Specifically What NOT To Do On LinkedIn

linkedinThis morning, I received an inmail on LinkedIn from a new contact.  I'll only share the beginning because it just gets worse, and you'll get the drift after this first sentence.

“Staring at your lovely eyes for the past five minutes has been one of the most wonderful encounters I have had in quite a while.”

LinkedIn is a professional networking site, not a dating site. Shame on me because I accepted this person's connection request without doing more homework.  I got busy and didn't follow my own rules.  In my haste, I saw he had a photo with his profile and a real job title, so I thought I'd go ahead and accept the connection request.  But this experience gives me the opportunity to share about another what-not-to-do on LinkedIn: stop using LinkedIn to network.

Within the very definition of networking lies the reason career-minded professionals shouldn’t do it. 

The Webster definition of networking is ‘exchanging information with people who can help you professionally.'  What’s wrong with the picture is the sole focus on YOU.  Put it into perspective; have you ever spent time with someone who incessantly talked about themselves?  How much time had to pass before you came up with a reason to excuse yourself? That uncomfortable, slightly annoyed, ‘can’t-wait-to-tell-my-colleagues-about-this-guy feeling' is precisely why you should netweave, not network, your way to small business success.

Netweave your way to success.

Netweaving is a relationship-building approach to networking.  It's a frame of mind and it fits well within today’s socially-focused professional environments.  Social networks focus on building relationships, and this too is the basis of netweaving.  It begins with holding a deeper consideration for people you meet, and then using the knowledge you gain to find ways you can help them.  By establishing mutually-beneficial relationships with our contacts, we are positioning ourselves as a trusted, reliable resource, which is the basis to any successful friendship.

Netweaving requires us to exercise the most important skill in effective communicating: really listening to our audience.   In the post LinkedIn but Disconnected, I covered a netweaving example. I shared how when I receive a connection request, I review the person’s profile and try to learn a little more about them.  I think about my network and look for common interests or industries among my contacts.  I consider ways I can build a professional relationship with this new contact.  I always send a thank you message and offer to help using my network and professional experience.  (I highly recommend this approach to you.)  However, what I am seeing most often is the request to link and then a quick shift to disconnecting, meaning they link with me and then I never hear from them or even receive a reply to my thank you note. I call this “LinkedIn but disconnected” and this my friends is bad for business.

As you grow your network, remember you don’t know everything there is to know about your contacts. You don’t know ‘who they know’ or ‘what they know’.  To get started in the right direction, try spending at least five minutes a day reaching out to three network contacts.  Ask them how their business is going or what’s new? Look for ways you can help them. Even better, if you see a post or update about a contact, or from a contact, engage with them, make a comment or send a message.

Here's a tool to help. I use a site called Newsle, to keep tabs on my contacts. When someone I'm linked with makes the news, I receive an email. It provides me with the perfect opportunity to connect with the contact.

So what’s in it for you?

Aside from becoming a more thoughtful contact and an active listener, when the opportunity arises to engage your contacts in something you need, it will be well received. The larger your social communities become, the more netweaving opportunities will arise.   It’s quick and easy to put people in touch with each other.

Now it's your turn, share your best (or worst) LinkedIn experience with me in the comments.

Jo Lynn Deal is an integrated marketing communications strategist and founder of myMarketing Cafe.  She has been featured in Social Media Today, PR News, Project Eve, The Business Journal, and The Examiner. Connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.

A version of this post first appeared on www.mymarketingcafe.com.

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. I just contacted LinkedIn yesterday because I received an email similar to yours. I cannot believe that there are lurkers on LinkedIn. It is a professional site. I was disgusted by the entire thing and somewhat disillusioned. Imagine my surprise when I opened my emails this am and found your post. Too coincidental. lol Donna

  2. I also just got one of these, not quite that blatant. I took a screen shot and reported them to LinkedIn. I do appreciate the different view of netweaving vs networking. Thank you.

  3. Donna, I wonder if it’s something going around. I have never had the experience before but I’m thinking it may happen the larger my network becomes. It’s just disturbing and so disappointing.

    Paula, I’m glad you reported yours. I never thought to do that but it’s a great idea.

  4. Yes, i have received many such an email but have become very wary and delete immediately if I see that type of message coming in.

    No this week, I had a really horrible experience that will leave me with a nasty taste in my mouth for a while. I was wondering if others had seen the same?

    I provide some free trainings on my website for anyone to use. To help one of them to gain traction I posted about it on LinkedIn, using an image. On that image, I had placed the 4 most prominent writers on the topic and named them – unfortunately, while doing so, I did actually mix up two of the men’s names. My mistake. It was wrong. But a pure oversight on my behalf. Unwittingly, I happily posted.

    Within an hour I was ordered to “Take it down immediately!!! There are MAJOR errors here!!!!”

    As I hadn’t a clue what the problem was – I did not know if my training contained these MAJOR errors and whether I should remove all my hard work simply after an order like that? I checked and found nothing.
    I genuinely did not see what was wrong that caused such an aggressive approach. So I asked. It never dawned on me that this concerned my interchanging the names.

    There followed an absolute onslaught. With each comment, some issue was added to the thread and I was then accused of raising that issue ( Ironically, the two men who I had mixed around were reported to be arch enemies and I was accused of deliberately interchanging the names to highlight this competitive relationship…) and so on….and on….and on…..

    Finally after 24 hours, I deleted the whole thread and corrected the two names on the image. But it was horrific how out of control it had started to get, and all because of one very narcissist character who believes he has the right to publicly discredit others like that.

    I must admit. I am still very shocked at what happened.
    Has anyone else ever experienced similar and what did they do to protect themselves? I feel my good reputation has been damaged now. Is that going to be part and parcel of “putting yourself out there in the social media”?