Woo Me…Don’t Stalk Me! (The Dark Side of Digital Connecting)
This month’s theme (because it’s June) is couplings and un-couplings.
As my regular readers know, I tend to pick an major seasonal content theme each month and attempt to fit my posts under that umbrella (not unlike an old-fashioned magazine).
Coincidentally, I just read a quasi-rant on LinkedIn about how the site is turning into a weird amalgam of Tinder and your worst nightmare of a random networking event. The post was a tad harsh, but I’ve noticed myself that people are posting lots of content that has nothing to do with business, women are posting provocative pix, and both genders are sending me unsolicited notes telling me that I should be interested in their (professional) services. The problem isn’t the platform…it’s the behaviors.
My friend/colleague Wendi Caplan-Carroll (Area Director of Constant Contact) told me she recently got a LinkedIn request from Kate Upton. Unfortunately, Kate wasn’t looking for a Constant Contact account. It was simply a LinkedIn “poser.” We’re not sure what the end game was.
Some of us are on LinkedIn for the “right” reasons. We like to be inspired by other professionals, to connect with people who could be collaborators or service providers or clients or employees or employers (or, in my case, loyal readers and people who may be hiring professional speakers…but I don’t actively hustle). We may wind up finding friends…but we’re looking for friends with business benefits.
I have a lot of LinkedIn connections. But that doesn’t make me a promiscuous connector. I have been working for about 30 years. If you figure I’ve met about 100 people a year or an average of 8 a month that seems about right for my industry. Many of the people I know either work in my field or in related fields or are connected to other people I know.
Social media (even business social media) needs to return to its original premise…it’s about connections, relationships, and ultimately engagement…much like the dating process. Unless you have no dating game at all (or you have a severe impulse control problem), you’d never just jump out at a complete stranger on the street or at the airport and say, “Wanna have my baby?”
You might make eye contact, open up a conversation, gauge interest, talk a little, maybe even arrange to meet. And then let the relationship build.
Earlier this year, I discovered that one of my “connections” was simply using me to get to my connections. I’m not sure what he was doing with them (hopefully not sending them SPAM or creepy messages). It’s like the kid in high school who hangs out with the unpopular kid just so he can get access to his cool neighbor/friend/classmate. (I’m not really the unpopular kid…I’m just drawing an analogy.) I felt very used.
Even though the medium is radically different in the digital world, social media is called social media for a reason. And old fashioned rules of social etiquette should apply.
I will not be posting bikini shots (a horrifying concept on any public medium), asking you to connect unless we have something in common professionally, or telling you how great my company’s services are without your asking me about them. If you’re looking for a date, there’s another app for that. And a different woman. Call me old fashioned. In business as in life, a little charm and good manners go a long way.