16 of my rigid LinkedIn principles…

…and my story about being accused of lying.

serious man

There are some LinkedIn principles I hold which are quite rigid. They guide me in how I interact with people on LinkedIn. You may agree with some of them, and you may think some of them are bunk.

Before I go into them, there is a story I have to tell. (You are welcome to skip the story and jump to my LinkedIn principles.) This is a story I relay to my workshop attendees when I talk about principles.

My story

Although I don’t live by an exorbitant amount of principles in my life, I will not be accused of lying or stealing.  An event I tell my workshop attendees is one that happened some 15 or so years ago.

One morning I went into my local convenience store to make a purchase. I gave the cashier, a cantankerous woman who often confronted me over the smallest reasons, a 20 dollar bill. I walked out of the store without incidence. Note: I later remember seeing her gliding the $20 I gave her to the left of the camera.

Later that day I returned to purchase other items. Upon arriving at the cash register, said woman told me I hadn’t paid for my previous purchase. The owner of the store happened to be standing next to her. I said, “Excuse me?”

“You didn’t pay for your items this morning.”

“I certainly did,” I told her a bit angry at the accusation.

“We have you on tape,” she said pointing at the video camera.

“Great, let’s play the tape.”

The owner of the company suddenly became nervous. “Oh no,” he said. Not necessary he implied.

Here’s where I applied my principles. “If you don’t play the tape or apologize to me, I will never set foot in this store again. Do you want that? I drop at least $40 a week here.” And here’s where she stonewalled me.

To this day, I have not stepped foot into that store, even though it’s changed ownership. Let me now tell you that some of my workshop attendees’ mouths drop. “I know,” I tell them, “sick.”

My rigid LinkedIn principles

  1. Like many people, I will not accept an invite without a personalized note. Tell me how we know each other, at least. “Bob, I took your Advanced LinkedIn workshop and would like to connect.” Good enough. (I make one exception; If I know the person, I will forgive this faux pas.)
  2. I will thank you for connecting with me. I guess this goes back to my childhood when I was taught to always say thank you. There is one exception to this policy (and this rarely happen); if you send me an invite without a personalized note and I accept it, I won’t feel the need to thank you for the invite. I figure if you’re lazy, I’ll return the favor.
  3. Please don’t use LinkedIn’s Publish a post feature as a way to announce your events or advertise your products. This is not what it was intended for. Yet, occasionally I see people provide links to promote their events. Maybe they don’t know better. Unfortunately LinkedIn did away with a feature called…can you guess? Events.
  4. I will not open your profile if you don’t have a photo. Sorry. I think you’re hiding something. I know you might be concerned about age discrimination, but please. A photo gives you an identity, an identity that is necessary when you’re networking. Honestly, I think not showing a photo is creepy.
  5. I will lose respect for you if you abandon LinkedIn. I’ve seen people work hard to create a kickass profile, only to abandon it perhaps because it’s too much work. Or they’ll land a job and forget that networking must continue even as they’re working. “I don’t have time,” they tell me. “Make time,” I retort. (Read my post on abandoning LinkedIn.)
  6. I will hide you if your face appears on my home page numerous times in a row. When I see someone’s face 10 consecutive times, my initial thought is, “Did you schedule these updates on Hootsuite to occur at the same time?” People, spread them out. Note: I am a bit a hypocrite; I update multiple times a day; way beyond the one-time-a-day recommendation. Who came up with this arbitrary number, anyways?
  7. Read my posts and comment on them, I’ll do the same with yours. This is just common courtesy and good blogging etiquette. As well, I won’t simply “Like” your posts without leaving a few words of what I thought of it. I figure if you put the effort into expressing your thoughts, I’ll return the favor. (Read my post on why “Liking a post is not enough.”)
  8. Don’t use LinkedIn as a Twitter chat. I know it’s tempting to converse real time with your connections, but when you do it in a group discussion; it’s reminiscent of tweeting. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy Twitter, but LinkedIn ain’t Twitter; at least I hope it doesn’t become Twitter.
  9. Briefer isn’t always better. You’ve been told that your profile Summary should be as brief as possible—that no one wants to read a novel. This is sound advice for your résumé, but keep in mind that you are given 2,000 characters for this section of your profile to tell your story, show your passion, and grab visitors with some accomplishments. 
  10. I don’t know where you got the idea I have skills in staff development and project management, or that I want to add nonprofit to my list of skills. I know you’re trying to be helpful, and I appreciate it; but please don’t suggest skills for me.  I’m trying to present as accurate a picture of who I am as possible.
  11. If your profile is a wasteland, I’ll think you’re not serious about LinkedIn, maybe using it as a place mat, or you were told to be on LinkedIn so you obliged. Whatever the reason may be, I’ll form a negative opinion of you and won’t read your profile. (Read my post on what constitutes a strong Experience section.)
  12. You immediately ask for something. Some people don’t know better. They’ll send me an invite with a personalized message, but in it will be a request for, say, a critique of their profile. Hold on a second. Start a conversation before going for closing. This is another reason for me to hit Ignore. Read: 4 steps–at minimum to ask for a favor on LinkedIn.
  13. When I see an update that is negative, I won’t respond to it. I believe in truth and honesty. So here’s the truth, when you’re negative, I pass on you. As an example, I have a string of conversation developing in response to a post I wrote (8 major job-search changes for older workers), and some of the respondents are going off on a negative slant. I didn’t respond, “Like,” or comment. I simply passed on the conversation.
  14. If you ask me to await your call, call me. Key to conducting business or your job search is follow up. I once tried to get together via the phone for many consecutive Fridays, but he was always busy. On the surface it didn’t seem vital, but you never know what comes from exchanging ideas.
  15. It irritates me when people say LinkedIn alone will get them a job. This is more the fault of an adviser or articles they’ve read, but jobseekers need to know that LinkedIn is not a magic potion; it takes personal networking as well. LinkedIn is a supplement to personal networking.
  16. Further, I’m frustrated when people tell me they’re afraid of being on the Internet. To them I say to not bother with LinkedIn or any application on the Internet. LinkedIn isn’t for everyone. I’ve come to realize this and tell people outright that LinkedIn isn’t for everyone.

