Episode 160: Are You Being Catfished on LinkedIn
On this episode of Making Sales Social Live, LinkedIn Whisperer Brynne Tillman and LinkedIn Sherpa Bob Woods tackle a crucial topic: How to Spot a Fake LinkedIn Profile or a LinkedIn Catfish.
The number of LinkedIn profiles connected to automation or (worse yet) identity theft is growing. Learn how to protect yourself. Listen to this episode and discover five identifying factors of a LinkedIn catfish that will help you outsmart and avoid them.
Bob Woods 00:00
Welcome my fellow peeps to Making Sales Social Live! Brought to you by Social Sales Link. I’m Bob Woods, the LinkedIn Sherpa, and I’m joined by fellow LinkedIn and social selling professional, also known as the LinkedIn whisperer, Brynne Tillman. How are you doing, Brynne?
Brynne Tillman 00:16
Good, Bob, how are you?
Bob Woods 00:18
I am doing great, doing great. So let’s talk about fake accounts on LinkedIn.
Welcome to Making Sales Social Live! As we share LinkedIn and social selling training strategies and tips that will have an immediate impact on your business. Join Brynne Tillman and me, Bob Woods, every week, Making Sales Social Live!
(This is the recorded version of our weekly Making Sales Social Live Show.)
Bob Woods 00:50
And something that God knows I wish we didn’t have to talk about but we need to talk about it because Brynne and I are seeing more and more fake accounts lately from all sorts of people, unfortunately. And they have been started by people who have, you know, reasons. So the two big things going on here are people who are either creating these fakes to accommodate automation and the worst reason people are actually pretending to be other people. So Brynne, I know you’ve got a really good story about someone who went out to a company and got busted by a person who was trying to be the attorney.
Brynne Tillman 01:37
Go ahead and tell my story, Bob.
Bob Woods 01:37
You don’t remember this story. So evidently, there was someone who went and hired a third party firm to use. And tell me if I’m saying something wrong to actually do prospecting for them, and then one of these people bid, quote, unquote, and that person happened to be an attorney. So when the person who originally did the hiring of the third party company reached out to the attorney, the attorney said, “Well, wait, I want to talk to Amanda” or whatever the name of the fake profile was, and the guy said, well, actually, that was a fake profile. You know, this is really me. I’m the real person. And this attorney then proceeded to, let’s just politely say, give this other gentleman an earful about it.
Brynne Tillman 02:34
Yeah and absolutely and thank you for reminding me but yeah, that’s so ultimately, what happened is that the company paid another company to go out and pretend you know, AI, go out and pretend and they created a fake account but here’s the thing, and I’m going to just start with this from the very top level and this is a perfect example. When you start a relationship with a lie, you will never, ever be able to build an authentic relationship. It can never work. So keep in mind, and we’re going to talk about –We don’t expect that you guys listening out there setting up fake accounts, what we want to do is help you identify the fake accounts and, this came out of I saw for the first time, an MTV TV show about catfishing from a dating perspective. Oh my gosh, this is happening on LinkedIn. So with that said, Bob, let’s get into how to spot a fake account.
Bob Woods 03:45
So we’ve got five ways that or five things that you can essentially identify a fake account. So the first one is if the profile photo, in other words, the photo of the person on the profile just looks just too good to be true. I mean, you know, a very unrealistic, good model quality photo, you know, that it’s probably fake and that’s not to say that there aren’t good looking people out there who have photos who are real people. It’s just you know, as it is, right. They look airbrushed. If you just look at it and go okay, that person just really doesn’t look real. What you can do is use Google reverse image search, if you see other places where that photo appears, especially in Adobe, Photo Stock sites like Adobe or Pixlr, or any of those types of things. You know that that is a fake profile.
Brynne Tillman 04:48
That’s a big one, that reverse image is great. The other thing from a woman’s perspective is military men that are reaching out from a man’s perspective, it’s a beautiful woman, that’s airbrushed but I can’t tell you how many military men reach out to me to connect and I’m like, you’re really not. If you’re in the military, active especially, you’re not really using LinkedIn and why would you reach out to me? So? Yeah, keep that in mind, that’s a big one, not to say that if a military man reaches out to you…if he checks all the other boxes, it might be fine.
Bob Woods 05:29
Yep, it might be fine. Yeah, and that’s the next thing… (Brynne: And what’s the next box to look at?) The next box to look at is the opposite end of that. So the opposing view to that, if the profile picture on the profile is like, fuzzy, or the subject is so far back in the photo that, you know, it’s like is that a real person is that a mannequin? You know, like that type of thing. That also might be a fake profile.
Brynne Tillman 05:56
The fuzzy profiles, really tiny profiles, all pictures, all of those things are definitely fake. See, now I’m all flustered.
Bob Woods 06:09
Number three. So this involves more of the whole profile in general, not just a photo. So two things and there’s actually even a third here, A, you don’t know them, B, they have fewer than 100 connections and if you get both of those together, I also have a further qualifying factor if they don’t have any mutual connections to you, because they find you otherwise. So that is another good indication that it’s probably fake and may not be fake. So there’s always that caveat it might not be but chances are good.
