October 21, 2014

Hey Folks, Guess What? LinkedIn Is Not a Dating Site!

linkedin is not a dating site

LinkedIn is an incredibly valuable business connection and resource site. When used properly, LinkedIn can help you expand your reach, increase your credibility, and grow your business.

But lately, I’ve experienced a lot of people using it incorrectly. Because I do a lot of writing and public speaking, I tend to accept LinkedIn connection requests from many people I don’t know. It’s a decision I made consciously.

In the past, the majority of the people who sent me requests were people who genuinely wanted to connect professionally and build a relationship. Or they wanted to be able to follow what I was writing and find out where I’d be speaking in the future.

Lately however, people have chosen to use LinkedIn to solicit, and even worse, to try to create personal relationships.

In one week, every connection request I accepted was immediately followed by an email telling me about the person’s product or service and why I should want to purchase it from them. Beside the fact that I didn’t even really know them yet, they didn’t know me. They didn’t know my company or my needs. They assumed because of my title and my company, that I must need what they were offering.

This, in my opinion, is one of the worst sales techniques in the world.

linkedin is not a dating site

The other day I was contacted by someone who I share a connection with. So, you’d assume that 1 degree of separation would be a good thing and there would be a conceivable reason for us to connect. I accepted the request and then received this:

“I want to thank you for connecting with me on LinkedIn and I am glad you did because I will like to get to know you more and share lovely ideas with you both business and other things. I must tell you that you are so beautiful and nice and I will love to know you more, so please feel free and tell me more about yourself? Thank you and hoping to hear from you soon.”

Okay, the first thing is – I’m not sure what this person is actually wanting. There could be a language gap. So I asked and then received this response:

“I have gone through your profile and found out that you are dealing with Project, I am contractor engineer in mining and pipelines and I can invest in any good business that can bring good money, I am not giving you a compliment about you being beautiful, think I am telling you the fact about your looks, can I ask you. . .hahaha, are you married? Can we be friends? I know it will sound like a bombshell to you now lol. . .but I am serious about it. Can you share a little about yourself and also give me your private email address for more communication with you?”

Seriously? LinkedIn is not a dating site!

linkedin is not a dating site

When people use LinkedIn incorrectly it does two things:

  • It diminishes the value of the platform. If too much soliciting and inappropriate communication persists, good people will disengage from the site. This will lead to the site becoming less and less valuable for business development – and that would be a shame.
  • The people who are behaving badly are really hurting their businesses. When you interact, whether in person or online, you are acting as a representative of your company. Therefore, the decisions you make can result in growth or destruction.

It’s my opinion that you don’t want to become the person others avoid or warn others about. If you want to maximize your LinkedIn experience, consider doing the following:

Reach out to people you know for connections. If you want to connect with someone you don’t know, tell them why – and make sure it’s a business reason:

  • Seek to learn about companies: Their goals, needs and challenges (instead of seeking to sell them something).
  • Connect people to solutions: Even when it’s not something you sell.

If you approach your LinkedIn experience with these ideas in mind, you’ll find it to be a very valuable resource for your business.

Disengaged Photo via Shutterstock, Frustrated Photo via Shutterstock, Surprised Photo via Shutterstock

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Diane Helbig


Diane Helbig Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach and the president of Seize This Day Coaching. Diane is a Contributing Editor on COSE Mindspring, a resource website for small business owners, as well as a member of the Top Sales World Experts Panel at Top Sales World.

13 Reactions

  1. I could not even imagine using it as a dating site. LinkedIn is for professionals. It is good for hiring and finding people with the right skills. To use it as a dating site is to beat its purpose. That is better reserved on Facebook.

  2. I have also seen people posting photos in bathing suits as if the was Facebook or Instagram. I think it is unacceptable and goes against the network’s objectives. Cheers. JQ

    • I’ve always seen LinkedIn as a site for business, networking, job opportunities. Bathing suits are great, but it’s not the platform for it.

