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.
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!
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
More in: LinkedIn
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.
I will be closing my LinkedIn site. I was contacted at 4:00 in the morning my time by an American serving in the Middle East. I am in a relationship and do not want to spend my time speaking with men telling them this. And most of the time they don’t care if you’re in a relationship. They keep talking. Gentlemen…try SpeedDate.com..that’s how I found my man.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
All really great comments. Thanks everyone! Glad I’m not alone in this (though sorry it is happening at all).
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.
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.
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.
Thank you publishing this article!!
I am in total agreement. I received two messages yesterday in my inbox. I was disgusted because my page is professional and I genuinely use linked in for networking. Many of my connections have been able to assist me in answering questions that arise in my career, and others are colleagues that I have met along my career who are available for advice and/or to share new opportunities that I may be interested in.
When I received this first message (twice) upon waking up, I was concerned in regards to how much contact information was on my page regarding location.
“How are you doing today? Hope great,Thanks for your accepting my friend request …Anyway, I’m very sorry for invading into your privacy, when i stumbled on your picture. I got entangled in that wonderful smile of yours and couldn’t stop myself from saying hello…I am happy to have you as a friend and i will love you to know me more about you…Take care!! Regards, [Redacted]”
Then I received a second message during the business day…
“Sarah is your mama beautiful as you, because every beautiful lady always got her beauty from the mother, i do love your profile and your pics are cute, also your smile attract peoples attention , How are you doing Sarah? i hope everything fine,and comfortable with your self and people around you?Am [Redacted] bye for now”
It amazes me that there are those out there who would turn a professional site into a direct personal ad or a date site, abusing the purpose of the sites intentions. But then again, I am reminded daily of the world that we live in.
So it continues. I have had two incidents in the last two weeks and yes, it is creepy. I guess blocking is the best deterrent.
me too! One of them even said he knew this wasn’t appropriate but did it anyway. Crazy
This has happened to me so much over the past year that I actually googled it. Turns out Inc., Forbes, and some men’s magazines are pitching using LinkedIn as the new dating site.
It’s happened so often that I actually changed my profile to show that I’m married. Hasn’t changed a bit. I even got a request from the owner of a dating site for women seeking millionaire husbands.
So instead of feeling like I’m being viewed as a professional, I feel like I’m being viewed as potential pimp material. I can’t delete my profile because I run a LinkedIn group, but I’m going to see if I can hide it. Otherwise, I’m going to change my picture to something like a legless wombat and see if that puts people off.
Crystal, do you have links to those articles in inc and forbes? I think it’s time for rebuttals! It really is demeaning and inappropriate. Time to put the ‘boys’ in their place, I think.
Oh my gosh Crystal that’s frightening but I can’t see LinkedIn going that way – could the articles have been garbage gossip? I only accept about a third of LinkedIn requests now because unfortunately I am just so suspicious of most requests lately similar to the way I am with facebook. I don’t think being a leg less wombat (I fell off my seat laughing at that) will help you – trolls like anything with a female name.
I have noticed my boyfriend is on this linkedin but am scared if he’s using it for other things. Do I say something to him or is there a way i can see what he’s doing
Well, it’s not really a job search or networking site either.
Sadly this is not a joke or a scam, it is real and devastating. My estranged husband is a licensed medical professional who has a business which provides public speaking and consulting services. When he joined LinkedIn several years ago I felt it would help to promote his business and encouraged his use of the network. Two years ago I discovered that he was also looking up former girlfriends as well as sending suggestive private messages to anyone else who caught his attention. He intentionally abused a professional social networking site for the purpose of soliciting extramarital affairs and succeeded in doing so at least three times, but attempted to many more.
I deleted my LinkedIn profile as soon as I found out about his hidden agenda because I was so humiliated that I couldn’t stand to be associated with him in that arena. He never admitted anything to me, but I emailed the private messages to myself with his iPad. My divorce lawyer was more than happy to add the copies to our case file!
Based on my experience and knowing how people like that function, I feel that they are using LinkedIn to hide the fact that they’re trying to make “connections” because they are probably married or otherwise committed to a relationship. These are the same kind of people who date coworkers but want to keep it quiet; my guess is, in this situation they ran out of coworkers who were willing to discredit their professional reputations for a fling.
If someone sends you a private message of this nature I would suggest at the very least removing them from your connections and blocking them. If they become aggressive then report it as abuse or spam. If you’re as bold as I am then ask them if they would like for you to send copies of their message(s) to their employer in order to demonstrate how they are representing their company in a professional setting, or maybe their spouse…
In the professional realm, women have made great strides in a short period of time, but unfortunately society hasn’t fully grasped that concept. It’s sad that we still risk being objectified amongst peers, but if we don’t stand up to the mentality it will only continue.
So sorry to hear about this, Brenda. People who abuse LinkedIn should definitely be reported!
Linkedin needs a major overhall. The all or nothing connected status isn’t what we all need. I want a zero to 10 rating system. Best man at my wedding or college roommate for 3 years, your a 10… I know you REALLY WELL. Met you at a cocktail party, you’re a 1, connected w/o ever meeting you are a zero.
I recently needed to connect with someone and was able to see that 30 people were connected to that person. What I could not do was actually find anyone who really knew them.
now that’s an interesting idea! I’m not sure what you mean by the all or nothing connected status. I think people should tell the person why they are wanting to connect. there could be a great reason.
Evidently there are a lot of single female recruiters out there looking for someone to show them the money ! They seem to be young , attractive and like to party ! My husband’s got about 10 on his ! I seriously don’t think they are interested in helping those in the 60 year old range find a position!
ugh! how unfortunate that bad behavior is appearing on both sides of the gender coin.