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Oops! What NOT to Do While Networking on LinkedIn

Oops! What NOT to Do While Networking on LinkedIn

I am forever grateful to my LinkedIn network and love doing whatever I can to help my connections in their networking efforts.  I enjoy being a piece in the puzzle as they network to find employment, grow their businesses, hire talent, share best practices, ask questions, learn, knowledge share, reconnect with former coworkers, etc.  With a large network, that’s a lot of effort and a big time investment, but it’s all worth it and I love to pay it forward.  What goes around, comes around and my wonderful network has helped me in more ways than I can count.

That said, there are some requests that cross the line, in my opinion, and I think that folks should remember to leverage their network without taking advantage of it.  Here are 10 of the most common LinkedIn networking mistakes that I see:

1.  Can you endorse me?

Lots of us are open networkers, meeting new folks and connecting with them for mutual networking purposes.  I’m here to help you network and will do what I can, but if I’ve never met you and have zero interaction with you yet, please don’t expect me to write a LinkedIn recommendation for you.  I’d like to think that my endorsement means a little bit more than that!

2.  Can you help me find a job?

Sorry folks.  A recruiter is someone who finds candidates to fill jobs, not someone who finds jobs to employ candidates.  This is a very key mistake that many, many people make.  I’m happy to send you my advice for job seekers, but I’m not a professional “job finder”… Those really don’t exist, folks!  :)

3.  Do you know of any job openings that fit my profile?

Rather than coming to me with such an open-ended question, having done zero research on your part and expecting me to do all of the homework, please make some effort and do a little legwork ahead of time.  First off, please read my profile and realize that I work for one company and only recruit for that one company.  I’m not a headhunter or a professional “job finder” (see #2 above).  Secondly, visit our careers page, apply online and then come to me with some specific positions of interest in mind.  I’ll gladly do what I can to put you in touch with the appropriate decision-makers.  Having done some homework on your end will not only speed up the process, it will also put less of a burden on the person you’re asking for help!

4.  Can you please send me John Doe’s email address?

If folks wanted their email address to be public knowledge, they’d put it right on their profile (and many of them do, so please check there first!).  If not, then it’s really not my place to give out their email address to others.  Instead, use the “Introduction Request” feature on LinkedIn.  I’ll gladly pass along the introduction request to them on your behalf and then they can decide if they’d like to follow up with you.

5.  Do you know anyone at Acme Company?

Probably!  In fact, I probably know (or am connected to) dozens of people at that company.  Rather than asking me to stop what I’m doing and run a search of my database to find a list of all possible contacts at a company, please do a little homework and run a search yourself.  You can easily find out the answer and then send an introduction request to me (or perhaps someone else in your network) who can introduce you to the perfect target contact.  After all, only you know the reason why you want to reach out and who the best contact person at that company might be.

6.  I’m interested in a position at Acme Company and would like to apply for position #1234.  Can we set up a time to speak?

Great!  But please note that I have not worked for “Acme” Company in seven years, so an interview with me won’t get you very far… Oops!  Please read my profile carefully before reaching out for help.

7.  Can you please look at my resume and send me your feedback / suggestions?

Holy moly… this one really gets me!  As much as I’d love to help, these requests would take up a full 40-hour workweek (or more!) if I complied with every such request I receive.  Resume writing is a very time-intensive process that requires two-way discussion, extensive editing and re-writing, etc. Professional Resume Writers charge big bucks for their services because it’s no easy task.  This request is something that I simply don’t have the bandwidth to help with, unless we’re married, related by blood or you promise me your firstborn.  ;)

8.  Let’s chat on the phone, grab coffee sometime, meet up for lunch, etc.

Often times, these requests are intentionally vague, asking for time on my busy calendar, yet not disclosing the reason for the meeting.  It would be much more professional and forthcoming of you to disclose the full details up front so that I can decide if it will be a good investment of my time.  And even if the reasons are legitimate, please don’t be offended if I can’t take you up on your offer…  I’m a busy working wife and mother with a jam-packed calendar who is already struggling to get everything done in a day!  :)

9.  Hi Tracy / Hi {FirstName} / Hi trusted friend / Hi James

When reaching out to contacts on LinkedIn, please be sure to get their name right.  “Tracy” is close (but still wrong), {FirstName} is clearly some mass email error, “Trusted Friend” is obviously an impersonal email blast (and immediate delete on my part) and no, I’m not some guy named James!  haha  It’s the quickest way to turn off your recipient… please personalize the note and get their name right!

