Do not be a LinkedIn tart!

I am no LinkedIn expert. But I do use it. I post status updates, I join groups, I comment in discussions, and I check backgrounds of just about every person I am about to interview or even meet.

I also get a lot of requests to connect, and as a result have over 4,000 connections currently, so I suppose I could be described as an ‘active LinkedIn’er’.

Active enough to realise there are a few things LinkedIn users simply should never do!

Firstly, let’s get away from chasing numbers when it comes to connections. Target your niche for goodness sake. I seldom send connection requests, but when I do, I know the person. I will have met, or dealt with that individual. I will certainly be sure that person is in a related field, and that there is potential for our business objectives to overlap.

And I do not accept all requests to connect. It’s tempting, I know. We all love to feel loved. But when I get a request to connect from a Library Assistant at a University in South America, I mean seriously, why would I?  And by the way, no disrespect to that individual. He may be a great guy with great skills, but is there really any likelihood that we can add much value to each other from a professional point of view? And that’s what LinkedIn is for, after all.

Secondly, don’t spam your connections with marketing material, requests to read your blog or any other self-serving communication. I delete people who are using their LinkedIn list purely to sell aggressively. That’s not what it’s for.

Thirdly, please don’t ask me for a recommendation if you hardly know me and must realise I hardly remember you. In fact, frankly, don’t ask for recommendations at all. Don’t you think soliciting people to say nice things about you is just a little bit tarty?

In fact, on that topic, the whole concept of LinkedIn recommendations is flawed, open to flagrant abuse, and borders on self-love. Who is going to publish an unflattering recommendation? Indeed, who is going to write one? I have seen LinkedIn recommendations from managers, when I know that manager has fired the ‘recommendee’! What a load of old cobblers! I have written the odd recommendation myself – but only when I really know and value the person’s work, and even then I do it partly out of a desire to please. I increasingly do not answer recommendation requests, particularly where the person is not well known to me.

And let’s round off this little rant with one more pet peeve. Don’t be a tart with your updates. We all know there is software that allows you to multi-list your updates, using TweetDeck for example. So, you tweet some banal observation about what someone in the office is wearing, but you copy that tweet to your LinkedIn status too? I mean seriously, do you think we want to see your LinkedIn status updated every 10 minutes with your inane tweets?  Do you think that’s what LinkedIn is designed for? That kind of update is bad enough on Twitter, but on LinkedIn, it’s just so much dross.

Finally, specifically for those using LinkedIn for recruitment. It’s a great resource. Please do not abuse it, or the people on LinkedIn, by blanket ‘headhunting’ approaches. Don’t be the LinkedIn equivalent of the guy in the pub desperately trying to hook up with everyone… anyone! Be a little subtle. Do some research on your target. Find a plausible reason to engage, interact, and then ease into job opportunities.

LinkedIn will work best for you if you:

- target the right audience
- use a professional tone at all times
- share great content and
- display your expertise in your field

Only after you have done all that, can you afford to “sell” yourself, and even then, just a little.

More reading 

13 things that really annoy people on LinkedIn
Are you a LinkedIn liar?
Personal Branding on LinkedIn: 10 mistakes to avoid

 

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(11) Readers Comments

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  3. Being spammed with marketing materials is one of my pet peeves too. But worst of all has to be the people who attempt to use LinkedIn as a dating site.
    Creeps!

  4. Hi Greg

    It seems that I have been besieged by LinkedIn tarts and leeches recently. All this has done is to lessen the credibility and value of LinkedIn.

    At a marketing networking function late last year the thorny issue of LinkedIn was a hot topic of discussion. The conclusions drawn from the discussion were insightful if not just simply logical:

    * There are a plethora of people simply building the number of connections to give the impression that they are well connected. The reality is that most people have never met most of their connections and do not engage with them on any level

    * The majority of people on LinkedIn are employed and it really annoys them when those seeking employment use LinkedIn as a supposed bridge for opportunities. There is a degree of awkwardness when approached in these situations as in the current economic climate it is often a
    of a horrible reminder of the situation in which they could easily find themselves in the near future. These approaches make people feel really uncomfortable. If you don’t really know them, or have had a business relationship with them, simply leave them alone and stop stalking them.

