Our client Emily told us about a LinkedIn invitation she received last month.
Emily received the connection invitation from a Business Analyst, who included a personal note to Emily in the invitation.
“I don’t know this woman at all,” Emily told us. “She is connected to a couple of people I know.”
Here’s what the note inside Emily’s connection invitation said:
Emily, you and I know several people in common. Once you accept my LinkedIn invitation, you can endorse me for my Skills. I will send you a reminder tomorrow if you forget today.
A lot of people are unclear on the concept of networking. They charge into networking situations like a bull in a china shop, without worrying about niceties like getting to know people before making demands of them.
Emily’s Business Analyst committed one of the ten deadly sins of LinkedIn networking — asking favors of people you don’t know.
Emily ignored the request and the invitation.
A few days later when she talked to a colleague who is also connected to Miss Pushy, she heard that the poor Business Analyst seemed to see LinkedIn strictly as a place to accumulate endorsements for her Skills.
She missed the real power of the world’s largest business networking site, which is the power to make and reinforce human connections. She missed the forest by fixating on a one-inch-square patch of tree bark!
Telling strangers what they need to do for you is one of the ten deadly sins of LinkedIn networking. Here are the other nine:
- Sending spam marketing notices to other LinkedIn users.
- Subscribing LinkedIn contacts to company newsletters without permission.
- Using LinkedIn connections’ contacts to build their networks without asking for introductions. As Emily told us, there is nothing like reading a note that says “Jane Smith says we should meet right away” and then checking in with Jane, who says “I never said any such thing!”
- Writing to unsuspecting strangers to ask for helping getting a job in their company or an introduction to someone who could purchase their services.
- Sending LinkedIn connection invitations to the whole world without creating a robust LinkedIn profile or uploading a profile photo.
- Stealing text from another LinkedIn user’s profile and using it on their own profile
- Violating the LinkedIn User Agreement by displaying their phone number or email address in a LinkedIn headline or title field
- Using fake information in a LinkedIn profile — companies that a user didn’t really work for, e.g., and
- Generally using the living, breathing LinkedIn member community as a means to an end, without any regard for their feelings or their trusted-colleague relationships.
The first rule of networking is to focus on the relationship, not the transaction at hand. Good salespeople know that someone who doesn’t buy their products today may be responsible for a huge new client relationship in six months — or just a kind word next week, at a moment when we really need a kind word.
Relationships are not things to be shuffled and traded like Pokemon cards.
People who take their relationships seriously don’t want their contacts to be spammed and annoyed, and can we blame them? Make sure that you are not a bull-in-a-china-shop LinkedIn networker.
Life is long, and relationships are forever. LinkedIn is a networking tool of enormous power, but to use the tool wisely you have to remember that there would be no LinkedIn without living, breathing people to populate it. Treat them like gold, and good things will happen!