Emily Post Online: About LinkedIn Etiquette

Posted on July 6, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |


 

Etiquette

Should Be Called Netiquette

I’m probably dating myself unmercifully by referencing Emily Post (who I learned about in childhood) in the headline. According to Wikipedia, Emily Post (1872 – 1960) was an American author famous for writing on etiquette. She is survived by the Emily Post Institute, which she founded and which subsequent generations – now fourth – of her family continue. Visit emilypost.com for all things etiquette and manners – in both personal and business life.

Well…almost all things. Though the Emily Post site has a Social Media tab, it serves to take one to the various Post social media accounts. I was hoping to find some tips for proper Web 2.0 behavior but did not. So I’ll just have to take a stab at recommending better etiquette for an incident that happened yesterday.

Working at my desk, I saw an email come in announcing that I had an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. When I looked at the invitation, which was from a woman currently running her own online business – a mom blog — here’s what it said:

Hello Ms. Becker,
Terrific article in the Fairfield County Business Journal! I am reaching out to you to inquire if you are currently looking to bring additional marketing communications professionals into your organization. I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss my experience with you. Thank you.

The ‘invitation’ referenced the monthly column I write on Inbound Marketing. At the end of that column – both in the print edition and online — is the email address where I can be reached. Additionally, my email address is in my LinkedIn profile.

To be blunt, I was offended at the use of a LinkedIn invitation from a total stranger to pitch herself for a job. If she had emailed me at the address provided, I would have, at minimum, been happy to steer her in some positive directions to find a marcom position.

Even if I were looking to hire right now – which I’m not – this unsolicited applicant would not be at the top of my list to work in a business that requires client representation and concomitant good judgment. At minimum, it requires that anyone I engage understands social media best practices. Now, in every way, the inviter used perfect Emily Post etiquette – addressing me as Ms Becker and saying ‘Thank you’.

But in terms of social media etiquette, even though she commended my column, her invitation was more about her needs. Rather than showcasing her knowledge of social media, she demonstrated the opposite. For me, LinkedIn is about mutually beneficial networking, not overt selling. I’ve blogged about this before.

I decided to try to contact the woman to explain my reaction and why I did not want to connect with her on LinkedIn. I have a responsibility to those in my network and I won’t connect with someone who might subject them to a similar approach to the one I received.

So I went to her LI profile (which is quite impressive, by the way), did not find an email address, but did find a link to the website she operates, where I hoped to find her email. The only option for contacting her was to fill out a form on the contact page. No email address.

By that time my desire to communicate my concerns about her invitation and maybe help her avoid turning others off in her job search went out the window. Instead, I decided to turn the experience into a blog post and maybe get some discussion going on LinkedIn etiquette.

Maybe the person in question will see this on LinkedIn where it appears in my profile, recognize her invitation and comment.

Do we have to build our networks thoughtfully on LinkedIn? Or, am I being too curmudgeonly about this?

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2 Responses to “Emily Post Online: About LinkedIn Etiquette”

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Ellie-

Curmudgeonly – no! Your crankiness is justified. If you’re growing your LI network carefully, you should absolutely expect and demand the kind of social etiquette you’ve blogged about.

But here’s some perspective from the other end of the LinkedIn network development spectrum. After attending a webinar on how to kick-start your LinkedIn network, I opted to become an “open networker”, meaning that I would not only go out and grab a database full of other LinkedIn Open Networks (LION’s) but that I would also accept connection invites from any and all comers. Within a week I had 1500+ connections. Unlike many LION’s who continue pulling in huge numbers of connections and exhausting their rights to invite, I stopped going out to the LION databases for more. I was frankly worried about losing control of my network.

A year into this experiment, my jury is still out. On the plus side, it’s rare for me to search for someone with whom I don’t have at least a third level connection. But the quality of these connections is tenuous and can’t often provide the kind of warm intro that I’d ask of one of my primaries. For the most part, the other open networkers do not seem to be abusing the privilege of being connected to me. On the downside, the 16,212,080+ professionals that my now 1600+ connections link me to are a massively diverse crew that doesn’t often line up with my needs to connect.

The bottom line – Open networking for me has been a quantitative success, but without much to show on the qualitative side.

Best,
Dino

Great comments. Thanks for adding an important element to the network quality conversation. And glad you didn’t think I was too cranky.


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