Over the past couple weeks a few female friends of mine have complained about being hit on and even pressured sexually on LinkedIn. They spoke of everything from polite flirting, which did not offend them but they didn’t find appropriate either, all the way through to egregiously uncalled for sexual advances and innuendoes. My initial reaction to these complaints? “No way, who would really do that?” But after some thought I realized, we’re talking about men – and when it comes to women, a lot of men can be flat out morons. However, my next thought was, “there is no way men would, on a professional social media site, actually make sexual advances.” I thought, “these girls are probably being a bit dramatic and making more out harmless flirting or a simple compliment.” Again, I was wrong. A few of my female friends showed me the actual messages they received and I was blown away. These guys are really sending obscene sexual messages via LinkedIn! It got to the point where a friend became so annoyed by the messages, she made the following Facebook status post:
It was at this point I decided that, on Monday (today) I was going to write a post addressing this subject. Then, in an unbelievable coincidence, I received a strange message from a female LinkedIn contact. Amazingly, she proceeded to not only ask me out, but call me a “putz and a schmuck” because I politely declined. Listen, I have nothing against online dating. I have plenty of friends who have used E-harmony and Match and even Tinder to meet their new love interests. However, LinkedIn is far from the place to being doing this.
One of the best things about LinkedIn has been the inherent trust it established within it’s network of users. People senior and junior, are open to meeting, sharing, and helping on a variety of professional subjects even with people whom they’ve never previously met. I myself have gotten meetings with some of the foremost minds in digital and advertising, just by messaging them on LinkedIn. I, as well as others, have been fortunate enough to have these experiences because of the trust that LinkedIn has established in the professionalism of it’s users. However, if people start abusing the site like the people who trolled MySpace, it will erode this trust and relegate LinkedIn to just another social media annoyance.
LinkedIn is an amazing site, and I encourage people to take full advantage of all the resources it provides. However, guys, and apparently girls too, grow up. Need a date? There are 25 dating sites out there for you to join. Let’s keep LinkedIn for the professional world.
***I’m not one for calling people out in professional circumstances, but I am going to post this message sequence I received from that girl (Eileen) on Sunday. I’m willing to do so, because in no way was she being professional. Let me be clear, had she just taken my refusal politely, I would have simply been flattered by the request, laughed it off as coincidental, and moved on. However, after her arrogant response, I feel no remorse for making the messages public. Start from the bottom and read up.