As an open networker, I have no problem connecting to people. That’s what networking is all about… keeping your door open.
That means I say “yes” to a lot of requests to connect from people that I don’t know. Sure, why not? It’s fun to get to know folks, and you never know where that connection might take you. This approach has led to far more opportunities coming my way either from people who turn into future clients or meaningful business connections.
But occasionally, someone abuses the open nature of LinkedIn, and the end result is that these people make a complete horse’s rear out of themselves. Case in point: I got an email yesterday from a fundraising website with the following message:
“Hi. I am one of your connections from over on LinkedIn and I was just wondering if you could help me? I have sent this message to all of my contacts, I hope you don’t mind. I am currently trying to raise money to help fund my walk from Beijing to London. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Making a donation is super easy! Simply visit my campaign page and click donate. Any amount makes a difference!”
Oh. My. Gawd!!!!!!
This person contacted me to connect, and then added me to a database just so he could ask for money. Wow. Beyond brazen.
I mean, sure, we would ALL love to ask unknown persons for money so we have the funds to do what we want, right??!! Get in line, buddy!
So here’s my response:
“Please accept this advice in the spirit in which it is intended… I want to help you as a career management coach. Most people you have emailed won’t take the time to write, but I do want to help you.
That being said, you should know that your request has violated LinkedIn’s terms of service (you obviously downloaded everyone’s email you connected with on LI and then added them all to Fundly). This is NOT networking.
And what you have done is extremely tacky. Here’s the deal: I don’t know you. You haven’t made any attempt to allow me to get to know you. And now you are asking me for money? Are you kidding me???
LinkedIn is for getting to know people and building a community, not asking. If you can start to see how garish this request is, you’ll see what you’ve just done to your entire network: Turned them off of you, as well as damaged your personal brand with this “ask.”
I hope you can understand that I am trying to help, and also help you understand that you have violated those use terms with LinkedIn which could mean that you can be blacklisted. You may have just put your career at risk because LI has become the “go-to” resource for networking.”
This person had totally missed the point of networking. Networking is NOT about asking… it’s about giving first and expecting nothing in return. We are motivated to help others who have helped them, not when it is expected as some form of entitlement.
So, did I ever hear from the sender of this email in response to my message to them?
I’m not surprised. At the very least, however, I hope they realized what a complete idiot they were to alienate their network with such a self-centered and thoughtless request.
My closing thought: Please don’t be this person.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Pathfinder!
About the Author: Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is the president of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services, where she provides results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. She is the official “Get the Job” columnist for One+ Magazine distributed to over 26,000 meeting professionals worldwide, and Talentzoo.com, a job resource site for creative and marketing professionals. Dawn is also a recognized career expert on Careerealism.com – a top 10 world-ranked career advice blog – and a regular contributor to TalentCulture.com’s weekly meeting #tchat on Twitter. Follow Dawn on Twitter!