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Weekly take: Sorry, but let’s keep LinkedIn professional

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Posts on LinkedIn should be informative and professional – let’s not turn it into another Instagram or Facebook

Forgive me if I sound like a huge bore, but is anyone else a bit fed up with having their LinkedIn feeds clogged up with people’s personal posts and pictures?

A son or daughter’s birthday, a triumphant photo as they cross the finishing line of a marathon, a holiday sunset snap.

These aren’t specific examples, so don’t take offence if you’ve posted something similar lately, but they illustrate a growing trend of LinkedIn becoming more and more personal and less and less professional.

I use LinkedIn for three primary purposes: to promote Managing IP’s content, to read lawyers’ takes on the latest intellectual property industry updates, and to connect with relevant people.

If I wanted to see holiday snaps, a fancy meal that I cannot eat or family-time photos, I’d hop over to Facebook or Instagram.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people displaying their human side, but there’s a limit.

When it comes to these personal LinkedIn posts, I find there are two types of offenders.

First, there are personal updates that make no secret of this fact.

For example, a photo of someone enjoying the beach on holiday, maybe with a few words about what a wonderful time they are having and how it’s important to unwind.

Fantastic, I’m so pleased for you, but you’ve posted this in the wrong place.

Tenuous link

More irritating, however, are those that centre on something laudable the person has achieved, which they then try to link back to professionalism and business.

Look at this delicious dinner I have created, this teaches me that patience and a little experimentation can go a long way. Here I am finishing a marathon with lots of other runners – we should all remember that belief in yourself and a collaborative atmosphere can help you succeed.

I saw one lengthy post, which I can only guess was intended to highlight the importance of loyalty, where the poster took several hundred words to essentially tell the world that he had been married to the same person for quite a long time.

A lovely story, but not relevant to anyone’s professional needs.

I’d say the links to professionalism in all these types of posts are tenuous at best – if I was being kind.

It would be better if the poster were honest and admitted that they just wanted to show off their culinary, athletic or even matrimonial skills.

But that doesn’t mean LinkedIn is not misused on a professional level too.

Annoying but not quite as egregious, are those posts that try to stay professionally relevant but appear a tad desperate. This is particularly true when it comes to IP.

This genre of post tends to take a news event and link it back to the subject.

Did you know the World Cup is on? Well, you’ll never guess what. Some players you’ve heard of own trademarks.

That said, some LinkedIn accounts do post very useful things.

The EUIPO posts relevant case-law updates and links to its webinars. Some law firms are also very good at keeping up to speed with the latest judgments, industry-relevant consultations and sharing their predictions.

This, as well as providing the opportunity to open new business networks, is the type of content LinkedIn was, and should be, about.

Client focus

Last year, Managing IP spoke to lawyers who had built a significant following on social media (not just LinkedIn) about how they get their message across.

While some said a mix of personal and professional posts is fine, most said they tended to focus on client needs. For the most part, that did not include boastful or personal achievement posts, they said.

We should all take note of that.

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