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: 736

Comment by CJ Walker on December 20, 2009 at 11:37am
I'm new to LinkedIn and the question that keeps hitting me in the head is "why all of this shameless self-promotion?" It's seems so content-free to me that most of it is a waste of time. You articulated perfectly what I've been trying to get together since I started on this.
And I especially appreciate that you gave some constructive suggestions about what people SHOULD do. It's only a meaningful tool if the connections we make are meaningful, afterall.
Thanks.
Comment by Carina Pueyo on December 21, 2009 at 5:30am
I am going to keep the link to your post. A direct way to "teach" what to avoid from a serious source. I have received some invitations worse than yours: the standard I'd like you to join my LinkedIn network. For them I wrote a post in my blog to "teach" how to change the standard message.

Thanks for this new resource to learn 2.0 etiquette:)
Comment by Ejiro Enemigin on December 21, 2009 at 11:58am
I wouldn't be surprised if you eventually discover that the e-mail is a modified version of the template provided when sending out invites. It's quite a shame that people are usually in too much of a hurry to add that personal touch or pay attention to that little detail that might get them in the door. I guess we all have our lazy moments, nice post though.
Comment by S Jamila Buckner on January 6, 2010 at 4:21pm
I think the question is, what is in it for him! He wants to see your connections. Beware.
Comment by Doug Boswell on August 23, 2010 at 3:51pm
It probably should be different for us recruiters, but remember that a major philosophy for the general LinkedIn population is to expand your network, period. Granted, the above example shows a pathetic lack of salesmanship, and zero creativity. However, I'll bet it gets him connections more often than not, as most people only see it as an opportunity to grow their network by one, not as an impersonal, stumbling, fumbling ploy.

We recruiters must show a lot more imagination and tap into the ever-present "Law of Self-Interest", which dictates that we must sell our prospect on doing as we ask for reasons which address the prospects own self-interest. Otherwise we will only link with those who just want to mindlessly expand their networks, when what we really want are the A-List candidates.

I always reference something in the prospect's profile, or something they posted in a discussion, and then make my presentation. I try to be direct, but sincere.

In regards to trying to connect to the more passive candidate, or to a possible employer/client, I almost always follow up my compelling (hopefully) presentation, with a very low-key suggestion that we connect. It is usually followed with a phrase like, "If you are comfortable, please send me an invite. You'll find my profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/dougboswell." This works very well for me, and has nothing to do with saving up my limited invites and making the other guy use his/hers.

One more comment on using LinkedIn to recruit. Why do I want my candidates in my network? Actually, I don't. I want them in my candidate database. But sometimes I can't located the candidate based on what is in their profile, or more likely, I have not been able to get them on the phone to recruit them directly. In that case, getting them to accept an invite, or to send me one, is my fallback plan on making contact.

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