The dark side of networking- how to elude social engineering

Having a large network sure has its benefits, as we’ve explored in previous posts (, but it also has some inherent dangers- one is over-exposure (where people get sick of seeing your name pop up), but a more serious one is that being visible and connected makes you a prime target for scammers, and worse, criminals.

No guy named Evan Neal looks this good and lives in Shenzen… Fake profile it must  be


Why is that? Well, been well connected and visible means that, well, it’s easy to spot you. Every search will likely to result with your name in it. Secondly, having a large network is an asset which such negative people will seek to exploit. The bigger the network, the more lucrative you are to them. Third, since the risk of getting caught in the real world for a did one has committed in the virtual world is very low, so fraudsters play the big numbers’ game- shooting at all direction (again, since you have an extended network and operate on multiple platform you are more exposed).

What do they want- or what do you have to lose? You can lose a lot, that’s for sure. From social media accounts being held captives and released only after ransom, to using your online identity to trick your friends, to actually using your information to hack your private life- email, bank account and medical information (which leads to more extortion).

So how to avoid it? Well- the trick is not to allow the initial connection. Once someone becomes a member of your community of followers you are more likely to trust him thus making it easier for him to hoax you.

How to identify a fake request? Done using email (which is usually called SPAM or Phishing), the request to connect or obtain something from you would usually be very rudimentary. But done using the social network you’re using, especially LinkedIn (and to a lesser extent, Facebook), it can be trickier to identify and avoid.

The first rule is- trust your gut feeling. If something looks better than it should it usually isn’t real. If some gorgeous girl is trying to connect with you, and you’ve never met her before- it’s not for real. Or if the image of the guy doesn’t fit his name/ geography/ gender. No image at all is extra fishy- either this person doesn’t care enough about his profile or he has something to hide. Anyway, don’t bother. I don’t connect to anyone (With the exception of people I know) people I know no

If you are still not sure- just run a google search on the image (using right click-search image.

Run Google image search


Here are the results:

Identified as a stock photo


Now, you’re almost certain this person isn’t real, or at least isn’t using his actual photo which is very suspicious. If you want to further reduce the doubt, check the network of this person. If he’s connected to a small number of people, the more likely he isn’t for real.

If you are certain this is fake, do the community a favor and report this fraudulent attempt.


I have- now the person change his profile picture into a generic image :

One less scammer…

So, a quick summary-trust your gut feeling, act and don’t fall in for too-good-to-be-true connection requests. Doing so consistently will reduce your chances of being scammed and ensure a safer environment for you and everyone in your network.

(The funny thing is- the text description is actually quite believable- He is Chinese and manages a local production facility. he wants to generate business and this is why he opened this account.  Other than the name and profile image- it all kind of checks out).



Please help me choose what should be the focus of the Owntrepreneurship blog

So, I’ve been doing this for a while and enjoying blogging very much. Almost to the point where I feel I want to write about everything that is happening to me, personally and professionally. However, I feel like sometime I lose the focus of this blog and jump too much from one area to another. So I’ve decided to ask for your help and advice, regarding where do you think I should focus this blog? please choose according to what you would like to read most or have read and enjoyed most. Also, please comment as much as possible (since the poll has only narrow selection)- perhaps there are other things I should write about?

I greatly appreciate your willingness to assist me in finding my focus!

Branding yourself – how to be acknowledged for the superstar you are


So we’ve established the many benefits of having the right sort of reputation within your organization ( But how to push this reputation beyond the limits of your organization to have a regional, national or even global reputation in your field?

Before we answer that we need to see if this fits who we are and what we are trying to achieve in our career. Some professions and lines of work are simply best kept from other people (spies, criminals and elgo-traders). Others are lines of work simply don’t benefit much from being known outside their closed circle- government officials, army officer and the likes could not gain much (at least if the aim to stay in this role) by having regional or global acknowledgment. But most other professions I can think of, including the most solitary ones (CPO, computer coder) can benefit from having the right exposure and reputation. For instance, the VP of R&D at the company I work for is a women (pretty rare),and we’ve used this to get some press coverage. She didn’t like the spotlights at first, but when she received an invitation to participate in a professional panel discussion as part of an all paid, prestigious event she began to like the idea more. She now actively pushes me to get her more in front of the media, and I’m sure this exposure and added reputation will assist her in the years to come.

So how do you make yourself well known and respected, outside your closed network?

the principles are roughly the same as branding yourself within your organization. You must first develop a network, spread the message of how awesome you are and maintain it. Building a network nowadays is easier than ever- use whatever channels that are respected within your professional community- LinkedIn, industry forums, Quora etc. you need to build a large network of networks (meaning you should be connected to people who are well connected, like journalists, bloggers, social-media addicts etc.). most of these people will happily connect with you regardless of them actually knowing you in person (remember, they benefit as well from extending their network).

Than, start establishing yourself as an authority in your field. Participate in discussions, answer relevant questions on Quora, post interesting news stories. If you have a chance, blog about your thoughts (you don’t need to have a blog to do so, you can doing easily on both Quora and Medium).

Ask many questions but answer more. Be helpful- if you don’t know and answer or can’t help, find someone who does (I’ve been asked a very technical question regarding IT security. I’ve asked around the office and reverted with a superb answer)- it will be much appreciated.

Do this constantly, and your reputation will be built by itself. Do try to avoid conflict, both personal and professional. You want to be perceived as a solid, helpful chap, not a war monger.

Now the hard part begins- you need to be consistent and diligent. Keep publishing, contributing and assisting others. It will take some time but in the end it’ll pay off- you will build a community of followers, people who cherish your work and will likely to recommend it to other. And that’s when the real magic happens- when word of mouth (or, nowadays, word of the web) will start to spread about you. By that time, don’t be surprised if head hunters contact you regarding open positions, journalists want to interview you and people you’ve never met want to follow you and hear what you have to say. It is up to you how to leverage this. But remember, all this hard work can be blown away if you are careless, so be kind, use your reputation and reach to help others (for instance, help people find jobs) and enjoy the fact you have earned this reputation rightfully.