Wondering whether to add in extra words to your name on LinkedIn?

Heather Townsend
The Excedia Group
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I’ve noticed an increase in a practice on LinkedIn of adding in extra information to your LinkedIn name. In this article, I will explore the pros and cons of doing this practice and better ways to achieve the visibility and credibility you require on LinkedIn. 

So, what do I mean by this practice? It could be:

  • adding in your phone number or contact details to your name, e.g. Heather Townsend 01234 48 0123
  • adding in stars around your name, e.g. *Heather Townsend*
  • adding in keywords to your name field, e.g. Heather Townsend | Executive Coach
  • adding in your qualifications, e.g. Heather Townsend MCIPD

Why do folks choose to do this:

Greater visibility in searches for their profile
They believe, in the case of keywords, that they will turn up in more searches. Having done a selective trial of this, I saw no evidence for this. In fact, after I had removed the offending ‘executive coach’ from my name, I saw an increase of 20% of the number of searches I turned up in, and a 100% increase in the amount of views of my profile.

If you want people to find you, when they are looking for you then you must not add in extra characters to your first or second name field. Otherwise, your profile – the one they are trying to find – will end up at the bottom of the search results. (Seriously!)

Makes you more memorable when you participate in discussions
Mmmm. Really? It may make you more memorable, but probably for the wrong reasons. It seems gimmicky, potentially desperate, spammy and is that the type of 1st impression you want to give? Actually, you want to be memorable for all the right reasons, for example:

  • adding in valuable and insightful comment to discussions
  • including in some personality to your profile, rather than a bland corporate type of profile
  • starting interesting discussions

Makes it easier for prospects and people to contact you
There is no counter argument to this. If you do add your contact details into your name it does make it very easy for people on LinkedIn to contact you. After all, they don’t need to go to all the hassle of becoming a 1st degree connection. However, and this is a big however, the LinkedIn terms of service expressly forbids the practice of adding in anything in the ‘First and surname’ fields that is not your name.

What happens if I break the LinkedIn terms of service?

Sometimes nothing happens. However, without warning LinkedIn may suspend your account, without warning for breaking it's terms of service. You will then be left without a LinkedIn account for generally a week or so. Therefore, if you do decide to add in extra stuff to your name fields on LinkedIn, be aware that your LinkedIn account could be suspended as a result...

In summary,
There is no magic solution, short cut or easy ways to win business on LinkedIn. Focus on letting your content do the talking in the right places – that’s the best way for success on LinkedIn

Author Credit

Heather Townsend helps professionals become the Go-To-Expert. She is the author of the  award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the ‘FT Guide To Business Networking’ and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 1000 professionals at every level of the UK's most ambitious professional practices.

Heather Townsend will be appearing at the 'How to make partner' conference in London on the 24th April 2013.


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