I was doing a bit of maintenance on my LinkedIn profile yesterday, just making sure everything was still accurate. In addition to being a product manager at a large software company, I also have a few side projects. There is Oberon Socks, my nefarious bid to take over the world by peddling really awesome socks, and there is also Spark Charleston, a collaborative work space for start-ups that I run in downtown Charleston, SC. I don't get paid, but it's a blast to work on and I get to meet all sorts of interesting people and companies (not to mention a cool place to work when I need to get out of the office!).
But back to the issue at hand. So I was on LinkedIn, and made a small change to how my involvement with Spark is described. Here is how it showed up in the activity feed of my 300-odd connections, many of whom are coworkers, former coworkers, or clients:
Within minutes I got a LinkedIn message from a former coworker, wishing me luck at my new job and expressing surprise that I left my company. Oops. I have no idea how many other professional contacts are now under the same impression.
There is a way to remove an update from your activity feed, but only after the fact, and it's a bit scary that a simple wording change can cause this much misunderstanding. It's a testament to LinkedIn that updates to user profiles are taken this seriously (can you imagine this happening on Facebook?), but in the future I'll have to think harder about how a LinkedIn update might be perceived before hitting the save button.