LinkedIn: An abused marketing tool?

I was inspired to write this post following three recent LinkedIn occurrences:

  1. An endorsement request from someone I worked with at the same company for six months, five years ago – we worked in completely different roles and different departments. We lunched together a few times but I am ashamed to say I didn’t even recognise her name.
  2. An “introduction” email from a business contact introducing me to one of his clients who he thought I might find it useful to have an alliance with. This was an unsolicited introduction which I now feel obliged to follow up even though I have no inclination to.
  3. A “Skills and Expertise” endorsement from someone that I have never met, spoken to or worked for/with.

It seems to me that technology has facilitated the ease in which we communicate but also allows us to act in a way that we wouldn’t do in the real world. Would you ring up someone you vaguely knew in a previous job several years ago and ask them to be a referee on a job application? Would you make a referral without checking your contact was happy to receive the referral first? Would you positively encourage your business contacts to use a service you had no prior experience of?

I may be exaggerating the point but I think you see where I’m coming from.

LinkedIn is a useful marketing/business development tool yet misused its value will deteriorate and it will no longer have a useful purpose. I appreciate that we communicate differently in the social media sphere but we are still human beings at the end of the technology chain and this should not be forgotten.

My top tips for LinkedIn etiquette are:

  • Only do what you’d be comfortable doing in person.
  • Don’t ask for endorsements from people you don’t know. Ask those who can share valuable insight.
  • Only endorse somebody if you genuinely have experience of that person.
  • Be polite – ask nicely and be sure to say thank you.
  • Connect only with people you know – definitely don’t invite people you don’t know by indicating you are a ‘friend’!
  • If someone contacts you write back. It is rude not to.
  • Don’t rely on the default text – personalise your messages.

To keep LinkedIn working as an effective marketing tool make sure you follow the LinkedIn etiquette!