A Linkedin mistake none of us should allow ourselves to make.

Yesterday I received the following Linkedin message from the President of an executive search firm based on the East Coast:

"Bill:

I saw your profile on LinkedIn and wanted to be connected with you on LinkedIn.

Please add my profile to your LinkedIn contacts.

My profile is: www.linkedin.com

If by chance, LinkedIn asks you for my email when adding me to your contacts, please use: myemail@abc.com

Thanks again. I look forward to your feedback."

Best Regards,

George M

Although I still get these occasional messages from random people not associated with recruiting, this one ticked me off frankly. Not that there was anything malicious about the message itself, but because it came from someone who should know better when it comes to establishing professional relationships with peers, clients and candidates.

First of all, I appreciate it when there is a GENUINE interest in connecting with me. I believe in paying it forward at all times. Unfortunately, the way this individual decided to go about trying to establish a professional relationship made me decide not to connect. It's rather unfortunate that with all of the great insights out there regarding how to successfully go about social networking and networking in general, that this supposed experienced search professional and president of a firm is still in the dark.

So what's wrong with this correspondence? First of all, there's nothing that leads me to believe this guy actually looked through my profile. "I saw your profile and wanted to connect." "So what?" is my first inclination. Why does he think it would make sense for us to connect? Look at this as if I were a candidate.."what's in it for me?" I've connected with some great thought leaders and peers in our industry via Linkedin and in every case that I initiated the contact, I had either followed their blog for some time or read an article that made me want to get to know that person. In my note to them, I conveyed what motivated me to contact them and why I felt connecting via Linkedin would be another great way to stay in contact. In every case, I recieved a personal reply that showed that they in fact had looked at my profile in depth and wanted to learn more about me and my experience to see where we could help each other in the future. That's paying it forward and it's a great start to a professional relationship.

Second, the tone of the message makes this guy come across as a command and control type. Even though he says please, in essence, it comes across as though he is telling me to add him to my list of contacts. Again, if I were a candidate (especially GEN Y), I would say to myself "who the heck are you trying to tell me what to do pal? I don't even know you! Get a life!" Have you ever heard the old saying "when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me?" Well George M assumed.

When you make a professional introduction, you need to realize that the person you are soliciting is actually doing you a favor by considering your proposal. They're busy just like you. You need to convey your value proposition in order for them to justify the personal investment of time required to take the process to the next level (a phone call or face to face meeting). Not only does George not take this into consideration, but he assumes (double helping of ass'ism) I will actually want to make the effort invite him to be a part of my network and provides me his email address to get around the fact he's too lazy or stupid to figure out mine (probably a healthy dose of both..oops, now I'm assuming).

The random shotgun approach utilized by so many recruiters including this search firm owner only confirms the fact that so many of us still have a lot to learn or revisit in regards to the basics. If you're only motivation for connecting is to add another connect, do yourself and the people you solicit a favor and don't waste your time. If you can demonstrate where there is some true mutual benefit by getting to know one another, you may have fewer connections, but a much healthier network of contacts that will pay dividends down the road.

Let me know what you think!!!

Best,

Bill Ward

Views: 932

Comment by Mary Fairchild, SPHR on December 4, 2009 at 3:57pm
If these requests actually come to you as invites, instead of just deleting (or archiving as is the world of LinkedIn), hit the "I dont know this user" button. This is LinkedIn's way of controlling spam. If enough folks hit the "IDKTU" button, then the account will be flagged and flashed yellow each time they log in. If they continue to spam and more folks hit the "IDKTU" button, then I understand LinkedIn will close the account. I know folks who've had their account flagged but not closed.

I use LinkedIn alot to source candidates but I'm careful to be relevant and polite when sending messages. Happy Friday everyone!
Comment by Bill Ward on December 4, 2009 at 4:02pm
Todd..I could not agree with you more. I do the same thing. thnaks for taking the time to read my thoughts and comment.

Brad... You're spot on. He did in fact in a veiled way ask me to invite him. I'm not trying make this a personal attack..just pointing out the fact that this kind of thing is what prevents you from connecting with some great people, whether they're a recruiter, potential client or candidate.

Thanks for reading and responding!

Jason...Ignorance is bliss for some I guess. Thanks for taking the time to read and post your comments!
Comment by Greg Inguagiato on December 4, 2009 at 4:04pm
This is where the delete button comes into play. What an ineffective way to approach networking.
Comment by Sarah Salukas on December 4, 2009 at 4:04pm
Bill - Great post. I just caught this now and it was very refreshing read for the end of my week.

I think I am with the majority on this one. I pretty much always delete these messages. They are almost as bad as the invites from people who use the generic Linkedin prefab invite without so much as even signing off with their name. But, speaking to Jason’s point, at least those people use their own invites.

PS- Ambrish, your comment made me laugh out loud
Comment by Bill Ward on December 4, 2009 at 4:21pm
Greg...The delete key seems to be the most utilized keystroke on a recruiters these days! Oh the humanity!! I agree with you..highly ineffective. New to recruiting and networking..understandable, but for an experienced recruiter to go about it this way is just bad business. Thanks for reading and posting!

Sarah..thanks a lot for the kind words. The positive feedback and support from this community has been great. Props to you for bringing up the prefab/generic Linkedin invite. Get plenty of those as well. Thanks for the read and post!
Comment by Lory LeBlanc on December 4, 2009 at 4:25pm
I received one similar to this the other day - but when I went to check out their profile it had been turned off by Linkedin - stating that there had been strange activity by that person....I agree..delete...delete...delete.
Comment by Scott Belew on December 4, 2009 at 4:32pm
Brad - You are not missing anything at all. This guy is wanting the recipient to do all of the work and that reflects in Bill's assessment that this guy is definitely the command and control type. It is people like this that give genuine, serious, professional recruiters a bad name.
Comment by Bill Ward on December 4, 2009 at 6:15pm
Mary...I used that feature early on, but I found that unless it was truly spam, it seemed to me like overkill. Relevant and polite sounds like a winning combination. Thanks for reading and posting!

Lory...This guy in fact has an account and a website (for what that is worth). Delete...who would have guessed! Thanks for reading and posting!

Scott...I am glad to see my command and control opinion was not considered to be out in left field! It's good to hear from so many recruiters that get it in terms of best practices. Thanks for reading and posting!
Comment by Catherine Nelson on December 4, 2009 at 6:34pm
I would be able to retire if I received a dollar for every email I received like the one above. I am not sure why someone would think I should place the effort into inviting them to connect to me. I try to be courteous and even did reply to a few of these and then found out that I was on their spam list for what ever they are trying to sell me. I guess you could of called me "sucker".
Comment by Karla Porter on December 6, 2009 at 11:53am
I really consider these types of messages spam and just delete them. Even with the limitations LinkedIn imposes, if a person really wants to connect with you they'll do it through the introduction networking channels provided by LinkedIn. I just showed a new HR Intern the other day how to do this... there are videos too. Perhaps a tongue in cheek response would be to send back a link to a tutorial..

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