As entrepreneurs we need to be creative to make ends meet. And especially in the early years, that might mean that we have more than 1 job. Marie Forleo calls it a ‘Bridge Job‘ (her definition, not mine). So when it comes to one’s LinkedIn Profile, the same question always comes up: Can I create two separate LinkedIn profiles or how do I organize myself & build a network with two completely different target audiences?
Two Profiles is Against LinkedIn End User Agreement
So no, you are NOT allowed to have two separate LinkedIn accounts. If another user reports you, LinkedIn has the right to shut down both of your accounts without further notice.
So What Do I Do if I Have Two Current Job Positions?
You have to choose. Or at least focus on one of the jobs, the one where you will get more leverage on LinkedIn. In other words consider your target audience. If they are more likely to be on LinkedIn for one of the jobs, than focus your profile on this one.
The Headline Should Only Include 1 Position
The headline is the most important piece of real estate on LinkedIn. It shows up in a lot of places. So you want to make sure you don’t confuse people with information about 2 completely different jobs. For example: “I’m a Personal Coach but I also help businesses with tax consultations.” What?? Very confusing, right? If you’re doing tax consultations for a side income, and are getting clients through referrals, then don’t mention it here. If on the other hand you’re coaching business is the side income, then don’t include that in the headline.
The Summary Can Include More Details
If the target audience for both of your jobs are on LinkedIn, then choose one for the headline, but add information for both in the summary. You have 2000 characters here, so this is a good place to explain your two positions in more depth.
Always use only 1 profile. Then analyze which position makes sense to focus on.
What Other LinkedIn Specialists Say
I’ve asked a few fellow LinkedIn specialists what they advise to their clients. You find their answers below:
At the time I write this, I advise more than 80% of my dual-hat clients to select one occupation and brand their profile, group participation, and all LinkedIn public activities according to that occupation.
People who know you can understand different hats. People who don’t have a basic human need to classify fast. When seeing someone for the first time on LinkedIn (and in real life, just differently), we want to know: Is John a coach or a dietician? Now let’s read on what he says.
Creating 2 profiles comes with a price. Anybody looking you up by name will see 2 profiles. It looks suspicious if both are active. A question that sometimes helps is: which activity of yours would you like to promote in the long term?
I found that either the client finds it easier to split channels (on LinkedIn I am primarily a coach, and on X I am a dietician), or they get to the point their activities promoting one hat has matured and they will add a touch of the second. But to go for 2 hats that are not complementary is extremely challenging…
I handle this by advising clients to base their profile on what they do that will get the most leverage from LinkedIn. For example if they have 2 businesses and one is B2B and the other is B2C I will recommend that their profile incorporates 80-100% of their B2B business in it. I always advise against 2 profiles. When both businesses are highly relevant and can gain traction on LinkedIn it could be more of a 50/50 split. My answer varies based on what they are doing.
Viveka von Rosen
It goes against LinkedIn’s User Agreement to have more than one profile. They will find out eventually and they will make you choose eventually. So you have to choose the business that leverages LinkedIn best. Often times the different hats might be the same color – there might be enough similarity that you can use the Summary section to explain your varied but aligned interests. Sometimes they are completely different, and then you have to make Sophie’s choice. Read Viveka’s post that addresses this same question.
First it depends on how related the different fields are. For example, I have a strong Fortune 500 Financial Planning and Analysis background, that I leveraged in small and medium business financial consulting and where I have to weave in is my social media work to help companies and individuals to get their ROI . If one is active in both areas, there were suggestions to rotate elements of your profiles depending on your campaign. For example, when I was being interviewed to be the CEO of our national fraternity, I made sure those recommendations and my related volunteer work were high on my profile. If I am speaking at a Chamber Event on Small Business Issues, I make sure those related elements on my profile are top of mind thinking of profile searches from those events. I think it is important to have all elements in your summary. The real challenge is how to craft your headline depending on the balance of your many hats.
We always have to market in a way that makes us easy to understand to our target audiences. People will judge us poorly if they think we don’t specialize in their area, and if our attention is divided. Use and optimize other tools such as blogs, a Facebook Page, etc.