“If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.” – Martin Blank, Grosse Pointe Blank.
“We’re not computers, Sebastian. We’re physical.” – Roy Batty, Blade Runner
“I’m not in the business…I am the business.” – Rachael, Blade Runner
Why is it sooooo hard for some folks to get it through their skull that the most important part of networking…is people? You make connections and establish relationships with people, not companies or businesses. Companies and businesses are concepts…”things”…they don’t care how long you’ve known each other. Companies don’t invite you over to the kids’ birthday parties. Businesses don’t meet you for drinks when you’re in town. Corporations don’t send you bantering emails about their sports team beating your sports team…
Nope, it’s John the sales guy that you’ve known for 20 years that sends you predictions of the Penguins domination this year to keep that bond of a relationship going. That’s Melinda the admin that you shamelessly (and, let’s be honest, harmlessly…well, mostly harmlessly…) flirt with when you stop by their office in order to make sure that you can get on her boss’ calendar when you absolutely need to do so. It’s Gene the IT guy at your cable provider that you bumped into at a bar one night…and after a bender of epic proportions…now you know where to go when your cable modem dies.
It’s Brandy – the recruiter who’s been at nearly all of our events and always sports a geek attracting tshirt because she knows her target demographic – that will help you find a job, not Jawood, the company she works for. It’s Bob, Dave and Jeff that pull together these events once a month, not “ITinTheD.org”. It’s Maria and Darrel that open their establishments to us, not the BlackFinn or the Post Bar.
If Brandy ever leaves Jawood…would we still have a relationship with them? Sure…but it’s a guarantee that wherever Brandy wound up would instantly have a relationship with us because of our relationship with her. We tell everyone time and again – you don’t have to meet everyone, but find Bob, Dave or Jeff to get yourself situated and started in the room, because you make your first connection with one of us, not the entity of ITintheD. Our relationship with the Post Bar wouldn’t be as strong were it not for Darrel…were he to ever go elsewhere, we’d probably give his new venue a strong look.
I’ve made my point, right?
Now someone explain to me why I had to have this email conversation…
From “NOT AN IT COMPANY AT ALL” (note: they were responding to a “not approved” note from the LinkedIn group, and I’m deliberately not using the real company name because, well, I don’t want to give them any exposure at all, that’s why)…
“Why was I denied?“
“Because we typically don’t approve accounts that are “things” or “businesses” and not a person. Those tend to be accounts that are looking to join to spam, not really be a part of the group. What can we do for you?“
Now, for the sake of clarity:
– The “name” on this account on LinkedIn was the company name. Not a person.
– The profile was nothing but a spamfest for their company.
– Said company is, again, not even remotely related to the IT industry.
Here’s what I got back:
“I wanted to join the group to network….but since I was called a “Thing” I am longer interested. Businesses join linkedin everyday.“
Fair enough. I responded:
“That’s certainly your prerogative.
And yep, businesses join LinkedIn every day. Businesses, however, do not network with people. People network with people.
Best of luck to you.“
Direct, fair, honest and polite, I thought. Certainly one of the more mellow notes I’ve written. Which (of course) means that I got fire and brimstone back:
“People own businesses dumbass. They don’t run themselves.“
Wow. Really? Are you sure? Well, golly gee whillakers, that sure does make me want to change my opinion of you!
Then again, maybe it doesn’t:
“I think I have our next Don’t Be That Guy. Thanks!
And you’re in PR? Really? Like “Public Relations”, or does PR mean something else these days?
Might I suggest that you read: http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=user_agreement&trk=hb_ft_userag
Specifically Section 10, B, 3, under the “Things you’re not allowed to do” area which reads: “Create a user profile for anyone other than a natural person“
Again, LinkedIn is about linking people. Just because you decide that you don’t want to follow the rules doesn’t mean that everyone else agrees with your decision.“
This is why LinkedIn allows users to create company pages that people can “follow”. This is why Facebook allows for the creation of Facebook pages that you can “like”.
But you can’t “connect” with a company on LinkedIn, and you can’t “be friends with” a company on Facebook. Because they’re not people.
Just like the ridiculous LION concept that we discussed in LinkedIn Is Not A Video Game, it’s not for you to decide when you will and will not follow the rules of the community you choose to be a part of. You make the decision to buy a house in a community with a home owner’s association? Better make sure you follow the rules or the cranky old bitty down the street will leave nasty notes on your door or get a lien slapped on your house because you take your trashcans out too early the day before garbage pickup day. Walk up to a poker table? Better make damned sure you know what the house rules are before you sit down and pull out your cash.
Maybe it does make us dumbasses to try and make sure that the members of our group get to network with other people. Silly us. What the hell were we thinking?
Oh, and go figure…I never did get a response to my last reply.
That’s all for this time, folks…
Make sure you check out our other Don’t Be That Guy entries…