So there you have 16 of my rigid LinkedIn principles. I know they’re not as extreme as the story I relayed to you, but everyone has to have principles in my opinion. If you have a rigid principle, e.g., you don’t like to be accused of lying, I’d love to hear about it.

If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, visit this compilation of LinkedIn posts.

Photo: Flickr, Alessandro Liga

19 thoughts on “16 of my rigid LinkedIn principles…

  1. vlbrown

    I don’t like to be falsely accused, period. I have occasionally had a manager come to me and say “I’ve heard from a co-worker of yours that you [something I didn’t do].” I have (each time) asked “Who said that?” Both times the manager the manager has said “Oh, I can’t tell you that.”.

    My response each time? It didn’t happen (they’re lying to you, manager) and, if I can’t talk to them directly, this conversation is over.


  2. Paul Di Michiel

    Great stuff Bob, I think you and I are wired similarly! Like you, I dislike – and tend to ignore – requests to connect that don’t contain a personalised message, giving me a reason to connect. Common courtesies tend to regularly ignored these days….


  3. Marc Miller

    Your only rule that I disagree with is #1. It is too easy to send an invite from the LI mobile app. If I receive an invite with no personalization. I follow rule #2, thank them and ask them how they found me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Thanks for your honesty, Marc. But I can’t see thanking someone for an invite that I consider “lazy.” An invite without a personalized message makes me thing, “OK, you didn’t personalize your invite, so I won’t thank you for it.” This allows me to be lazy. An invite without a personalized message is like a person sitting at your table without first asking if he/she may have a seat.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Above The Rim

        Good Comment Marc.

        Bob, you know my thoughts on this, I too am irritated by non personalized invitations, but I find that unfortunately too many people “just don’t know” So I will forgive them for their transgression and try to engage one time. This has led to some good opportunities, and the individuals did learn from their “mistake”

        Marc, you are right that it is too easy to send a non personalized invitation on smart phones, but you can personalize the messages quite easily. Check out my “LinkedIn Minute” on personalizing invitations on your smart phone. I have the video posted on my LinkedIn profile.


      2. Things Career Related Post author

        Yes, Greg. I know your thoughts on those who transgress and I appreciate your opinion. Marc, you must check out Greg’s LinkedIn Minutes. Very well done. Great speaking voice. And appropriately short!


  4. Ari Herzog

    With the new LinkedIn messaging system out (yay, finally!) maybe the company will enable a more prominent way to change the default connection message. And, I know part of the reason you don’t get the customized message is because people are using mobile apps, clicking checkmarks for people they know and they don’t have the option to edit the text.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Above The Rim

    Great post Bob!! Again your story telling really helps to illustrate points. I agree with most of your principles especially #6. This engagement helps to cultivate relationships and also lets people know what you think professionally.

    Keep of the great posts!


  6. Lorene Goins

    While I know that a picture on LinkedIn is SOP, I am reluctant to post my image online due to the uses of people’s images without permission that I heard about. For me it is not about hiding something, it is about privacy management. I will eventually have something in that space, an avatar or something else. If you have any suggestions that address my concerns, please let me know.


  7. Dean Pulliam

    Thanks for sharing both, your story, and your roster of “…rigid LinkedIn principles.” I hold similar frustrations in my LinkedIn experiences with regard to your Principles 1, 4, 12 and 15..!


  8. Shawn Oliver

    Thanks Bob, I have to admit that I have sent requests without personalizing them. I will no longer do this. I completely agree with #4, you need a photo or it is creepy. #12 really hits home for me. As a recruiting, I frequently have people asking for something without any previous conversation.


  9. Pingback: A compilation of 20 LinkedIn posts to help you with your job search | Things Career Related

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