When a Random LinkedIn Connection Put my Life in Danger

February 4th, 2013.

My brother and I received the opportunity of a lifetime – our personal story was broadcast to millions of individuals around the world via the Ellen Degeneres Show.

dai and julian ellen

This was not only a blessing for me and my career but to my family at large. To give you some context, we were struggling somewhat with financial issues as my father was no longer able to work due to the discovery of a brain tumor.

I am pleased to say this was successfully operated on and the gift from Ellen ($25,000) + the money we received from various endorsements/appearances made a substantial impact to the bills.

famous briefcase

I’m not sure how many of you have had a brush with fame, but it certainly puts most of us in a tail spin. I spent my whole life wishing for such a moment – yet amongst the amazing perks; life in the spotlight can be extremely taxing and even dangerous.

Within 48 hours of the show going live I had over 10,000 Facebook friend requests, thousands of messages and over 850 LinkedIn adds.

Being in my early 20s at the time, I thought it was a fantastic idea to have lots of new friends to like and share in my adventures. Admittedly – the experience brought me together with some amazing people who shared similar stories and provided me with a platform to spread awareness about issues like cancer which I am very grateful for.

On the other hand – I interacted with several people who were simply at the bottom end of the spectrum in terms of integrity.

Individuals would send me adverse messages concerning my sexuality, whether or not my father was faking his illness and even took matters further in relation to my relationship with my brother which I find too sick to elaborate on. All of this after being aired on a family rated television show with a beautiful message to share with the world.

One individual was particularly relentless. Despite me blocking them on Twitter, Facebook and a number of other platforms I forgot about the hundreds of people I had accepted on Linkedin. I would be extremely puzzled when this person would use a number of different emails to share with me intricate details about where I worked, the meetings I attended and even shared details with me about coming to visit me at my home- knowing the rough location I lived. Obviously they were using my Linkedin to gather data as to my whereabouts without my knowledge.

At the end of the year, I was doing some Christmas shopping and received a frightening message via Twitter that this individual was at my local shopping center and was motioning me to meet.

To be honest – I am not a small man but I felt completely scared and helpless as a result of this cyber bullying – which had escalated from random online trolling to potentially a physical encounter.

This story is only something I have shared with my closest friends and as it happened a few years ago has been an event I have tried to forget. Considering I got away without ever meeting the person I thought it would be easier to let it go – only hearing reports from local shopkeepers as to his appearance- I audited my contacts diligently, never hearing from him again.

Many of people ask for me advice in building their Linkedin network – and over the last year I have been extremely cautious of the people I have invited to be part of my ‘business’ network – a platform for me which has become increasingly personal as I find Facebook is offering more of a distraction than value to my career.

My advice is to be extremely careful and to carefully friend and accept people who only show a genuine interest in your company. Phishing profiles are on the rise and often I hear reports of people finding their identity has been hijacked with malicious third parties copying their profile data and re-adding people through their network – claiming they wanted to ‘start a fresh profile.’

Furthermore – I find having mutual connections extremely important in vetting this intent.

In business terms – having a diluted Linkedin network can also adversely affect how your posts rank in the Linkedin feed. I admittedly lost awareness of the importance of security in my last role – reaching out to many individuals I had not previously met for the purposes of business development. Due to this – my posts are often penalized as the Linkedin algorithm often prioritizes posts for virality based on the proportion of likes to fans within the initial few hours of the post going live.

To conclude – please be careful of how you utilize your social network in an age where cyber bullying is one the rise and data is freely available – making you more of a target for threatening activities.

About The Author

Dailius Wilson

Dailius Wilson is the 24 year old founder of WolfofYorkStreet.com – helping the world's top SaaS companies to optimise their sales and marketing efforts. Dailius is currently a Director at TrustRadius and a digital blogger at increasemyonlinebusiness.com. Dailius was named as one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs in Australia for 2015 by Anthill Online and was ranked in the Top 100 SEO Experts in the World. Dailius has also been a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show and has over 10,000,000 views on Youtube