LinkedIn can be a very valuable tool for B2B professionals to meet colleagues they'd never otherwise have access to, network with those they don't see very often and engage in conversations on topics of interest. It's also one heck of a community for getting to know your prospects and customers.
LinkedIn can also expose a lack of integrity and authenticity in a heartbeat.
Here's an example of how that can happen:
Yesterday, I received an email from a colleague telling me about a woman he'd met on LinkedIn who was asking for advice on finding a job with a marketing automation vendor. Since that's not his specialty, he suggested that she contact me. She thanked him for the referral to me. I know this because my colleague forwarded me the email trail of their discussion along with his note.
An hour or so later, I received an invitation to connect on LinkedIn from the woman which I accepted.
Next, I received the exact same email that she had sent to my colleague:
Subject: Thank you!
Thank you so much for connecting with me virtually! I just wanted to introduce myself and see if I may be able to help you in anyway and initiate connecting further.
If I may, I am writing to you because my current employer which is a small marketing automation provider, lost its funding. As a result, I am initiating an aggressive job search campaign. I am a well-qualified sales/business development executive with a 15+ track record of surpassing sale quotas.
If you have any questions about my background or would just like to see how we may be able to help one another, please email me or dial...
No salutation. Nothing personalized. Word-for-word the same exact message as if the exchange between her and my colleague never happened. If you get this message, just click delete. I have a feeling it's being sent to more people than the two of us.
What a turn off!
Will I help this person? NO.
Am I even interested in being connected to her? NOPE.
Do I feel slimed? YEP.
The point of this rant is that building a network takes time, care and respect. LinkedIn is tied to your professional reputation, your integrity. Trust me, if this woman's name ever comes up in conversation my response won't be favorable.
You never know who people know or the side conversations that can happen beyond your visibility. It's a small world out there - getting smaller by the day. If you don't have respect for others or for yourself, it will become obvious faster than you think.
The sad part is that she could have started a relationship. She could have met some people who could introduce her to others who could help her find a new position. She could have made the experience valuable for others and for herself. But she didn't.
She has just been "unlinked" - removed from my connections.