“Don’t connect with strangers on LinkedIn”, social media specialist tells lawyers

David Gilroy

Gilroy: “we all have a digital footprint”

Lawyers should not connect on LinkedIn with anyone they have not met or already communicated with, a social media specialist has warned.

The advice comes in the wake of the controversy that followed barrister Charlotte Proudman posting on Twitter a comment she received on LinkedIn when City partner Alexander Carter-Silk accepted her invitation to connect.

David Gilroy, who describes himself as director of ‘stuff and things’ at Conscious Solutions, said Mr Carter-Silk, head of European intellectual property at Brown Rudnick, had broken the rule by accepting Ms Proudman’s invitation.

Ms Proudman, who is currently researching the issue of female genital mutilation for a PhD, criticised Mr Carter-Silk’s comment about her “stunning” profile photo as sexist.

Mr Gilroy said it would have been better if Ms Proudman had anonymised the comment. “If she never wants to practise law again, and wants to be a writer and researcher, this is fantastic. She’ll get more gigs out of this than saying nothing or anonymising. If that’s what she wants, it’s fantastic PR.”

However, Mr Gilroy said that if Ms Proudman did want to practise, her decision to publish the comment on Twitter and identify the City partner was not such a good thing and would be “very difficult to shift on Google”.

For Mr Carter-Silk, Mr Gilroy said the incident could have created a “career-ending” problem. “Our reputation precedes us and we all have a digital footprint”.

Speaking at last week’s Law Society national property law conference, Mr Gilroy mentioned, as an example of careless use of social media, a young man who sent a job application to Bristol-based Conscious Solutions.

Although his LinkedIn picture looked professional, Mr Gilroy said the job seeker’s Twitter photo was less flattering, showing him in a string vest.

Worse still, he had posted a tweet saying he had been “looking for jobs all day” and had “even applied to one in Bristol”.

Mr Gilroy added that although he was not suitable for the job anyway, the digital footprint the man left behind “would have scuppered it”.

Another important rule, Mr Gilroy said, was ‘no social media after a drink’ as it should be regarded as a private conversation carried out in public and even direct messages on Twitter could be tweeted.

A further rule was: ‘If you had to tell your mum what you had said, would she approve?’

Finally, Mr Gilroy mentioned what he called the ‘rule of 10’, where for every 10 things you post only two or three should be about you.

“It can’t just be ‘me, me, me’ or people will tune out.”


    Readers Comments

  • David Gilroy says:

    Nice write up Nick, thank you, and please, next time you write about me, please call me David!!

    Let me expand on the idea of not connecting with strangers. In the seminar I did acknowledge that I had no idea whether Charlotte Proudman knew Alexander Carter-Silk before she invited him to connect with her, perhaps she did.

    When I am invited to connect by someone who I had not met or spoken with (spoken nowadays can be a decent email exchange) then I “challenge” them why I should be connected with them. Here is the exact text I use.

    Thanks for the connection invite, is there something specific you wanted to discuss? The reason I ask is that I usually have a policy of only connecting with people who a) I’ve spoken with or met b) that or they have been referred to me through another LinkedIn contact c) who are not competitors or d) work for a client company.

    If we have met or spoken, then please remind me, or feel free email back or give me a call on 0117 325 0202 or 07976 289015 if there is something specific you’d like to discuss.


    Some people write back and give me a real reason for being connected, some ignore me and probably think I’m being a complete arse. Either response (or lack of) is fine with me.

    The key thing is to personalise the connection request in the first place, tell someone why you think you should be connected, and not just want to “Add me to your professional network”.

    As for the job applicant, Mike. The bit missing from your write up was that the buy was based in Manchester. So his angst at having to apply for a job in Bristol now makes more sense doesn’t it?

    And as for “Rule No. 1 of social media”….I’m not breaking it as it’s 12 noon!

    If anyone wants to see the slides they are on SlideShare at http://www.slideshare.net/dgilroy/law-society-national-property-conference-marketing-in-a-social-age

    A ‘rough and ready’ video which was broadcast via http://www.periscope.tv and recorded to my iPhone has now been published on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTzMMurV7RY

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