68 great comments!

Don’t Be A Jerk On Linkedin

    social information processing, world wide web, linkedin open networker, online social networking, human interest, stink bombs, community websites, social media, web 2.0, business development, collaboration, linkedin, nice, tempt, jerk, successfully, sarcastic, connections, subject Do you smell something?

Every once in a while I have an interaction on LinkedIn that I simply can’t explain.  I work back through how it all got started, tracing my steps, my comments and the way that I attempted to reach out to someone.

I did it right. 

I wanted to meet someone on LinkedIn to ask them a question about a new project I’m working on. Perhaps they could help? I used another connection to get introduced and wrote a short note to explain my interest and how it might benefit them. It was personable and asked only for a quick phone call to explain.

This person does business development for his company.  I wanted to do business with them and he had no interest.  In fact, he pushed me away with a sarcastic comment about how he couldn’t think of a thing we could talk about.  And, instead, suggested (jokingly) that talking about the NCAA final four might be more worth our time. Jerk (too harsh?).


I did it right because I know how much I appreciate the little things like personal connection requests, well-written recommendations and people who strive to use LinkedIn the right way.

In fact I write on LinkedIn tips often enough that I am acutely aware that I need to do it right myself.  Or at least try as hard as I can to be thoughtful as I grow or communicate with my network.

I won’t bulk email my connections on LinkedIn because I want a note from me to be more personal than that.

So when I go out of my way to purposefully connect with someone and get attitude or overt sarcasm, I want to slap those people with a rubber chicken or borrow a pack of stink bombs from my kid’s closet and throw down a firestorm.

So my message to you people who act with arrogance, ignorance or find fun in spitting your sarcastic static toward others (jerk), I have one thing to say:

You stink.

Have you ever faced a stinky person on LinkedIn?  Someone who acts as if your simple request is such a burden that they need to let you have it?

Here’s the profile of a stinky person, a jerk, using LinkedIn:

  • They’ve never really needed to use LinkedIn – they just collect connections like seashells and tuck them away in a drawer.
  • They’ve never been out of work before, never been a sales person or someone who, at least in part, uses LinkedIn to ask for help in some way.
  • They don’t understand that not everyone wants or needs a sarcastic comment.  Or they don’t score high on EQ tests (emotional intelligence).

Now please understand.  There are so many using LinkedIn the wrong way that I’m sure many have been burned.  They’ve experienced the old bait and switch enough that they just don’t trust people any more.

If you’ve been bitten in this way, here’s my advice:

  • Don’t give up on people.  Don’t throw out the baby with the stinky bath water.
  • Respond to any connection request that’s written purposefully and personally.  At least try to see how you can help.
  • Go to the person’s profile and read their bio to see if they are legitimate (or are trying to be).
  • Read their recommendations and see if others seem to like them
  • Because . . .

Someday.  I promise.  You’ll need us.  So play nice.

What’s your advice?  And what experiences shape your connection policy and interactions on LinkedIn?

Thanks Brianfit for the great photo via Flickr

Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
Tags: | | | | | |
Categories: Career Networking
  • Tam

    Someone connected with me on LinkedIn to ask (demand actually) for my business for a project. She happened to be a customer of our company. When we got on the phone she was rude and condescending to me. Now I’m stuck with her – I can’t delete her from LinkedIn for fear of further offending her. People just have to understand that whether it’s seeking business or people seeking your business, it’s not personal. There’s no need to be rude. Everyone lasts an average of 40 years in the job market. The road is long, we might run into each again at some point.

  • Msnow

    I am a heavy LinkedIn user and I’m with you – while the vast majority of people are fun and lovely, there are occasional wretches that ruin your day.  I’d like to add a couple of things to your list:

    Stinky people: When something does happen to them, they are the first to contact me, devastated, and want me to drop everything to help them…..really???? 

    Good advice: Open yourself up to the possibility of networking with someone outside your “comfort” zone.  It’s so delightful when it’s a success! 

  •  Hey Tam – yes, the road is long.  We might as well treat other well.  Of course that goes both ways – there are plenty of categories of people who ask for too much, pester and test the boundaries . . .

  •  Thanks Msnow – Oooh “wretches”.  I like that term.  Love your additions!  Thank you! 🙂

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  • Glen Loock

    Tam I feel for you, it sucks when you are in that position.

    I agree with Msnow it is great when you meet people outside your comfort zone
    and it works it is a great feeling.


    I received the following request in my email last night

    “This is random, but I’m
    going to be applying for an internship at …you are connected to … I’m not
    sure your relation to her, but if you could connect us or give her a heads up
    about my application I would be so so grateful!” 

    I followed up and sent an Introduction and recommendation first thing this
    morning. Both of these people are great individuals and if the internship does
    not work out I am certain they will become great contacts and friends.

    This also goes to your post the other day about:

    Job Seekers Are Horrible Networkers

    I am a job seeker I always try to assist people.

    And Karma and payback can be a B#*^H. They will need us at
    some point sooner or later, then the question becomes do we help? But I also
    look at it a little like the Hippocratic Oath taken by Doctors …”To the best of
    my ability and my
    judgment and never do harm to anyone”

    But Tim I
    like the rubber chicken and stink bomb idea! Works for me.

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  • Bruce Bixler

    I have one other one. The connection that wants you to give introductions to your connections not once, not twice, but over 10 times. Some of these people are OPEN net Workers and easily connected to, but…..what do yo do, introduce them.

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  • Yes, some try to overuse us.  Better to spread your requests over a few people or over time . . .

  • Thanks Glen.  Good thing about the rubber chicken is that it really doesn’t hurt anyone.  Expect maybe their ego.  🙂

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  • Julie

    This cracked me up! Stinky people usually end up showing their true colors on Linked In. Good thing you’re finding out now before you work with them.

  •  Hi Julie – Yes, we can and should filter new connection requests.  While we don’t want to push people away, we can look for early signs of a productive relationship. 🙂

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  • The closest I came to unpleasant people on Linkedin was trying to join 2 discussion groups. There are some elitist groups there, you cannot join if you don’t have, by example, *cough” a UN email address. Given the fact that some UN departments rather give generic email addresses like intern3456@un.org to their interns, well, let’s say that trying to join a LinkedIn group aimed at current and former UN interns is like trying to greet Queen Elizabeth II. There are also academic discussion groups which can be of great help to graduate students like me, especially when the said groups discuss about the subject of your thesis. Same story there: you send a request to join the group and guess what? You get blocked by the group owner, it doesn’t matter how legit your profile is or how many recommendations you have. It feels like if you don’t have a pompous job title, well, no one has the time to give you the time of the day, even on LinkedIn. However, I must admit that I met and actually became friends with some lovely people from different continents than mine on LinkedIn. Anyway, most people think that Internet is the perfect place to be great pretenders, they just forget that a leopard cannot change its spots.

  • Hi Anna and thanks for sharing those experiences – no matter how painful. There are some group owners that think they are running a compound full of “importants” – not so, right? It’s just a networking group. In some ways, LinkedIn gives group owners too much power, but hey maybe it’s time to start your own! I use the power vested in me by LinkedIn to keep out true riff-raff (people and spam) and members appreciate it. But you can go too far and piss people off.

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