How NOT to use LinkedIn: Three D’oh!s from a Real Life Example

By January 13, 2010Communications

I got a bizarre e-mail today.

“J. is a friend of  D. and noticed your profile on LinkedIn,” the message began.

“J. thought you were the type of person who he would like to have as a client one day.  You may not be in the market for any [fill in the blank – not what it said, but not giving away too much here] services at this time, but J. would like to tell you about what he does in case you need something in the future.

J. asked me to contact you and schedule an appointment to introduce himself.  Do you have time for coffee next week?”

Let’s review all the ways in which this is wrong, shall we?

1. J. didn’t reach out to me himself, he had an assistant to it, which leaves me wondering if J. would be too busy to provide the actual services he offers himself, as well.

2. J. was savvy enough to use LinkedIn to prospect, but NOT savvy enough to ask for an introduction through the social network via our mutual connection, which would have validated the relationship.

3. The e-mail was to “undisclosed recipients” which was a tip off to me that the assistant did a massive SPAM e-mail to several second degree contacts of J.’s — or, should I say, only those who seemed like they were the kind of people J. would like as clients.


Naturally, I forwarded the e-mail to D. who responded with “you’ve got to be freakin’ kidding me!” Turns out I was the second person to contact him with it today.

Linkedin FAIL.

I get it; times are tough and we’re all looking for ways to grow our business, but there are rules of engagement and if you don’t know what they are, you had better ask, before sticking your foot in it like this guy has.

What do you think of this guy’s approach?


  • Ugh. Cringe-worthy behavior, to be sure. It’s almost like an online version of “The Office” – this is something Dwight would do for Michael.

  • Tim G says:

    Got the same one yesterday. A Cville financial services office, right?

    Really, really lame. Question is, do I owe them a proper response?

  • Marijean says:

    Tim, I think a response might encourage this kind of behavior. What might be cool is if all of us that were contacted sent a group note to the guy (I have heard from at least five other people). Somebody needs a social media spanking.

  • Jim Duncan says:

    I feel like I got hacked. It’s one thing to farm email addresses, but an entirely different affair to use the farmed-one’s name as a means to attempt to ooze credibility.

  • Melody says:

    That’s seriously as bad as meeting someone at a networking event, exchanging cards and then somehow ending up on their spam email list… which recently happened to me. I am seriously wondering what it up with people these days.

  • Mike Murphy says:

    Financial services? LOL!! You have just received the 21st century cold call… This is the web version of the what I have been getting for years: “Hello, is George/G. Michael/ Michael/Mike there?” (I do go by Mike). The first 3 are obviously fishing expeditions, but now unless they will state the reason for a call I will not take or return a phone call.

  • Totally defeats the purpose of networking via a site like LinkedIn. Who the heck is on LinkedIn but then decides to have someone else do all the actual networking for them? Unbelievable.

    You know what that reminds me of? Passing a note to your friend’s crush on behalf of your friend back in junior high. “J. wants to know if you like him. If so, please check Yes.”

  • Michelle Elliott says:

    It’s the telemarketing of the future. Thanks to caller-id, we don’t answer our phones anymore and LinkedIn provides a “safer” cold call. Rejection through a non-responded to email is much softer for a salesperson than hearing the dial tone halfway through your pitch.

    My biggest complaints are regarding recruitment solicitations via LinkedIn:
    1) just because you are clever enough to determine my work email address from my profile, doesn’t give you have the right to send me a job opportunity at work – what if my employer sees your email and thinks I’m looking for a new job??? You’ve just put my current employment at risk… Pay for the upgrade and get access to my personal email!
    2) if you are prospecting me as a potential new customer, at least have the respect to spell my name correctly. It’s not that difficult – here’s a hint: I spelled it correctly on the profile you’ve lifted it from…
    3) one last thing — if my location and/or skill set doesn’t match the requirements of the position you are trying to fill, don’t ask if I’m interested in the position. If I had some highly sought after skill set, like balloon animal artist or a deep-seated desire to live and work in a federal prison, I would definitely post it in my LinkedIn profile (or maybe CraigsList)….

  • Interesting that you’re meeting him for coffee! Are you doing a public service, are you researching for a what were you thinking article, or do you just plan to issue the spanking in person?

    Agree with above comments… networking is personal – not farmed out to an assistant! Are you not important enough or just not a “warm” enough lead to be contacted personally?

    Good luck! Keep us posted on whether you see the lightbulb click on or not!

  • Duane Gran says:

    I also received the pitch, but I found when I called the person to the mat he was repentant and understood how it was bad form. If the interview serves to educate people for the next time around then I’m all for it, but let’s make sure that we don’t pillory the fellow any further.

  • This is bad. What’s worse is that this is trickling down from the top and some “marketing” person at Corporate has decided that this is the best way to use LinkedIn to mine for business. It’s kind of like giving someone a hammer to kill a gerbil…it might do the trick, but it’s not what the tool is for, and it’s going to get awfully messy.

  • Poor taste. It’s like chewing with your mouth open. You must know proper etiquette. I hope this guy discovers quickly that social networks aren’t a place to get spammy, and quickly see through people who aren’t transparent. It’s worse than junk mail because this guy is using a mutual connection (D.) to churn through D.’s contacts. If I were D., I’d be dropping that relationship on LinkedIn.