    * Finally it gave reason for everyone to question the number, quality and integrity of their current connections. I threw a net over my 300+ connections and carried out a tough culling process.
    I now have around 90 connections; all of whom I have met, actually done business with, respect their opinion and trust, value and respect their input.

    Now that sounds like a tough cull for someone who is currently a senior marketing communications person actively looking for work. Some may view it as lessening my opportunities in a tough market where senior roles are as rare as hens teeth. Others in exactly the same position have done the same thing.

    It is simply a matter of paying people respect in a communications channel where real business relationships are far better than ones with tarts.

    Do yourself a favour. Over the next few weeks, actually pick up the phone and talk to some of your Connections about the issues and opportunities you are facing in business or even not being part of a business. If you can not find it within yourself to take the opportunity to talk or (I know this sounds daring!) actually meet with a Connection, then it is well and truly time to reach for the delete button as you are not genuinely Connected at all.

    You have allowed yourself to become a tart!

  5. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Greg, for this post. I have been saying this for years now (the part about connections being more than numbers). It’s driving me crazy and my latest example just proves people either just don’t get it or just do not care.

    A few days ago I decided I was going to connect to Daymond John of Shark Tank (and of course the world famous clothing designer). I want to interview him for a blog post. I was thrilled that one of my connections was connected to him and so I kindly asked her for an introduction. I didn’t feel uncomfortable – only a week before she’d asked me to vote for her to win some kind of award for a book she’s written.

    The next morning I opened my email and she said she didn’t even know who he was AND therefore couldn’t make an introduction. THEREIN LIES THE PROBLEM, PEOPLE.

    The point of LinkedIn is not just to boost numbers but to have an actual NETWORK. I am sincerely proud of my tiny network. Because I only send and accept invitations from those I think I might collaborate with. Even further, I clean up my connections every now and then – we can always reconnect if necessary. I’ve actually spoken to or had lengthy email exchanges with every single individual in my network on LinkedIn and so if someone needs a connection, I can make a real introduction and at the very least, feel confident I am making a valuable connection for both parties. What they do after that is not my concern.

    I immediately removed our LinkedIn connection. She can always email me; we can even have lunch or coffee sometime. But she provides no value to my LinkedIn network and therefore should not be taking up that space.

    You can read the article I wrote about this back in 2009 and it’s still relevant today. At the time I wrote this I was using Blogger but at one point I had 88 comments before I moved over to WordPress. That demonstrates how passionate people are about the subject. Rethinking LinkedIn – It’s a Tool; Not a Toy http://nixonvs.com/rethinking-linkedin-its-a-tool-not-a-toy/

    One woman’s post on Twitter tonight bragged about reaching almost 35,000 connections and has a link in the tweet so that you can connect right there on the spot. WHY? Where’s the value? I think maybe these people are just building mailing lists – that’s the only real value I see for such a large network.

    I won’t paste the tweet but you can search “Only 28 more spots till I reach 35,000 connections on #LinkedIn” and find it yourself.

    Cordially,
    Patricia Nixon
    Nixon Virtual Strategies
    http://www.nixonvs.com

    The Power of Delegation
    recognized by Forbes

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  7. Hi, thanks for an informative insight.

    I slighty tend to disagree on your comment on the recommendations. Too many people are confusing these with actual references, which they are not. I use my recomendations as I want other people to capture my softskills, personality and how I work with them as a colleague. It’s not all about hard skills ;))

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  11. This write-up is ….WOw! a lot of people really need to read this. Theres something so annoying about linking your twitter to your linkedIn because there are two different platforms.
    A lot of people are actually missing the whole point of LinkedIn because they are more interested in having high number of connections instead of utilising the connections they need

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