS “champions the interests of women in science, technology engineering, and mathematics across all disciplines and employment sectors. Working for positive system transformation, AWIS strives to ensure that all women in these fields can achieve their full potential.” Benefits for AWIS members include free STEMinars, magazine, newsletter, advocacy news, active discussion boards, job listings, etc. To learn more about the organization and to become a member, please visit their website at awis.org.

View Slides from Presentation

How to Build a Professional Network, Part III: LinkedIn

Why LinkedIn?

If you haven’t made a LinkedIn account then it’s time to update and join the professional networking scene…and now would be a good time. It’s free to join and easy to set up your professional profile, which will generate your own unique web address for sharing purposes. You don’t need to lose your Facebook or Twitter accounts, as those applications are great for keeping in touch with your social network but do not provide the best format for building a professional network. Honestly, most of your colleagues or future employers do not care about your petty drama (e.g., the fight you had with your significant other last night over the TV remote) or personal life (e.g., your kid is learning how to get potty trained). What they do want to see are your qualifications, skill sets, work experience, and your ability to professionally network in your chosen field, which can be effectively displayed with a well-designed LinkedIn profile.

How to effectively use LinkedIn?

Of course, if you already have a LinkedIn account then you are staring at this post and mumbling, “stop wasting my time.” From pure observation, I have noticed that many people are not using LinkedIn to their full advantage. Here are some tips that have been useful for me:

1. Display your full resume/curriculum vitae.

I have noticed that many people list a couple of job titles and an educational degree but that’s it for detail. Instead, I would suggest using your LinkedIn account as an online resume/curriculum vitae (CV). When editing your profile, take advantage of the recommendations provided by LinkedIn to “Improve your profile” and “Add sections”. As I make edits to my paper CV, I leave the file open and paste updated information into the appropriate sections of my LinkedIn profile. (On a side note, some people suggest turning off your “activity broadcast” if you don’t want others knowing that you are making changes to your CV and maybe looking for a job.)

2. Advertise your LinkedIn web address.

I use my LinkedIn profile as an online CV so I have set my settings to a public profile. (To change, go to “Settings” > “Edit my public profile” > “Make my public profile visible to everyone”) Instead of carrying around bulky copies of my CV, I have created a business card that includes my LinkedIn URL. I also include the URL in my email signature and at the top of my paper CV. In addition, you can “create a profile badge” from the “Edit my public profile” screen.

View Donna Kridelbaugh's profile on LinkedIn

3. Join LinkedIn groups such as professional organizations.

LinkedIn is a perfect opportunity to meet people that you normally would not encounter on a daily basis. If you belong to any professional organizations then join the LinkedIn group and participate in discussions. You can also join alumni groups and “follow” companies in which you are interested.

4. Connect, connect, and connect.

Professional networking is all about making connections. You can start by sending connect requests to your co-workers and then view their connections to find more people you know. As you meet people through other means (i.e. informational interviews, conferences, etc.) then add them to your professional network. Also, most people that you meet or with whom you participate in group discussions will likely want to “connect” but consider adding an explanation of why you want to connect instead of just sending a blank connect request.

5. See how you are connected to others.

One of the best features of LinkedIn is being able to see how your connections are connected to people with whom you want to speak. For example, if I wanted to connect with someone at a specific company then I can do an “advanced people search” with inputs of the company name and check “2nd connections” under “relationship” field. Next, I could find a common connection and ask that person if they can introduce me to the new person.

6. SimplyHired.com

This job search engine has a great application built-in, whereas you can access your LinkedIn account to see how you may be connected to potential employers.

7. Recommend and endorse.

Two features allow you to dress up the profile of your connections by writing a short letter of recommendation or endorsing the skills listed on their profile. Many people suggest being proactive and recommending/endorsing your connections first, and in turn, they might return the favor. However, I would be sure to be conservative with this feature and only promote others for which you can truly vouch for their skills!

Note: LinkedIn is the current fad in professional networking, which may not hold true for all fields and geographical areas so make sure to stay on top of the latest trends and adopt new technology as it becomes available.