I’m a competent professional, sought after for my business acumen and technical skills. As an extrovert, I relish connecting with people through my work. I (like to think) I am skilled at effective communication, with sincerity and warmth. Sure, I can manage a difficult project, but I usually try to succeed with respect, charisma and agreeableness. Just don’t get between me and the finish line.
When I was asked to use social media for business purposes, I jumped right in … serving up intelligent links in tweets, articles, professional groups and presentations, and made full use of my LinkedIn Premium account to seek out other professionals.
As a sales executive, I have to put myself out there to win business and mind share. I can skin a server in minutes, then document the recovery in a white paper. And sell you the services.
Imagine the icky feeling I felt when stalked, messaged and propositioned on LinkedIn.
In a legit business environment, you use your real name alongside real information about you, where you spend your days – and sometimes evenings – with enough information for anyone to contact you. You don’t hide behind foxy profile names and obscure photos … at least not in the polished circles of the above board boardroom. In the office halls, I prefer classic yet simple chic. A taylored business suit, stockings and leather pumps … pearl earrings and no other bling.
If you are online, your privacy will occasionally get poked by someone hoping to make money off your employment, like a recruiter … or someone hoping to leverage you to kickstart their own career. It’s good to be sought after. I consider those feelers to be as innocuous as resume blasts or unsolicited sales proposals. Minor annoyances in bulk, but harmless. LinkedIn is – in fact – just that … a professional networking platform.
Hitting on someone in that forum is about as unexpected and uncomfortable as harassment in the office … because that is exactly what it is. A sexualized comment and a request for a personal meeting immediately after a handshake feels predatory. There is a difference between a mutual romance that sparked out of late nights in the office and someone being a creep. While it may seem like a good idea to you, it’s not the time, nor place, for personal messages suggesting an intimate rendezvous. LinkedIn is not meant for online dating. That’s not what I signed up for.
If you reach out to connect with someone on LinkedIn and their reply is polite and professional, keep it at that level rather than trying to cop a feel. Otherwise you might get kicked out of LinkedIn. Or worse.
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