I find that I’m getting increasing numbers of invites to connect with people on LinkedIn and for the most part they’re not people I know or work with or am connected to in any way except their desire to sell me something I neither need nor want.
Almost always the offer is totally inappropriate and demonstrates clearly that they haven’t taken any time to learn about me and find out what I actually need and what I’m interested in. This is spam. Anything that involves contacting someone you don’t know with an offer that hasn’t been requested and comes nowhere close to meeting the contact’s needs is spam.
I joined LinkedIn to make contacts, participate in forums, write articles, post notices of personal promotions…and yes, I do advertise and market books, photography and writing workshops. But I post these in articles and status updates; I never send them to anyone’s personal inbox. That would be spam.
More and more, I’m seeing bios that read like badly written sales copy with their lists of features and skills, but with no connection to my needs. I have no need for someone who converts Flash to HTML5. If the dozens of programmers who’ve sent friend requests with this feature so outstanding in their sales pitch would take the time to read about me, they would notice that I’m not in the market for this. And if they were truly professionals, they wouldn’t send me spam.
I realize that some people may be desperate to pick up any kind of work they can get, especially if they’re working for a start-up or starting a start-up. I’ve been there and I’ve made the same bumbling mistakes, and the biggest of those mistakes is tossing random seeds over a professional networking platform in the hopes that something will grow.
Those seeds should never be tossed. They should be planted with the same care you would bring to planting seeds for a tomato bush. It takes time, research, thought. It means knowing exactly what your greatest skills are and identifying who can benefit most from those skills and then building profiles of those people and organizations that clearly define what they need and what you can offer to meet their needs.
Tossing seeds over LinkedIn not only wastes your time and the time of the people you spam, it strips you of your professionalism and puts you in the same league as a telemarketer with a list of random numbers.