C-Suite Network™

Guarding Your Professional Reputation: How to Spot Fake LinkedIn Invitations


Aesop’s age-old wisdom, “A man is known by the company he keeps,” has renewed significance in today’s digital age where LinkedIn is the key platform for professional networking. As noted by Porter Gale, “Your network is your net worth.” An appropriate set of connections on LinkedIn can play a central role in shaping your professional success and reputation. What connections you make is deserving of your attention.

The Importance of Discerning Connections

In a recent encounter shared by my business coach, Kathleen Caldwell, founder of the C-Suite Network’s Women’s Coaching & Consulting Council™ and the Women’s Success Accelerator™, an interaction on LinkedIn raised a red flag. In response to one of Kathleen’s posts, the person wrote, “I saw your post!” and expressed interest in connecting and receiving information about Kathleen’s coaching services. Before replying, Kathleen visited the person’s profile and found their Activity section was filled with the identical message to many coaches. Something seemed amiss. Wisely, Kathleen did not engage. This incident reminds us that our network should consist of individuals we’d proudly associate with, requiring a deliberate and discerning approach to connection requests.

Malicious Invitations and Cybercrime

Your LinkedIn account holds more value than you might realize. Your online reputation and connections are valuable business assets, and not everyone deserves to be in your network. Some people requesting to connect may have malicious intent. In particular, according to the FBI, investment fraudsters pose a “significant threat” to LinkedIn. CNBC reported in 2022 that users around the country lost small fortunes after connecting with someone on LinkedIn who they believed was giving them sound financial advice.

In August 2023, the cybersecurity community began to notice and document an alarming uptick in the hijacking of LinkedIn accounts. This is of concern because cybercriminals can exploit your online identity and reputation to engineer advanced phishing campaigns that target your trusted business connections. This manipulation can lead to severe consequences, damaging your professional reputation and causing harm to your connections.

The Rise and Risks of Fake Profiles

LinkedIn reported that in 2021, it removed more than 32 million fake accounts from its platforms, with its automated defenses stopping 96% of all fake accounts. That year, members reported an additional 127,000 fake profiles that were removed. Fake profiles can expose you to scams and put your own profile and network at risk.

What should you do when invited to connect?

Always vet the profiles of people before accepting (or sending) a connection request. Ask yourself whether you and the other person can add value to each other. If a person requesting to connect is not a good fit for your network, don’t connect. No further investigation is needed.

But, if you are considering connecting, thoroughly examine the profile to assure yourself that it is authentic. Here are two simple steps to follow:

Step 1:  Ask these questions as you read the profile:

  • Does the quality of the text match the headline that attracted you?
  • Are there significant grammatical and spelling errors?
  • Is the job title progression unlikely?
  • Does there seem to be a mismatch between education level and job titles?
  • Are there inconsistencies in dates and locations?
  • Are sections missing?
  • Was the profile created recently?
  • Is the number of connections extremely low?

Step 2:  Check Their Activity Section and Photo

Check their Activity section. Is it empty? If not, do responses seem authentic? Does the photo look fake? Does it look like a model? Does the pose look unusual (for example, is the person sitting in a car)? Don’t connect with a person who has used a logo or other image in place of the headshot.

If you want to dig deeper: verify the photo.

Many fake profiles use headshots available on the Internet. Here’s how to definitively check this out. Save the profile photo to your desktop. Submit the image to Google Images or TinEye and see what they return. I’ve identified and reported many fake profiles over the years using reverse image searches that revealed the same headshot used for multiple names across multiple platforms.

What to Do if You Suspect a Fake Profile

If you have reason to suspect that the profile is not genuine, report the profile to LinkedIn by clicking on the three dots in the upper right corner. LinkedIn takes feedback seriously: they will investigate, and if they concur, they will take action.

Additional Good  Practices for Safe Online Reputation Management

  • Don’t click on suspicious links or document attachments.
  • If something sounds too good to be true (job offer, financial advice, etc.), it probably is. Steer clear.
  • Don’t respond to requests for personal information. Be suspicious if someone with whom you’ve been interacting asks to move the conversation to another app or channel.
  • If you get unsolicited messages purporting to be LinkedIn Help, take a screenshot and report that to LinkedIn. LinkedIn Help staff will never charge you for help and will never ask for your login credentials
  • Use a strong LinkedIn password and implement two-factor verification.


In a world where online reputation holds immense value, executives must prioritize safeguarding their professional image. By staying vigilant, employing discernment, and taking proactive security measures, professionals can navigate LinkedIn’s vast network with confidence, ensuring their digital presence aligns with their esteemed offline reputation. Stay safe and protect your valuable online reputation.


If you’re seeking support with personal branding and LinkedIn, visit my website for tailored assistance. I offer an affordable online course and an award-winning book. Additionally, senior leaders can benefit from personalized executive brand coaching and done-for-you profiles.

With over a decade of experience, I’ve assisted numerous C-level and senior executive clients in leveraging LinkedIn to initiate conversations, impress customers, and make impactful introductions. Recognized by The American Reporter as one of the Top 6 Personal Branding Experts, I’ve authored a #1 best-selling book, LinkedIn for the Savvy Executive-2nd Edition. It has earned BookAuthority’s Best LinkedIn Books of All Time award, gold status in two categories from the International Book Awards, and a spot among the Top 100+ Best Business Books by The C-Suite Network.

Let me guide you in exploring your brand pillars, crafting your brand story, and effectively using this essential business tool.

Conduct your due diligence on my website and LinkedIn profile, then reach out for a complimentary Executive Discovery Call.

Carol Kaemmerer

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