10.  Love your picture.  Let’s link up and will you friend me on Facebook?

LinkedIn is a professional networking site, not Match.com.  Please refrain from trying to “pick up” your connections or come across as a stalker!  Ew. Immediate trip to my “Remove Connections” page!  :)

What are some of the funniest or most inappropriate requests that you’ve received on LinkedIn?  Please share them below…  I’m sure there are lots of other great examples out there!

San Diego, CA, United States Most Connected Woman on LinkedIn ~ Blogging about Social Media, Networking, Technology, Recruiting, Job Search Tips and Life in Sunny SoCal. Pay it forward!

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40 comments

  1. I get messages like that all the time on Reddit; people message me with their life story and then ask if they’re qualified for a job (they already think they are, they’re just trying to bypass the application process and stand out), or they ask if I have any openings for them. I’m happy to make connections with job seekers and even happier to meet people who may actually be qualified for the sort of jobs I’m sourcing for, and I know job seekers are advised to connect with anyone who can help them. Still, I wish they knew how to approach people in the recruiting industry.

    Worse is on LinkedIn – I get very basic, often poorly worded “hi pls look at my profile thx!” messages in response to a job posting. First of all, that’s not a substitute for an application, second of all, that’s not how you make a good first impression.

  2. You are telling the truth. That had hit home with me as well. People had wanted me to connect with them on Linkedin and never wanted to work on building a professional relationship. I am always getting request from someone to either to endorse them or they want me to join their network marketing business. They don’t even know me at all. The only person I did ask to endorse me on Linkedin is my current client that I had did a wonderful job with them. Great article and I am still learning on how to use Linkedin the correct way. Speaking of facebook, there is a professional site of Facebook call Branchout. This is a professional site like Linkedin.

  3. Davina K. Brewer

    As mentioned, what gets me are the blind, generic LI requests for connections and bogus requests for recommendations just to pad a profile. It’s social yes, but LinkedIn is about business. That means not spamming every group you’re in w/ your latest blog post, not cross-posting EVERY tweet, and certainly not ‘let’s do FB too’ with virtual strangers.

    As for the job hunt, it’s called networking for a reason. But it needs to be done professionally and within reason. Much of these mistakes would be poor etiquette anywhere, not just LI. FWIW.
    Davina K. Brewer recently posted..Captive Audience, meet Wasted Opportunity

  4. I have a template that mentions most of these same mistakes that I e-mail to people in response to a request for a job, a resume rewrite, a job search, etc. Thank you for this post, and I will be e-mailing a link to this site in the future.

  5. I hate when people link their personal twitter feed to Linkedin, so my LinkedIn Feed is littered with details of their night out, or taking the dog for a walk. It’s LinkedIn, not facebook!

  6. How about adding to the list “linking your entire twitter stream?” All of the tweets that come into LinkedIN with hashtags and @replies are out of context and in the wrong venue.

    :)
    Bridget Willard recently posted..Featured Tweeter @SplinterGirl

  7. Great list of LinkedIn faux paus.

    Here are 3 more (that bother me more than the 10 you listed):

    1. Not including a note of introduction with requests for connection to people who have no idea who you are or why you want to connect.

    2. Listing yourself as having worked together when you have not.

    3. Not thanking someone for writing the public recommendation you asked them for.
    Oren Pardes recently posted..Change You Can Believe In?

  8. Funny article and helpful to newbies. We sometimes forget that things that are obvious and logical to some are simply not understood by others. And, sadly, few colleges teach “networking”. Good post.
    Adam L. Stanley recently posted..My 12 Favorite Quotes on Leadership

  9. Don’t forget to add “Don’t use LinkedIn as a personal blog or twitter feed”.
    That’s a fast way for me to want to remove a connection!

  10. Great article Stacy! Very true and I believe everyone needs to read and remember your points. I can’t tell you how many times people contact me asking to help them find a job… and according to my Linked In profile, I haven’t been in the recruitment agency world for 2 years now, but also asking for a job in industries or sectors I’ve never recruited for!

    Keep up the great work,

    Sara

  11. Really appreciated this post, especially from a recruiters perspective, Stacy (not Tracy :) Well written, insightful, and humorous suggestions that are just as applicable to every networking activity as they are to LinkedIn.

    I receive alot of “Since you are a person I trust, I wanted to invite you to join my network on LinkedIn” from people that I have never even met.

