LinkedIn Behaviour & What it says about You

Frequently, I get invited to connect to people on LinkedIn whom I don’t know. Generally, I have a rule that I never accept an invitation to connect from anyone that I have not either met or spoken with on the telephone. I do this to keep my connections to people that are in my industry and whom I know something about.

When I receive an invitation to connect, I read the message and view their profile to understand what they do, whether they are in my industry and whether they would be someone that I would like to meet. Too often their invitation message is generic and which provides me no insight into why I should want to meet them, their profile provides no further insight and they are often far removed from what I do or my industry, so I click ignore.

Occasionally someone reaches out to me and because of their message, their company or their role, I respond back with a message saying that I do not accept unsolicited invitations from people I don’t know but if there is anything I can do for them, let’s set up a time to chat.

Here is where I get baffled. They reached out to me. I responded and opened the door. Then they never respond back. So why did they waste their time inviting me (granted it only took two seconds) and waste my time dealing with their invitation.

Recently, two of the invitations that I received were from CEO’s of start-up software companies in Toronto. They ticked the boxes of people in my industry, CEO titles and in my local geography. One of the messages was custom written while the other was the standard LinkedIn default. I reached out to both with an InMail message: “I do not accept unsolicited invitations from people I don’t know; but if there is anything I can do for you, let’s set up a time to chat”. Neither responded.

Do people not think about the perception they have left? Given that they are CEO’s of start-up companies, don’t they realize that they have created a negative impression of them and their company.

The question is, does this negative perception matter?

I believe it does. Your personal brand and reputation is what you carry from company to company throughout your career. During that career, you will work with and encounter thousands of people, most of whom will form an impression about you which is positive, negative or neutral. They will make decisions that affect you based on that perception, regardless of whether it is valid or not. It’s a small world and you need to be careful you don’t make it a dangerous one.

Here is an example of how small a world it is. A few weeks ago, I was conducting a workshop for a new client. There were eighteen people in the room. The SVP of the organization was a former colleague that I worked with over 10 years ago. I had worked with the Director of Customer Success five years ago while they were working for another client of mine. I had also worked with the Vice President of Technical Solutions while they were working at another but yet again different client. One of the Customer Success Managers was a former employee from over ten years ago. One of the Project Managers had participated in this specific workshop while working for another different client.

In a room of eighteen people, five people who knew me from five different times and five different business relationships in my career. Any one of them could have derailed me from getting the consulting engagement with this new client if they had a poor impression of me from our previous time together.

So back to my LinkedIn story… For the very little effort it takes to manage your LinkedIn reputation, why add negative check-marks to your brand when you don’t have to? Recognize that you have a personal brand and don’t squander it, especially on the small stuff.

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