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 / Nice smile / Hello Beautiful…

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!

About the Author: Stacy is the Most Connected Woman on LinkedIn with 30,000 first-level connections and is #9 Most Connected Worldwide out of 100 million total users. Stacy has spent her 15-year career recruiting in-house for Fortune 500 technology companies and has been training others in cutting-edge social media recruiting techniques since 2004. Stacy lives in San Diego, CA and is an active blogger at www.stacyzapar.com.  Follow her on Twitter @StacyZapar.

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  • Steve Levy

    Most Connected Woman on LinkedIn ;)
    Nothing says “I value you” more than using the standard LinkedIn template when sending your connection request. These are like cover letters that begin with either “Dear Sir or Madame” or “To Whom It May Concern.” Give me one reason – one good reason – why we should be connected, and you have me. Otherwise you have me feeling like cheap and tawdry and I’ve worked hard not to be cheap and tawdry…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=585098751 Matthew T. Forrest

      I agree. There is nothing more lazy than sending out the general “I’d like to add you to my professional network” line. 

      • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

         Thanks, Matthew.  If someone writes a personal message, I usually respond back with a personal message.  The ones that are generic or have no message at all either get an accept or archive (depending on the situation) but don’t get a personal response back.  That’s how I’ve been handling it thus far…   Thanks for commenting!

    • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

      Thanks, Steve.  Personally, I’m not averse to accepting generic invites, as long as the connection would be mutually beneficial.  My beef is when people message me or send InMails asking for a favor, but don’t bother to address the message personally.  That’s what gets me!  :)

    • Karls

      I would agree. To me this is similar to a mass email mail outs at Christmas time. Zero thought – just get it done.

  • Karls

    Take that cute profile photo down. No wonder people are asking you out. So would you like to meet up for a coffee :)

  • Pingback: HOW TO: Totally Abuse LinkedIn for Job Search Networking

  • http://twitter.com/GayleHoward Gayle Howard

    Excellent post, every point a winner on the rules of job search and Linkedin. 

    • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

       Thank you so much, Gayle.  That’s a major compliment, coming from you!  :) 

  • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

    Haha… thanks as always, Donna!  I’m so flattered that you enjoyed it. 

    It’s something I’ve wanted to say to people a thousand times but have never had the nerve…  So a blog post was the perfect outlet!  :)

  • HKD

    I have a question – Is it okay to send an inmail to a contact you find from the company you are applying to? I don’t know anyone who is directly related to the contact. I am really interested in the position they have open in their company and I have applied online. This is something I really want to do and found a fit from my resume. The contact is at the Director level position. I was not able to find anyone lower that that from that team nor able to get HR information. 

    I want to do it but don’t want to blow my chances either. And I am not sure how this is normally perceived as. What do you think?

    • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

      Hi HKD,

      I think that sending an InMail via InMail is absolutely okay!  After you apply online, it’s a very strategic decision to follow up with a LinkedIn message to the hiring manager and/or recruiter at that company.  It gives you a chance to reiterate your interest, highlight your qualifications (specific to the position requirements, of course) and it helps you stand out from the crowd!  Read more here: http://www.stacyzapar.com/2010/11/10-ways-for-jobseekers-to-find-their_08.html 

      Good luck to you in your search!
      Stacy

      • HKD

        Thanks Stacy. This is definitely encouraging. :)

  • Kstevenson

    Great tips and information.  Will be useful for future connections.

    • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

       I hope so!  Thanks, K!

  • Edexterwilson

    Excellent post. Great advice. I will being sharing this one with my students!

    • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

       Thanks so much!  Hope it’s helpful.  :)

  • Chet Barfield

    Great advice — thanks!

    • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

      You’re welcome, Chet.  And thank YOU!

  • Mmanz

    I disagree in part with point 2. there are some of us recruiters out here who do find excellent candidates and then do our best to find them a job, contacting clients that have a similar skillset.. this is a large part of my role, i don’t just find someone to fit my jobs, i find clients to build roles around candidates. 

    • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

      Thanks, Mmanz.  Good to know!  I think that many people assume that the primary role of most recruiters is to be a “job finder.”  They send you their resume and you immediately start picking up the phone to find them a job.  That’s the myth I was trying to dispell…  :)  It’s great that you are proactive on behalf of your clients and that there are exceptions to every rule!  Take care!  (Hey, let me know if you want me to forward your way the dozens of such requests that I receive weekly…  j/k!)

  • http://technoviewdurban.co.za/ Geraldine Somerset

    I like your post.  I wholeheartedly agree with all your tips, LinkedIn is a professional network space and in my view valuable to all like minded business people.

    • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

      Thanks, Geraldine.  I agree… there’s no place like LinkedIn for professional networking!

  • http://twitter.com/GreyCatDot3 Dot C

    great tips. some things seem like common sense but I guess we all have different ideas of what is social, professional and just plain rude.

    • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

      Thanks, Dot.  Yes, it’s not always clear what’s appropriate or inappropriate on LinkedIn, is it?  And it varies from person to person.  I don’t take offense to 99% of it, but also don’t feel compelled to respond to it either.  :)

  • http://twitter.com/topleftdesign Keren Lerner

    Hi Stacy (Tracy!), thanks for that! Although I don’t get propositioned, called “Trusted Friend”, or asked if I can get someone a job, I do get loads of people asking me to connect on LinkedIn who I don’t know – people who I have never met – and they say I am their “friend” or that we have worked together. It’s just lazy! LinkedIn is for real connections – people you have actually met! So, thank you for this post and hopefully it will help prevent some of the silliness!

    • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

       Hi Keren, while I agree that LinkedIn can be somewhat impersonal at times, I wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater…  Remember that limiting yourself to only connecting with people you’ve actually met greatly limits your ability to network.  Just as you would at a live networking event, it’s important to reach out to new people, not just hang out with the folks you already know….  I’ve met some of my most valuable and trusted contacts through LinkedIn and so many folks have gone out of their way to help me.  You’d be amazed at the generosity of “strangers” and it’s such a wonderful experience when those same folks quickly become invaluable resources (and strangers no more!).  Just my two cents… :)

  • In2ition Inc

    Great article!  Wendy has a good add too.

    • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

      Thanks In2ition!  :)

  • Suzanne Ronayne

    Well, no fear, I won’t be contacting you for help.  You sound far too busy to help anyone.  Surprised you had time to create such a lengthy blog.

    • http://twitter.com/StacyZapar Stacy Donovan Zapar

      Hi Suzanne, thanks for commenting.  So sorry that the post came across that way to you.  I’m an avid networker and a firm believer in the whole “pay it forward” philosophy.  I go out of my way to help folks with their networking efforts everyday and expect nothing in return.  My network has, in kind, been incredibly generous to me and I’m really lucky to have met so many fabulous people through LinkedIn.  :)

      As I mention above:

      “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.”

      Just trying to help folks know where to draw the line (with a little humor mixed in) since it does get blurry at times… 

      Hope this helps!  Happy networking to you!
      Stacy

  • Rabbi R. Karpov, Ph.D., CPRW

    Great article! Thank you, Stacy.

    Rabbi R. Karpov, Ph.D., CPRW

  • Ann-Louise

    Amen. In particular, I’m tired of getting emails saying, “I’m looking for a job in …” Nudging me on LinkedIn would be bad enough if I knew these people (who would or should know to contact me privately), but I DON’T know these people. Definitely tacky!

  • http://twitter.com/Lana76092 Lana

    I could not agree with you more! I accept almost everyone that requests to connect. The number of times I have immediately been SPAMmed with a request to buy Mary Kay, find them a job, review their resume, introduce them to so-and-so, invest in their ________ (fill in the blank), join their group, or whatever, is amazing! Then, to take my personal e-mail address and use it to contact me, well, it does not make me happy. I do not have my work email on my profile for that very reason. My personal email address is what I check at home, when I am spending time with my family, and when I am away from work. Wow, I could rant on and on about this, but at least I am not the only one that believes these people are unprofessional, ignorant, or maybe both.