The Brand Chef is a Jerk!

Yep. I’m a jerk… a snob… a ruffian (just look at my profile photo). Or maybe I’m just a little more prudent with the people I associate with in my social and professional networks than some?

Case in point:
LinkedIn is a great business-networking tool. I’ve only been a member for a short time, but from what I’ve seen, the opportunities are endless.

So, when prompted to import my contact lists from Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo, I was very particular about who I invited. Why? Heck, my retired dad doesn’t need to be in my LinkedIn network, nor does my kids’ school nurse! Call it caution – maybe respect?

So, I filtered… and filtered. I evaluated and built a strong network of contacts that had RELEVANCE to my PROFESSION and ME. I chose people that I could help and in-turn may help me. Thus, the result of the requests I sent out was somewhere around 99% acceptance. And that network grows more and more every day by my diligent research and requesting of introductions by my approved contacts to their network members – as intended (I assume).

Jump ahead a couple of months… I recently received a request to be in someone’s LinkedIn network. GREAT! But after reading it, I was somewhat surprised, because I’d never met this person. I’d never even heard of him… And to top it off, not only was this guy a complete stranger, but his request was the stock,

“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. – ‘Name Namerson’”

Hmm. Completely foreign AND impersonal. Not such a great start, “Mr. Namerson.”

So, in typical “Jerky” fashion, this was my response:

Hi “Mr. Namerson,”

I have to apologize if we’ve met, but I don’t seem to remember you. This, of course could be a gross mistake on my part, but if you could remind me of how we know each other, I’d be greatly appreciative. Then, I could accept your invitation and benefit from networking together.

That said, If we haven’t met and you’d like to have me join your LinkedIn network, maybe we should get together and see if there is some common ground on which both of us can benefit.

Thanks so much for your invitation, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Andrew B. Clark

Yep. Jerk. Told ya’.

Shortly after I shot off my response, I thought, just maybe, I was a little too harsh. Maybe I was being a jerk. After all, my response wasn’t very “social” was it? I left my office that day with the expectations of never hearing from “Mr. Namerson” again…

The next morning (Saturday), my Blackberry buzzed me out of a sound sleep at 6:30 a.m. As I tried to focus on the little, glowing screen, I saw; “RE: Join my network on LinkedIn”.

Surprisingly enough, he didn’t respond just to call me a jerk. In short, “Mr. Namerson” was abashed. Sure, his response included an apology but better yet, it included the information that should have been in his initial contact:

A quick overview of his background
A logical connection to others in my professional network

He went on to list:
Benefits of being in HIS network
His purpose and interest in being in my network
Directions for fostering a relationship

This morning we met for coffee. I now have, what I would consider, a good friend and valuable asset in my professional network.

So, maybe it wasn’t such a jerky move. Maybe it made “Mr. Namerson” more aware of purposeful networking vs. number gathering.

I see people out there with 50K contacts or followers and wonder are they networking with value and purpose, or are they just gathering numbers to win some sad, strictly mental, social contest? How well can they even know 50,000 people?

What kind of networking professional are you? Do you network with value and purpose? Do your contacts feel they can trust and respect referrals from you – and vise-versa?

Please comment and let us know your thoughts. Maybe I’ll let you into my network.

Until Next time…
Keep Cooking!
Andrew B. Clark
–The Brand Chef