    As a Career Management Professional these are the keys that I convey to clients who are often in a rush for someone to offer them a job on a silver platter. I have included a link to this in my email distribution with helpful Tips to clients this week. Thanks for laying it out so well.
    Wayne Pagani recently posted..Getting started: my first blog

  12. Alice Myskowski

    Very, very helpful. Thank you for those helpful suggestions.

  13. Great post. LinkedIn is a professional site, not a social site. This should be a required read for those who want to use LinkedIn properly.

  14. I think the first on your list (Can you endorse me?) is the hardest of these for me to swallow. Although the others are easier to overlook and pass off, it is this one item that makes you personally involved. I recently had an old family friend ask for an endorsement of his work while at his former company. I might have known him personally but I’d never worked with him professionally and could not attest to his skill set. As a result I was left in the un-desirable position of declining to make his endorsement. As easy as it might be to put a few words to a blank screen, I felt doing so only worked to weaken the strength of those recommendations and endorsements I had made, especially since his would only have been “empty words”.
    Brandon Smith recently posted..These Ain’t Your Mother’s Ceiling Fans

  15. Stacy,
    I hear so much on how to do FB and Twitter wrong, that it’s great to see some feedback on LinkedIn.

    I love the requests for endorsements just because we have met once networking. In other words, we have never done business at all….just exchanged cards out networking. Why would I give a testimonial about you after speaking with you for 60 seconds and passing a piece of paper between us?

    Thanks again,
    Angela

  16. Stacy,

    Thank you for this excellent article. Learned a lot about the Don’t Do on LinkedIn. However I do have a question regarding #3. What if the recruiter’s linkedin profile has nothing about current employment opportunities and there is no career section on the company website? Would it be okay then to send them and ask them if there’s any opening for opportunities?
    Cathy Chao recently posted..Never giving up!

    • Hi Cathy,

      Great question. I think you’d be fine to ask if THEIR company has any current openings that might fit your profile (assuming they really don’t have a careers section on the company website… which would be pretty rare these days!). I just wouldn’t ask it in a completely open-ended way, such as “do you know of any openings that might fit might profile?” Most of the requests I get like that are very open-ended, even though they’re only open to very narrow parameters (i.e., a supply chain manager job in Skokie, Illinois)! :) That always gets me since I’ve never lived or worked in the midwest… LOL

      Hope this helps!
      Stacy
      Stacy Donovan Zapar recently posted..How to Easily Unfriend Someone on LinkedIn

  17. Sound advice from someone who knows. I’ve been following Stacey for awhile and respect her opinions.

  18. Hi [Family Name] :)

    Yes, I read the article and I have to say I like it.
    However, I often struggle with english as a foreign language and what is even worse, the right way of addressing people.

    For example in some nations it is feasable to use just the first name. However, as I am from Germany that seems wrong. We always use the family name if we do not know the person.

    But how would I address you on LinkeIn? Dear Ms Zapar? Or is it Dear Miss, Mrs…. ? This really confuses me sometimes and usually I would not know you are married for example.

    Thanks for your refreshing advice, I might have made some mistakes in the past :)

    Regards
    Christoph

    • Hi Christoph,

      No problem at all. I lived abroad for a year back in college and often struggled with some of the cultural differences. I definitely made my share of mistakes along the way, but am happy to know that I learned from each and every one. That’s what really matters at the end of the day, right?

      To answer your question specifically, I think you’re always safe to go with Mr. or Ms. LASTNAME and then see how they respond. If they sign off with their first name, then you know you’re good to go. (And just to be clear, personally, I am FINE with “Dear Stacy.”)

      Hope this helps! Thanks for commenting!
      Stacy
      Stacy Donovan Zapar recently posted..How to Easily Unfriend Someone on LinkedIn

  19. Funny post! I am on linked in, but basically use it as a place to inform my network about my latest business blog post. I have it on my to-do list to learn more about the benefits. Good thing I read this FIRST! I read a similar take on blogging faux pas by Chris Brogan. Now I am lucky to have some great advice from you as well. I am still getting used to the idea when it comes to the world of Social Media…blunders are SO PUBLIC…Thanks for the heads up!

  20. Excellent points. Thanks for a super article!

  21. Excellent article. It’s important to understand that LinkedIn is a professional networking site, not a casual online social meeting place like FaceBook. Keep it professional.
    David Burke recently posted..Rules for Fools

  22. Chelsea Harrison

    I am a student and heard about LinkedIn at a SIFE convention last fall. Your post was extremely helpful to me! It was to my understanding about this networking site that I would be able to connect with people that will put me in a job. Now that I know how to actually use the site for what it is meant for, when I am ready to start my career I will benefit from it! Thank you!

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