The Practice FLEXibly Blog
Explorations on modernizing psychological and psychotherapeutic practice for our fellow practitioners, students, and professional training and consultation clients.
Michael Decaire, M.A, C.Psych, R.Psych, RP
FLEX Psychology, Founder
Why LinkedIn is important for your practice and how your fat thumbs may cause you a whole lot of grief and some lost sleep.
With a user base of 500 million users, LinkedIn is dwarfed by social networks like Facebook with its 2 billion daily users. Still, according to The Omnicore Agency, 40% of those 500 million use LinkedIn daily, 44% of them make over $75,000 per year, and over a million professionals have published posts on the platform.
Looking within your profession, whichever profession that is, it is pretty easy to spot the movers and shakers. They are usually the most active users on the site and they
have unusually large networks. For these users, LinkedIn is usually a promotion vehicle where you will see many of your professions authors, trainers, and speakers.
The more traditional LinkedIn user maintains a smaller network of clinical peers and allied professionals that they tend to personally know and, to a degree, endorse the work of. In fields like psychology, where traditional client testimonials are not permitted, LinkedIn’s skill endorsement and peer testimonials can add to your credibility. I can speak with confidence, that this credibility goes a long way.
I have a few referral sources that routinely share with me the name of clients they have sent to my office (this is permitted through PHIPA’s Circle of Care provisions). I have noticed that a high percentage of those clients view my LinkedIn profile before they make a call and sometimes without even bothering to go to my webiste. They generally do not attempt to “connect” over the site, but I know they were on my page because you can view who has been looking at your profile if the “viewer” has not activated a privacy filter to disable that function. Rightfully so, these potential clients are vetting you before they call.
Prospective or past clients do rarely request a connection, but I have generally chosen to decline those requests. A client who “likes” your business Facebook page or “follows” your twitter account is signing up for a unidirectional connection to you. This means they receive news updates and marketing from you, but you receive nothing from them. Your LinkedIn network, in contrast, is bidirectional. They will see your updates, but you will also see their updates. This does raise the potential for unintended privacy risks and disclosures. Occasionally these requests come from the parents of my patients, which means they may also be inadvertently risking the privacy of their child, who may at this point even be an adult and in full control of that privacy (e.g. “Why does my hair stylist John follow this child psychologist? Must be for his kids, that Billy is a bit hyper”).
I have actually wondered why a few of these people have wanted to join my network in the first place. The financial advisors and real estate agents make sense. They are those “movers and shakers” who are maintaining massive networks for the purposes of marketing. They probably add everyone in their contact list. But, John the hair stylist?
Today it became immediately clear to me that John the hair stylist probably made a simple mistake. A mistake I personally made last night. Given the frequency of talks and trainings I have been asked to provide over the last year and in the months ahead, I recently chose to move on from the “traditional” LinkedIn user model to become a “move and shaker”. As a result, I spent a great deal of going through the email inboxes that were magically “scraped” by LinkedIn for potential contacts. I added any peers and allied professionals I have come across the years, but skipped former clients (and my own hair stylist interestingly enough)... or so I thought.
After a late night of linking-in, my cat decided to spend the witching hour doing gymnastics around the house. To confirm we were not actually amidst a home invasion from recently unemployed circus performers, I grabbed my phone to use as a flashlight and headed downstairs.
On the way saw a LinkedIn notification:
Father of Client B (not his real name) has accepted your network request
Oh oh. I must have accidentally selected one client from my scraped email list? Nope. Somehow I had “selected all” and requested connections with everyone on my list. All 700+ people, many of which were clients. In reality, I know how that “somehow” happened. LinkedIn makes it nearly impossible not to do this. They place that darn “select all” button everywhere on the page and, in an especially frustrating move, right where your normal confirmation button would be when selecting a few precise people to connect with.
Now the clients father had to accept this request, so there is a degree of consent here and I was certainly not in violation of PHIPA or any CPO/CRPO regulations that I am aware of. Still, facilitating clients to connect with me on LinkedIn is not something I want to do and it is certainly not the way I want to portray myself on that medium. So I hurriedly went to remove all the invitation requests. On the LinkedIn iPhone app, you must remove pending network requests one by one. This takes roughly an hour to remove 700 network requests and it was only that short because I chose to rapid fire click remove every request and did not take the time to determine if it was an intended request or not. (Pro Tip: I later learned that this would have taken only a few clicks on the web browser - good to know for next time). By the time I was done, my son had woken for the day and this certainly made for a long day at work!
Moral of the story? You probably should have a LinkedIn account, but be mindful that with great networking power comes great networking responsibility. Just click lightly and reap the rewards of peer endorsements or marketing if you are a “mover and shaker” (or a wannabe “mover and shaker” like me). Sure, it would be great if LinkedIn would not make this such an easy mistake to make, but it is in their best interest for your network to be large. Just do not judge the strange and unexpected networking request you get in the future. It might be on purpose, or it might be fat thumbs and a button designed to attract said thumb.
The information provided on the Practice FLEXibly Blog is for educational purposes only. These documents are not intended to be considered therapeutic guidance, clinical supervision, or legal/regulatory advice. You should verify any questions you have with your regulatory college, legal council, and appropriate agencies.