Sometimes you get so engaged and excited that you forget some of the chaos you cause by going 90 miles an hour.  I had an interesting conversation with a former co-worker who brought to my attention how this was happening to me and causing confusion about my company’s brand.  The conversation centered on some confusion about my current job status and many people had asked her who do I work for.  Even my wife had someone ask her at last week’s Media Leaders event, “What the Heck does your husband do?”

Multiple positions on LinkedIn can confuse audience

Multiple positions and brands can create confusion on your LinkedIn Profile

Now I did realize in the back of my mind that this was happening but was not really aware of the confusion it was causing and how it could affect my company’s brand.  So I wanted to take this opportunity to clear the air and set the record straight as well as share the insight I discovered during this process.

Most of the confusion stemmed from my LinkedIn profile. In the past 18 months several changes to my “current position” made it appear that I was changing jobs without leaving the last one.  At the end of the day I had four titles in my current position space and can understand how people would say, “what does he do?”

To begin with I am and have been for the past four years the Marketing Director for Zencos, a SAS Alliance Partner that performs business intelligence consulting services.  If you work at SAS you may have heard of us.  Outside of that world most people don’t know who we are and that’s OK.  We’re a small company and we don’t have big egos.

About two years ago I became the Vice President of Social Media for the Triangle Chapter of the American Marketing Association.  At first my multiple personalities were limited to these two.  I assumed that most people would understand that my VP title at Triangle AMA is a volunteer position.  But assuming is the wrong approach and so my confusion began.

A few months later, Zencos partnered with an individual to develop a new subsidiary called Site Dynamics, which offers site selection software as a service.  I was asked to help with the marketing communications and started developing the corporate identity and marketing materials.  Part of that effort included social media and creating a LinkedIn group.  I figured it would make sense for me to add my latest title of Marketing Director for Site Dynamics to avoid confusion to this new audience of economic development agencies and site selectors.  I mean they have no idea who Zencos is.  So I added a new position to my LinkedIn profile for Site Dynamics.

I figured that was enough, but low and behold, Zencos entered another partnership and created a new subsidiary called SignalShare that offered event based Wi-Fi communications and analytics services.  Now this was where I got a bit too excited.  I created the brand name and designed the logo.  I was able to secure the launch event and was able to write my own title.  So I went hog wild and added another position to my LinkedIn profile and this time why not make it a Vice President position.

OK cool, I have four current positions, well three full time and one volunteer on my profile.  Most people should be able to figure that out, this should not be a problem right? Wrong! It did create confusion about me and my company.  Some people even thought I was SignalShare only, others knew me from Zencos and my fellow Triangle AMA members knew me as the social media guy.  I really made a mess of my profile and created confusion around Zencos’ brand.

So what did I do?  Well I discussed it with my boss and we both agreed that although unplanned, the end result was not what we wanted.  I decided then and there to delete the Site Dynamics and SignalShare positions and put them under my Zencos position as subsidiaries, which is what they are.  I also updated my Triangle AMA position to reflect the fact that it is a volunteer position, hence not full time.

The other problem I discovered what trying to explain this when meeting people in real life was even more confusing.  SO my lesson learned when answering the question what do you do is to say I’m a marketing director and see where it goes.  Don’t try and tell that person all of my titles and activities, they get lost after job number two!

Have you found confusing profiles on LinkedIn? Do you think it can affect the company’s brand when employees look like they have multiple jobs?

Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald started Square Jaw Media to document strategies and techniques he had used over his experience working in marketing and communications since 1990. During this time Brian wrote about many of the exciting Raleigh social media events where great knowledge was being shared and tries to share some of the tips and tricks. . Read Brian's full bio.