Lately I noticed a fast growing trend that companies are creating personal (user) profiles on LinkedIn and start connecting with people and joining groups. As an owner of a large Recruiter group on LinkedIn, Recruitment Consultants with over 64.000 members, I’ m getting 100+ requests per day to join. More and more of these requests are from companies (like NAME .COM) and not from a natural person. Last year I saw 1 out of 200+ requests like that, today it’s approximately 1 out of 50!
But don’t that. It’s a bad idea. I understand that you are trying to build a network around your company but this is not the way. First of all, LinkedIn is a PERSONAL and SOCIAL network and its members expect to connect with real people. People want to connect with people. For this reason it’s not allowed by LinkedIn to “Create a user profile for anyone other than a natural person” (see 10.B.5 of the User Agreement). So all the effort you are putting into it now is a waste of time. When LinkedIn Customer Service notice that you are breaching their terms and conditions, your account will be suspended. And personally I hope they start proactively act on these kind of profiles as it devaluates LinkedIn as a professional network.
Looking for alternatives? Ask people to follow your LinkedIn Company Page. Nowadays you can add or change a Company Page to provide more information about your company culture, products and services (free) and job opportunities (paid option). Any LinkedIn member can follow a company to get updates on key developments. For example, see my Recruit2 Company page on LinkedIn, which includes 3 tailor made banners with links to my websites. Check also my step-by-step guide to enrich your LinkedIn Company page with information about your products and services. The disadvantage of a LinkedIn Company Page is that it’s static and you cannot communicate with your followers directly.
If you are looking for more ways to communicate with your audience, you may want to create a Group on LinkedIn. Here you can post discussions and jobs for free, send weekly announcements to all members, see full profiles and send direct messages. LinkedIn Groups, run by companies, are great for connecting alumni or special interest groups.
But the best option really is to let your employees do the communication, using their own personal profiles. Yes I know that’s scary… but people buy from people, not companies.