Brynne Tillman 06:46
Can I share? So what you can do is you can actually reply to them before you accept the connection request. So when you are in the My Network tab, where you would accept that, if you click on reply, before you accept, you can send a quick little message like “Hey, George, thanks for the connection request. I’m curious, how did you find me?” So if you ask that question, and then ignore them, if they don’t get back to you or if they get back to you with a legitimate answer, you may consider connecting, but I live and die by that reply before accepting.
Bob Woods 07:27
Yep, that is, that is a crucial thing to have and hopefully LinkedIn will keep on having it. So the next one is, and actually, this is something that you really need to evaluate if you’re going to use this as a potential qualifier. So they have the same photo on every social media platform, which I have that going on myself, there are a lot of people who actually do have that because they have because they want uniformity among all of their socials. The catch here, though, is if there are also no other images posted for months, or even years on those other ones. So in other words, they’re not active in those as well, then chances are, it’s a fake. So don’t necessarily use the same photo on every social media profile alone as a disqualifier. Look at the activity as well, if there’s no activity there, oh and by the way, a lot of these fake profiles on LinkedIn will also have no activity associated with them as well, then, you know, it’s probably a fake.
Brynne Tillman 08:36
Yeah, you know, and especially if it’s that model picture on everything single profile.
Bob Woods 08:41
Yeah, you can definitely combine some of these as well, because we don’t want you to be catfished, that is for sure. So the next one, number five, their work history or alumni listings are suspicious. This is huge, because anyone can connect to a company page or an alumni page without any vetting. So you can theoretically, say that you work for Microsoft and attach to Microsoft. and you know, if Microsoft doesn’t catch it, and a company the size of Microsoft, guess what, probably ain’t gonna catch it.
Brynne Tillman 09:24
So this is a big thing that I want to talk about. If you look at a profile, and it says vice president L’Oreal, and there’s no other work history or graduated Summa Cum Laude from some big university and there’s nothing else in here and they have three connections in your number four but you’ll notice they’ve got these big roles in these fake profiles that are supposed to impress you and then also you’ll look like vice president is lowercase or, you know, they’ve got this really, you know, they graduated from Harvard yet there’s grammar mistakes everywhere. So you want to look at that alumni and that work history, that’s a big one identifying a fake profile.
Bob Woods 10:15
Yeah, especially when there was one that actually we caught and actually, our friend Gunnar Hood caught in one of our classes last week, where the photo was majorly sauce, the headline and their position was very similar to what Brynne had said and then you can tell when you went through, like the alumni and through the companies that this person supposedly worked for, and this is something else you could look forward to. It looks like they just copied and pasted directly from websites without adding anything else or you know, it just, you know, it reads very generic, very robotic, because it comes from the websites. So, you know, those should also raise major red flags in your mind as well.
Brynne Tillman 11:06
Yeah, this is something I didn’t know about. So Lisa states, if you have any questions about a company, be sure to check the Secretary of State for the state they claim they’re in. I did not know that. So we will look into that, that’s a great thing.
Bob Woods 11:21
That won’t help you with individuals, but that will help you with companies if the individual access and also the company has like, “Okay, I don’t get this.” Yep, absolutely.
Brynne Tillman 11:31
And another thing I want to throw in, that’s not necessarily in our list, but the incomplete profile. If they really have almost nothing on it, you have to think why are they reaching out to you? If they don’t know you, you may not have shared connections, they haven’t engaged with your content, how did you get to be number seven when they’re halfway across the world. So a lot of them just use some common sense suspicion with a lot of these and sometimes I completely ignore them, especially if I, we had one where I forgot what client we were working with and it was, they had zero connections. He was the first person that was reaching out and here’s what happens with these fake accounts, is they get shut down all the time and they’re constantly starting all the time. So very few of them have a lot of connections for that reason.
Bob Woods 12:25
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely!
Brynne Tillman 12:26
Do we have another one?
Bob Woods 12:25
No, that’s it where we’re just gonna kind of summarize our thoughts now. So I mean, you know, obviously, you know, number one, we are positive that no one who’s listening to us right now is actually going to employ anything like this. So we know that yeah, we’re sure, we’re sure, we have good people listening to us.
Brynne Tillman 12:50
And if you are employing these because someone sold you on a bill of goods, stop.
Bob Woods 12:54
Yes. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, that yeah, I could, I could potentially see something like that happening, good people who got catfished into actually using this type of thing, so don’t do it. Obviously don’t work with any company running a sales campaign with reps in air quotes using fake profiles because you can tell that they just don’t care about building quality, authentic transparent relationships with someone because you don’t want to be involved with a company that’s catfishing. I certainly don’t. I’m assuming you don’t either Brynne.
Brynne Tillman 13:33
Yeah, that’s great. Well, this was good. Let’s bring it in for a landing.
Bob Woods 13:37
Let’s bring it home. So thank you again, for joining us here on Making Sales Social Live! Lisa says,”we are good ones.” Yes, we are. We are all good without a doubt. If you’re live with us on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter right now, we do this live every week and we are real and genuine. So keep an eye out for our live sessions. If you haven’t listened to us on our podcast, or if you are listening but you haven’t subscribed, go ahead and hit that subscribe or follow button. If you want more info about our podcast in general socialsaleslink.com/podcast is where you want to go. We do two shows weekly, this one and our Making Sales Social interview series where we talk with leaders and experts in sales, marketing, business and many more areas.
So when you’re out and about and you are being genuine, authentic and yourself on LinkedIn, be sure to make your sales social. Thanks everybody.
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