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As is the case with many social media endeavors, advisors need to take care that they remain compliant with the platforms they use. Unfortunately, one of LinkedIn's key features, endorsements, are a red flag to regulators since they run afoul of prohibitions against testimonials.

The LinkedIn platform makes it simple for users to endorse each other's skills: The large blue box at the head of everyone's profile asks if someone in their network has a particular skill or expertise. But according to FINRA and SEC rules, you can allow people in your LinkedIn network to endorse you only as long as the skills or expertise cited are not related to financial services and an advisor's ability to manage money (although skills such as public speaking are permitted).

If you receive an offer for a red-flag endorsement, you can always decline it right off the bat by choosing the Skip button. There also are other controls on the site that allow you further control of constraining endorsements:

1. Turn endorsement visibility completely off.

■ Click the “Edit” button at the top of your profile.

■ Click the “Edit” link in the Skills & Expertise section.

■ In the upper-right-hand corner, click on the drop-down menu next to the green check mark.

■ Select “No, do not show my endorsements.”

■ Click the “Save” button.

2. Hide endorsements for specific skills.

■ Click the “Edit” button at the top of your profile.

■ Click the “Edit” link in the Skills & Expertise section.

■ Click on the “Manage Endorsements” option above the text box.

■ Select the skill or skills you want to hide.

■ In the box showing all of your endorsements for that skill, un-check the first box that says, “Show all endorsements for this skill.” If all the check marks next to the individual endorsements don't automatically uncheck, go ahead and uncheck each endorsement.

■ Click the “Save” button.

Fortunately, taken in the aggregate, LmkedIn's functions can be a powerful tool to build your brand and business and develop strategic relationships. The key is to optimize it and use it correctly. LinkedIn will do you no good if you have an empty, underutilized profile and all kinds of meaningless connections, but it can be very valuable if your contacts are strategic and genuine.

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