In my LinkedIn Unleashed workshop I make an off-handed comment that LinkedIn is NOT a dating site. I get chuckles from the attendees, but I never seriously consider that some people try to use LinkedIn as a dating site, until recently.
A female job seeker told me she was hesitant to network because it involves reaching out to strangers. I told her her reluctance was not uncommon, but then she went on to tell me about a LinkedIn member who asked her out on a date.
Shocked, I asked her to repeat her claim. Not just once, she told me, but by numerous people. How, I wondered out loud, can men take advantage of people who are unemployed and vulnerable? The unemployed are looking for a job, not a date.
I’ve read claims from other women on LinkedIn who were hit on or received sexist remarks. One person went as far as to call out a person on a Facebook group, The Un*Professional LinkedIn Network, where shameless accusations were common.
The point here is that LinkedIn is intended for professional networking, which doesn’t include using it to ask for dates. Some people, however, haven’t gotten the message.
I classify the LinkedIn daters in three groups.
1. The oblivious. Not everyone knows better. They are oblivious. They don’t know they’re crossing the line. Their initial intention is to network professionally, but their overtures become too personal.
Their purpose to connect online and meet a woman for coffee may be for professional reasons at first, but they eventually develop a personal interest that isn’t returned. Nonetheless, their overtures persist, making it uncomfortable for the recipient of their advances.
2. The stalker is the next level of LinkedIn dater. They’re showing up on a person’s profile view on a daily basis. They really don’t have anything in common with the person, yet they’re ever present.
I’ve heard from some LinkedIn users who think that anyone who looks at their profile is a stalker. This is not what I’m talking about. Imagine someone looking at your profile everyday, without contacting you to provide an explanation. Creepy.
3. The level 3 type. Their advances are outright obvious and persistent, and will prompt the recipient to block this person. My client told me the man she spoke of in no uncertain terms asked if she’d like to meet for drinks.
As a job seeker, she wanted nothing more than to connect with people—men or women—who could be of mutual assistance, not people who wanted to approach her, based on her profile photo. This is what I find disturbing, namely that job seekers’ most important objective is to land a job, not be hit on.
A reader commented that “it is such a shame that some people do use their job titles and take advantage of vulnerability of those in job transition.” I agree that to use one’s power to hire, or introduce someone who has the power, is unethical. This is the greatest injustice of all.
I’m curious to hear of anyone who has met someone on LinkedIn, which developed into a romantic relationship. Please share your story if this happened to you.
*Perhaps “stalker” or even “predators” are better word for these types of people.
Photo: Flickr, Ashley Bishop