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: 928

Comment by Eric Osterman on December 3, 2009 at 5:46pm
Bill,

Great post we just had this conversation in our office about this same topic. Our primary thought was if you want to connect so badly then just send an invite not a thesis statement. Great post.
Comment by Ambrish Kochikar on December 4, 2009 at 12:30am
well stated. this is the professional equivalent of hooting your car horn when you drive by a pretty sight. it reflects nothing except the lack of your ability to make a meaningful connection.
Comment by Brian Keith on December 4, 2009 at 9:02am
I'm with Simon. Delete, delete, delete! Thanks for the post Bill.
Comment by Mark A. Leon on December 4, 2009 at 9:26am
Bill, You have put a direct stance on a common occurance we all go through on a regular basis. With the new emphasis on having connections or networks to get your foot in the door, more and more people will try to build up a large community to increase the odds. It was a very refreshing opinion on your behalf.
Comment by Bill Ward on December 4, 2009 at 2:38pm
Thanks for reading everyone. I appreciate the comments as well!

Ambrish...Great analogy!

Simon...Maybe "frustrated" would be more appropriate. As you mention, you simply delete posts like that. My point exactly. Why not go about an introduction a better way and build that professional relationship?

Brian...When it doubt, delete. got it!

Mark...Thanks for reading! Connections for connection sake does not make much sense.

Karen... the Recruiters Lounge co-host read my post. Very cool. Thanks for the compliment.
Comment by Todd Noebel on December 4, 2009 at 3:44pm
I immediately dump these kinds of requests - If they are so interested in connecting, send me a real invite, don't ask me to send the request BACK to you for cryin' out loud.

Strikes me that he was most likely fishing to get to your contacts, whether he has any ineterest in you or not. You want to access my contacts, show me that you're connection worthy. I'm happy to make professional introductions, with the proviso that by doing so I don't jeopardize my OWN connection to someone.
Comment by Brad Zirulnik on December 4, 2009 at 3:46pm
you guys are missing one final point: he's asking you to add him? huh? The message you pasted above does not even sound like an invitation? It sounds like he's asking you to do the work of inviting him. Am I missing something?
Comment by Jason Libes on December 4, 2009 at 3:49pm
Bill,

I also get occasional emails like that. Not only do I feel the same, that email makes it seem like you have never invited someone to join your network. When he says "If by chance, LinkedIn asks you for my email when adding me to your contacts, please use: myemail@abc.com" he knows before he even types that that they will ask for his email address.

With LinkedIn's new emphasis on limiting the number of invitations one can send, why should I use one of my precious invites when you are the one that wants to connect with me?

I find that approach very ignorant and always delete those emails.
Comment by BolandGroup on December 4, 2009 at 3:55pm
As a search firm owner, I share Bill's frustration with the poor manners implied by the skeletal linkedin connection request he describes. However, I receive AT LEAST one of these "random" requests EACH day from prospective candidates. Same thing, nothing to indicate that there has been any effort to correlate the potential of their experience to the types of searches we conduct. However, I tend to give everyone who contacts me on Linkedin the benefit of the doubt.
Comment by Andy Wileman on December 4, 2009 at 3:56pm
I totally agree with your post. Can we connect?

I'm kidding, but I believe a few recruiters/sourcers (and I embarrassed to say myself included) use LI as their ad hoc candidate database, so they are driven to get their numbers up to see more potential candidates from the mass pool. But this is somewhat of a different discussion than having an active network that feeds your needs, such as providing referrals or advice on where to get a good meal in Philadelphia. Others are just seeking to use you for your database of names because LI is such a great tool start your searching from.

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