  3. Diane,

    You are so right. I am a bit Olde Worlde but when I send an invite to a lady I wish to connect with because of her position or company, I always call them Ms. XXX, even if they are many years younger than me. I am 73, but I respect their knowledge, experience and their responsibility. I also send a proper invitation, not the LI standard. When the lady accepts my invitation to collaborate professionally, I send another unique message again addressed to Dear Ms. XXX. Sometimes I even think the ‘Dear’ is bit forward and not quite right. Whether I continue using ‘Dear’ will then depend upon whether the lady uses it back to me. The predominant emotion on LinkedIn has to be respect not desire.

    This is an area where good old etiquette and courtesy must be the guide. But over-riding that is your clear message: LinkedIn is not a dating site!

    I also agree with your objection to the sales pitches. If I get them, I simply use the ultimate weapon of defence: I disconnect from them. I guess that is the weapon of choice for the earlier transgressions.

  4. Diane: I don’t think the person who contacted you cared much for their business reputation, or protecting it, because I feel they weren’t a business at all, unless it’s the business of scamming, that is. Sounds like a scammer to me.

  5. Hello Diane,

    WOW! I had the same thing happen to me last week. I was completely surprised about it since it was LinkedIn. I finally had to tell the creepy guy to not contact me any more, that LinkedIn is a professional network. Yikes…

    Thanks for putting this out in the world! Hopefully people will get the hint and go on a dating site rather than LinkedIn.

    Take care,
    Lillian

  6. Seems a little strange that people would try to use Linked In to hook up with people socially rather than professionally. You only get one picture per profile, but I guess that’s enough to get single people interested!

  7. Chances are this is your every day scammer usually found on Facebook in your Other messages folder that hardly anyone knows is even there.

    This is not likely to be anyone on the platform to enhance their professional reputation rather they are there for other reasons. There are many fake accounts on Linkedin and I have picked up several that show as contacts for a lot of people in my location but unlikely to know them at all. When I have checked with people I know, it is no surprise they don’t know them at all but may have accepted them because they saw a common connection but did not verify that the person was legit.

    Engaging with these people is probably not a good idea and reporting them would be more useful for yourself – and the Linkedin platform as a whole.

    Consider there people are scammed out of millions of dollars each year by strangers one would scarcely imagine anyone would send money to. Yet they do.

  8. All really great comments. Thanks everyone! Glad I’m not alone in this (though sorry it is happening at all).

  9. Great post. Thanks for sharing it.

    I have had that happen to me here and on Facebook. I am always surprised when it happens here because it’s so not the place for it. I usually ignore them or report it as spam, depending on how bad it is.

    I agree with Lindy, it’s highly doubtful they were here for any legitimate purpose anyway.
    Hopefully your post will shed a little light and make people think twice about doing it here.

  10. What a great article and a friend of mine had a similar experience where she was being asked to organise scholarships and products were pushed on her by people who noted her workplace and position. I tend to agree with Graham – LinkedIn is the one place where you should at least pretend to be courteous and not lecherous. Coincidentally, I find myself very (unfairly) suspicious of men because of the number of times inappropriate advances came my way. I think almost half of the requests that I get from men are just ignored – which is ludicrous and unfair. And I am sure for many men out there they are also victims of women who do the same. I do think there are people who use the platform as if it is facebook which is all about posing, external admiration and affirmation from your “friends”. If I get a bad feeling about someone I disengage immediately. But yes it does have the potential to damage a fantastic interface for everyone. Besides its also a safety thing – we put personal information there.

  11. I just searched this topic because it’s been happening to me. Three times in the last month on LinkedIn and it really creeped me out. I did block all 3 people, and reported all 3 incidents. So bizarre. I’m not so sure they are scammers of any sort. They sounded very much like the type of email I HAVE received on dating sites. Maybe those folks were scammer too. Sorry to hear it is happening to others, and good to know I am not alone feeing the creep factor.

    And by the way Diane, I also relate to your reaction about people wanting to sell you things who are being particularly presumptuous about your business. In my case, it takes every thing I can muster to not wasting too much energy responding.

    Then there are those inviters who I think just want to add to their connection count. When I “reply but don’t accept” and ask them why they are reaching out, if they show interest in my business I invite them to join my email list. I’ve converted quite a few that way. I still don’t necessarily accept their invitation.

    Thanks for the post, Diane.

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