As the moderator of a couple of LinkedIn discussion groups, I find myself logging on to LinkedIn on a regular basis. Indeed, between approving new members, moderating comments and deleting attempts to post commercial marketing and other unwanted content, I find myself on LinkedIn far more often than on Facebook or other social media.
This morning, on logging on, I found an image of my own smiling face next to the logo of leading international practice Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. For the benefit of readers whose devices are not downloading images, my portrait and logo were presented beneath the heading "Picture Yourself at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer" and the caption beneath them read "Jeremy Phillips, Media and Communication at Freshfields".
While I have the greatest respect for Freshfields and enjoy the friendship and company of several people who work there, I was a little startled by this advertisement. My first thought was that this was not something that I had authorised and that others might see it too. I then decided that, most probably, LinkedIn's software was sufficiently subtle to enable the portrait of the account holder to be displayed only when the account holder logged in. My third thought was that this was presumably a cheap and cheerful way of advertising one's vacant positions only to those people whose interests and skills matched those sought by Freshfields. Clicking through to the link which Freshfields so thoughtfully provided, here, I then discovered that the firm's LinkedIn account has close on 26,000 followers. Who might they all be? Actual and prospective employees? Clients? Hopeful trainees? Information-gatherers from Freshfields' competitors? My final thought, somewhat mischievously, was that I could easily delete the heading, cut and paste the rest on to my email signature and make it look as though I was working for the firm:
All of this leads to the question: how important is LinkedIn to the small and sole practices that make up the core of this blog's readership?