LinkedIn is NOT a dating site

And 3 types of inappropriate daters*.

In my LinkedIn 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.

online-dating

How wrong I’ve been. A conversation with a job seeker brought it home to me that people of both genders are using LinkedIn for a dating site. She was exasperated as she told me she doesn’t like networking because it involves reaching out to strangers.

This feeling is natural I told her, 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. This is not natural!

My client was so distraught that I cursed this person…out loud. How, I wondered, could people who have the ability to help people who are unemployed—vulnerable, should I say—take advantage of them? The unemployed are looking for a job, not a date.

I’ve read claims from other people 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 who comes across as a LinkedIn dater knows better. They are oblivious. They don’t know they’re crossing the line. They are attracted to a LinkedIn member as a professional connection, but their overtures become too personal.

Their purpose for meeting with someone 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 fjind disturbing, namely that job seekers’ most important objective is to find a goal, not be hit on.


I’m sure some LinkedIn members have carried their professional relationship to one that’s personal in nature. But that was their choice. When unwanted advances occur, this is not acceptable, particularly when someone is reaching out for help in their job search.

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 transitions.” 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

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4 thoughts on “LinkedIn is NOT a dating site

  1. davidhuntpe

    The first type can, IMHO, potentially be forgiven. Each of us has windows of acceptable behavior; these windows do not always align perfectly from person to person and, sometimes, don’t overlap at all.

    I’m certainly guilty of being in that first category. Not because I’m “in pursuit” of someone, but… you find a networking contact that has promise, you make contact, you want to get together purely for professional reasons to increase that person’s comfort level with you so they’re more likely to help you with other contacts… but they view that attempt as a “dating request”.

    Another in that category – again, likely guilty – is when you’ve made a contact with a person, and your attempts to maintain that contact are wrongly perceived.

    In either case, MY solution is to SAY SOMETHING. If, as I suspect, most people in this category don’t know they’ve crossed a line, they’ll be apologetic and back away.

    The second two types, however, are clearly and definitely NOT for LinkedIn.

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  2. Things Career Related Post author

    Thanks for your comment, David. I think the first category is the most prevent. I think we develop an affection, female or male that can be perceived by the recipient erroneously. Nonetheless it’s taken as an advance. Perhaps our tone is wrong, while our intent is purely professional.

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    1. davidhuntpe

      And that’s why, if you are “approached” by something well shy of “Hey, baby, lookin’ good!” or some such – SAY SOMETHING.

      Let me give you an example. I made contact with someone at a target company; female, and attractive, she was in a perfect position to get me to the “next level” in terms of networking into the company. After a few exchanges back and forth, I asked if she would be willing to get together for coffee. I made NO mention of her appearance (because for my purposes they were irrelevant!!), but said I hoped for a face to face meeting to increase her comfort level with me as a person in my attempts to network into the company. After all, it’s not reasonable to ask someone to introduce me upward and onward if they are not comfortable with me.

      Gone. Wouldn’t even reply to any other attempt at communication.

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      1. Things Career Related Post author

        I always feel more comfortable talking on the phone first. If there is a professional relationship forming, there is no ambiguity. This applies to both genders, but usually it’s the male who needs to approach cautiously.

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