What’s in a name?

“Hello my name is” by maybeemily on Flickr

If you’ve never read the LinkedIn user agreement, it’s worth a look. It contains a lot of useful information about what LinkedIn expects from you, and what you should expect from LinkedIn.

One place where the user agreement provides specific guidance is in regard to the name field on your profile. While it might seem like a great place to insert contact information or a call to action, doing so will get you a slap on the wrist from LinkedIn. Here’s the official directive:

Do not include a link or an email address in the name field…Please also protect sensitive personal information such as your email address, phone number, street address, or other information that is confidential in nature

The user agreement also prohibits creating “a user profile for anyone other than a natural person.” So if you want to create a social media profile for your dog, you might want to consider Facebook instead of LinkedIn.

You might wonder whether LinkedIn actually pays attention to this stuff–and the answer is yes. A few months ago, I got a email from a contact who received this message:

Dear LinkedIn Member,

LinkedIn periodically reviews accounts on the site, and we have found that the first and/or last name on your account is not in compliance with our User Agreement. All LinkedIn accounts must be listed under your real first and last name.

We ask that you do one of the following to correct this issue:

Update the first and last name fields on your account
Merge two accounts together (if you already have another account listed under your real name)
Close your account

IMPORTANT: If no changes are made to your account before it is reviewed again, it will be subject to restrictions or termination.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

In this case, the issue was that his phone number was part of the name field. While the message above was vague enough to omit that specifically, it was serious enough to get the recipient’s attention–and rightfully so.

In the near future, I’ll share more nuggets of wisdom from the user agreement. As always, drop a note in the comments if you’d like me to answer a specific question.

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