By Brian Mitchell, CEO & Managing Partner

I have received great value from LinkedIn as an executive recruiter and business owner. The original premise of the platform is genius in its simplicity and impact: enabling professionals to promote their vocational profile in a public yet unintrusive platform. Brilliant! I’ve reached out to people through LinkedIn and had others reach out to me on RELEVENT business opportunities, questions, ideas, etc. Relevancy is the key cog in the LinkedIn wheel. And the appropriate method in reaching out is a “message” between professionals including a concise and clear purpose of the correspondence.

But lately I’ve been inundated with LinkedIn requests from people I don’t know with the default invite message “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” No actual reason, no mention of why, no relevancy. If you’re going to request my acceptance to be professionally “linked” to one another, shouldn’t we have some minimal level of collegial status? Do these same people send Facebook friend requests to people they’ve never met? It’s all a bit creepy.

And worse are once some of these requests to connect are accepted, what comes next? An immediate transactional sales pitch. We’ve never even spoken and you want me to buy your widget??? C’mon dude, please demonstrate some level of effort and insight and personalization if you want my attention. We are all in sales, one way or another, but don’t try to transact with me as your starting point. Does anyone actually buy from you with that approach? Professionalize your approach with something relevant to MY interests, not yours, and you’ll have much greater effect getting through. Otherwise the perception of spammers and scammers will be tough for you to shake.

I know, I know, you’re thinking, “but you’re a recruiter and recruiters are among the most annoying abusers of LinkedIn!” No argument. All the more clarity to understand that LinkedIn has become littered with irrelevant marketing overtures from lazy sellers to desensitized recipients. Stop the madness! If you want to sell something, that’s totally cool, I respect it but I don’t respect (and I’m unwilling to engage) in a canned effort to get my attention. It’s weak, it’s corny, and it doesn’t work. You can’t build an acquaintanceship through a computer screen and you can’t build a relationship without a reason to acquaint. You can do better, try harder.