oopsThe news is full of truths, half-truths and alternative truths.

Your reputation suffers if there is an inkling of a misstatement on your LinkedIn profile (to choose a favorite topic (!)).

The scenario (and from my upcoming book:)

Suppose I need a referral of a trusted financial advisor for baby boomers with older parents. You are one of those financial advisors, and I may know you from a brief meeting at a chamber event. Another day I am meeting with Carolyn, who has already endorsed you for your skills in Eldercare Financial Planning, and I explain why I need her input on the short list of quality candidates. Ahead of my conversation I did my homework and see you and she are mutual LinkedIn connections. I delved further in your profile and I saw she endorsed you for a skill in Eldercare Financial Planning. I ask her during my meeting how she knows your skill in that area. She stammers, then with some embarrassment admits she has no experience with you in that skill area.

How do you look?

How does she feel?

What do I think of you both now, especially you?

Have I wasted my time?

Uh oh, your work requires you to be thorough. Your brand is to be reliable and have an eye out for possible technical (tax, legal, documentary) roadblocks and to be able to react to new financial opportunities.

But your LinkedIn profile is out of synch with your brand. You missed something. I think to myself: that if you are not very complete, missing details in your own profile, how will you handle my financial details in a complex financial situation? Will you skip over something that might cause problems down the road?

Farfetched? No, not really. I hear real stories like this frequently and it’s uncomfortable for all involved. No one wants to feel embarrassed. Worse, you allowed an endorsement from someone with no real experience with your skill in that area, and your pristine reputation is now spotty in my view. Your mistake or not, I may no longer consider you and move along to someone else. It is best not to allow yourself to be placed in such a situation especially since it’s quick and easy to fix an errant endorsement before it gets noticed. Negative perceptions can be long term.

The same type of error was revealed yesterday in a coaching session when a membership in a prestigious association (since allowed to lapse) appeared 3 times in a profile. Oops!

Suffer the details, folks.