LinkedIn Etiquette, rule #1: Be nice!

The hardest part about job hunting, for me anyway, is networking. I tend to be kind of shy (if you don’t count the part where I like to write stuff intended for the whole world to read), and I prefer to have a few, close friends than huge numbers of fringe acquaintances. But to be a good networker, sometimes I have to bank on the fringe acquaintances. I don’t want to be one of those people who only calls when I need something, so I try to keep a lot of plates in the air, spinning relationships with people I haven’t seen in a long time but who might know so-and-so at company X. Unfortunately, so far I’ve had about as much luck with my network as I have with my blind job applications: no luck. I’m starting to think I suck at networking.

Then other day I got a LinkedIn connection request from someone I don’t know. I accepted the request because a.) he was connected to several other people I know b.) he worked for a company that sounded really interesting and c.) I just so happen to be trying to build my LinkedIn network, too, so why not? I was pretty bummed out when the minute we were connected he messaged me to solicit business for his company.

Then I thought about it for a second and decided I shouldn’t be reacting so harshly. If I were in his shoes, wouldn’t that be why I was connecting to these strangers? Maybe I would approach the relationship differently, try to introduce myself a little first, before jumping on the hard sell, but in essence isn’t everyone on LinkedIn trying to make connections that will benefit the bottom line?

I could have just ignored this guy completely, but I decided to respond instead. I can’t help his business in any way… at least not right now… but I told him that the company sounded very interesting and that I would keep him in mind for the future.

He replied and told me that the company is new and having a rough time of things and that it was “nice to get a polite response.” Can you imagine? It’s actually noteworthy that I wrote back (even with nothing to offer!) and was “polite” about it. I actually think it’s pretty sad that so little should be so much.

I don’t know what, if anything, will ever come from this new LinkedIn connection we share… probably nothing… but I think our little “polite” exchange made both of our days a little brighter.

Maybe I don’t suck at networking after all…

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