Do They Really Think This is Networking?

The LinkedIn invitation came with the standard header: Invitation to Connect. I didn't recognize the name, but I opened the invite out of curiosity. Here's the entire text of the message:
I know you know a lot of people that have been impacted by the economy and are keeping their options open to making some extra money part time. I would enjoy the opportunity to introduce myself and share with you what I am doing to see if it is a good fit for anyone you know!
I didn't respond. But if I was going to, here's what I would say to Mr. Bad Networker:
Yes, I do know a lot of people because I've worked hard at getting to know them, earning their trust, and building a relationship with them. I'm not ready to throw that all away for your benefit. You didn't even pretend to be interested in helping me.

And of course you would enjoy the opportunity to introduce yourself, but what about me? Would I enjoy being used as your sales tool? Do you really think I value my relationships so little that I'm seriously going to introduce you to them?

I have some credibility to maintain so I can't imagine myself listening to your sales pitch and then giving you contact information for my network. How would I introduce you? I would have to say, "Hey Bob, I just met this person. They have no interest in me personally but they would very much like to make money off of you. How about giving them your time? And bring your Rolodex, I'm sure they'll want to be introduced to your friends."

If you want to sell to people rather than engage in real networking, knock yourself out ... but don't involve me.
What would you say to them?


  1. Excellent article. Beth hit the nail on the head. The sender of that letter has no idea that the way his words came across to Beth is the way they come across to practically everyone else. Yet, because he knows no other way it's what he'll continue to do...until he drops out of the business with only frustration to show for his efforts. Thank you, Beth,for the great work you're doing in teaching people how to build actual relationships that add value to the lives of everyone they touch.

  2. Do you want royalties if I send out some version of your draft?

  3. Todd,

    I'm working on version 2.0. Seems to be a consensus that I'm doing this person a disservice by not pointing out (in a very helpful, positive and productive way) how ineffective their approach is.

    I agree. I think if we want to call ourselves "experienced" networkers, we have some obligation to give people feedback. It will probably start with something like "I don't know if you realize how your approach sounds, but ..."

    Stay "tuned."

  4. Beth,

    Great work with the recent blogs (Bob Burg commenting on your blogs isn't a bad thing.)

    As you know, I completely agree with your sentiment in this article.

    As a younger business owner I actually became familiar with social media before referral networking. (The reverse of many people).

    I think there is going to be a huge paradigm shift within the next few years when the quality of connections and reputation will take presidence over technology.

    Right now, there are too many people who've made careers out of exploiting social media, sometimes with good intention and sometimes not.

    We've been in the labratory at Referral Key working on some very exciting things.

    I look forward to sharing them with you in the upcoming weeks.

    Chris Ott
    Referral Key
    "Your Trusted Referral Network"