Are Photos and Personal Information Important on LinkedIn and Facebook?

The simple answer is, there isn’t one.  While we must be cautious about what kind of personal information we share, we cannot let fear dictate our actions.  What kind of personal information you share depends on the social media and your strategy.

If your strategy is to “extend your reach into the kingdom” (beyond your current friends and acquaintances), then it’s going to be tough to “hide” your identity and all personal information.  If your strategy is just to connect to your friends, then you can be more open, but you must still be cautious as your connections might make the information you share with them, available to others.

Let’s start with LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a “professional” social network, and therefore should have a different strategy.  The largest users of LinkedIn consist of Industry (and Ministry) Leaders, Professionals, Recruiters, and Job Seekers, and most utilize Basic (free) Accounts.  The features and benefits of LinkedIn are diverse.  LinkedIn is a great tool for building, managing, and maintaining your network of contacts.  LinkedIn gives you visibility from other influential users in your field (and ministry), allowing you to make contacts that otherwise would probably be out of your reach.  LinkedIn makes it easy for your contacts to share your postings with their network.  LinkedIn groups allow you to learn and share in discussions with people with like interests and ministries worldwide.  If you put the time and effort into LinkedIn, it allows you to build trust and credibility. LinkedIn gives you the ability to restrict your personal information, they way you can be contacted, and your location.

Adding a Photo to your LinkedIn profile is “generally” the right thing to do, unless your photo might be detraction, and leaving it blank can cause doubt that you might not want.  LinkedIn photos aren’t generally about seeing what your high school friends look like after 10-20 years; they are about who you are now, and who you want others to see!  If you are looking for a new position, try to select a photo that complements your age and decreases any issues that might cause a decision based on a prejudice.  If you are trying to build a network with other professionals in your field, unless you are already well-known, most connections will feel better about connecting with someone they don’t know if they believe they can truly tell who you are, and what your motives are for connecting.  Lastly, a LinkedIn photo should be a professional looking head shot of just you.  Don’t include your car unless you sell cars or a pet unless you are a veterinarian, and LinkedIn doesn’t allow logos.

For Personal Information, if you want new contacts to reach you, you should make it easy, be sure your e-mail address is obvious, and you might even want to include who you want to be connected to.  Check out the end of my profile summary for one option.  If you are looking for a new position, an e-mail address isn’t enough; you should always include a phone number.  I usually recommend using a dedicated ‘social media’ e-mail address as your primary address, and be sure to include all your other ‘commonly used’ e-mail addresses as alternates in your LinkedIn settings.  Including all your e-mail addresses allows everyone to easily connect with you, as well as keeping you from inadvertently setting up two LinkedIn profiles, (which is not recommended).  With many of today’s e-mail programs and systems, you can forward multiple e-mail addresses so you only have to regularly check one place to see them all.  LinkedIn only shows geographic areas in lieu of specific cities, so including yours allows people to more easily know they’ve found the right person.  Having a Private or un-detailed profile with a somewhere in the United States address provides little benefit for anyone.  Including your website is a great idea, but including your street address is probably never recommended; unless it’s a business or ministry address that is open to the public.

Another decision you might make is to allow your network to view your connections.  While this is a personal decision, and should be based on your strategy, understand that many of your connections might benefit from seeing your connections and recognize others they also know, allowing them to more easily build their network.  Since anyone can search LinkedIn for people to invite, unless your connections use your list inappropriately, allowing them to see your connections is a courtesy that you might want to extend to your network.

In short, the internet makes deception much easier to accomplish, and your profile should provide enough information to show your professionalism, your seriousness, your true identity, and your reality.

Now let’s look at facebook.

Once again, you must consider your strategy, and not just for facebook.  If you want your web appearance to be professional, or you are looking for a job, understand that many employers and internet savvy (or skeptical) connections will also look at your facebook profiles.  If anything on your facebook profile doesn’t portray the person you want others to see, you should avoid it, and remove anything that detracts.  If your facebook profile is for family and friends, then obviously the content is less restricted.  Your photo should always be tasteful as you never know who might see it.  Your security settings dictate who can see what, but be aware that your posts can be seen in your connections profiles that might not carry the same restrictions. 

Casual activity on facebook, like games, should be limited to non working hours as your connections can see when you are playing games by the update times.  If you want to make your profile more professional, you can choose to not show games, polls, etc. that your connections are playing from displaying on your profile.

In summary, make sure you have thought out your social media strategy, weighed the options and alternatives, and your participation and profile fit that strategy.

More details about what you might want to include in your LinkedIn profile can be found in my “LinkedIn Quick Start Guide for Ministries” in the box files on my LinkedIn profile at http://LinkedIn.com/in/billbender .

As always, thank you for reading Linked4Ministry.  If you are new here, the best way to receive all the new posts is to subscribe for e-mail updates at the top right.  If you have been following Linked4Ministry and find it helpful, please consider sharing it with other ministry partners that it could benefit.  It’s easy to do by clicking on the following buttons, and it’s OK to click more than one !

Blessings,
Bill Bender
Anothen Life Ministries

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One response to this post.

  1. […] is all about Credibility, Trust, and Your Brand, and that includes your LinkedIn profile, your photo, your headline, your current and past employment, your status changes, the number of connections […]

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