Which email do I use for my LinkedIn profile?

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If you are familiar with LinkedIn, adding a possible contact to your network only means that you request a connection with them. A pop-up window will further sort out how you actually know that person. Then that person can decide whether or not they know you (or even if they want to know you) when they choose to accept your connection. Nothing tells the ‘connector’ (me), the other person’s email address, unless I found that person’s personal email address through my email.

Recently I found someone I know on LinkedIn and asked her to become part of my network. Apparently she wasn’t using it regularly and figured she’d create a new one using her work email. After letting me know this via email, I immediately got a bad taste in my mouth. I believe that setting up your primary email address as a work email is a bad idea.

Now, note I said primary address. LinkedIn allows you the option of adding multiple emails to your account. Well, “allows” being a liberal term. I think the reasons to provide the ability to add other emails is obvious: this way they can get more people to join from your email contacts. But setting up a separate account to use purely for your work is not something I would do for a few reasons.

Use an Email Address You Own

First of all, using a work email as your primary email is essentially using an email you don’t own. If you quit or lose your job, your primary email is what gets you logged into that account. LinkedIn only allows one account to be associated with each email, so if you need to get back to your work LinkedIn profile to contact your connections or even close the account, it can be tricky at best to log back in if you already have a personal account set up.

Use It for Its Intended Purpose

You won’t be twice as professional by having two LinkedIn profiles.Secondly, LinkedIn is a professional networking site. Its intended use is for business people to do business stuff, not personal stuff. When work colleagues find me on Facebook, for example, I [usually] ask them to connect with me on LinkedIn instead. LinkedIn is my 9-5 image, whereas Face Book is my after 5 face. I unwind there and don’t want to worry about what Joe in Accounting is going to say tomorrow morning about some embarrassing status update that Mike from long-ago childhood is reminiscing about. My point is that if you are on LinkedIn, you should be using it as a professional anyway, so having multiple accounts is kind of moot. You won’t be twice as professional by having two LinkedIn profiles.

Don’t Make It Hard to Find You

Thirdly, it makes the search for you that much more difficult. If you have two separate accounts, and people are looking for you as the expert in your area, they won’t know which one to go to. If I were that person looking for you, I probably would give up altogether instead of trying to decide which profile to contact. I might not be the best example here, but there are probably others out there who feel the same.

The Alternative is Time Consuming!

Finally, managing two simultaneous accounts on LinkedIn is time-consuming! After some time you will find that all the stuff you are doing on LinkedIn (joining discussions, connecting with old colleagues, recruiting future employees, finding speakers, events and other stuff) will take up more time than it’s worth on two accounts, and you’ll end up ditching one of the accounts. And it’s not possible to merge the two at a later date.

If you are still not comfortable with people knowing your personal email address, I suggest setting up a forwarding email instead. LinkedIn is a powerful professional networking site that allows you to brand yourself as an expert in whatever field you are in. Why make it more difficult for others to see that you are an expert by making it difficult to determine which profile you want them to use to locate you?