LinkedIn and My Multiple Personalities

I lead a double life… in which I’m far from alone. Most of us have multiple identities. At a minimum, we distinguish and maintain boundaries between our work and family/community lives. Online, that means keeping professional social networking separate from friends & family nets. Me, I use LinkedIn exclusively for work and Facebook for family, friends, and community. I have a couple of separate Twitter accounts. I recognize that most of what interests my work network is going to be a total bore for my brother-in-law. Only on topic-focused platforms such as Yelp does the personal/professional dichotomy not matter.

But my situation is more complicated: I have two professional identities. I have two distinct paid jobs with two non-intersecting networks. I spend most of my time covering text analytics, sentiment analysis, and data visualization as an IT industry analyst and consultant. (Check out my up-coming Sentiment Analysis Symposium conference in New York.) And I’m an elected government official, serving on the Takoma Park, Maryland city council. Believe me, the jobs don’t mix.

Professional networking means LinkedIn, yet I’m in the awkward position of turning down legitimate LinkedIn connection requests that don’t fit my LinkedIn focus. I reserve Linkedin for my 40-hour per week (hah!) job, so I ax invitations from political and community and contacts. Sorry!

Wouldn’t it be great if LinkedIn created the concept of personas, of different faces shown to different cohorts, reflecting our collective multiple personalities?

No, I’m not going to create distinct, separate LinkedIn accounts, one for each role. LinkedIn doesn’t allow the practice. (“To use the Services, you agree that… you will only have one LinkedIn account, which must be in your real name,” per the User Agreement.) Put aside that curating a LinkedIn profile is hard work. Applications (including apps and Web browsers) don’t support login to more than one account at a time, so you’d have to use a different for each of your accounts. Given the widespread use of Oauth for networked service authentication, you’d face major inconvenience.

What would LinkedIn profile personas look like? Facebook has something similar figured out, via the ability to create a page (which will have its own, distinct URL/address) and the ability to designate “Who should see this?” for the content you post. This stuff isn’t the same as ability to maintain multiple personas within a single account, but it works for Facebook. Google+, of course, similarly allows selective sharing with designated circles and communities.GplusCircles

So LinkedIn, what I want is this:

  • A distinct tag-line, background photo, and Background-section summary for each persona.
  • Ability to select the elements that are shown in the Experience, Skills, Organizations, Honors & Awards, and other sections, and to control their order.
  • Ability to associate Recommendations, Groups (group memberships), etc. with a persona.
  • Ability to separate Connections by persona, and to determine which set(s) of connections see a given status update, photo, or post.

Doable? I’d think so.

What’s in it for LinkedIn?

Satisfaction. Loyalty. Expanded use, because if we could create personas, we’d connect with a whole lot more people and post many more Linked updates.

LinkedIn, do you recognize that one-size-fits-each doesn’t cut it in today’s complex social world? Personas. I have more than one. LinkedIn can match my multiple-personality needs by becoming a multi-faceted social platform.

What do you say?

9 thoughts on “LinkedIn and My Multiple Personalities

  1. Great description of truly a real problem. For me I am Professional Contract Pilot 25% of the time and a Information Consultant the remaining 100% of the time. I need the ability to serve both profiles with a single account. In some cases I might want my personas to cross but in most I don’t. Would love to see something like this come out with LinkedIn.

  2. Oh this is exactly what I want and need! I’m a professional nanny AND a freelance copyeditor. Those two networks have zero inherent connections, and it’s frustrating that I can’t curate both professional personas effectively but rather have to choose only one! I am not a millennial, but I suspect that this will becoming an increasing issue as the younger generations (millennia’s and onward) join the professional forces.

    Come on, LinkedIn; join the 21st century!

    1. Wow, rude comment from LinkedIn. What about those of us who want to change careers, and want to connect with other individuals who are part of the new career? Not possible through LinkedIn? I never liked it anyway.

  3. 100% with you here and I believe that the changing landscape in the way we work and the freedoms we have access to are going to continue to create this dilemma for more and more professionals. I have spent most of my life in the software industry but also teach work skills as part of personal community service goals and am a musician. I maintain all three activities as a freelancer working on a project basis in IT and being selective with the community courses and musical projects I take on. Really hard to sell all of that on one profile and not deter potential clients in the IT sector who are afraid of the diversity/perceived lack of focus. With technology we can live and work multiple lives these days. It would be great if LinkedIN evolved to support that.

  4. Wayne James, spot on when you mentioned “…Really hard to sell all of that on one profile and not deter potential clients in the IT sector who are afraid of the diversity/perceived lack of focus” …….exactly my dilemma.
    Linked In forces you to exhibit a conventional career path, just as that what potential employers would want to see, I guess its not a good platform to promote career change, or for people with multiple, diverse or morphing professional goals.

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