What's happened to LinkedIn?
The professional networking site used to be a spam-free zone but something's happened this year and LinkedIn is now a haven for spammers and scammers.
Take, for example, the message I received from "John Salisbury", allegedly the "Senior Relationship Manager - Corporate Banking - at the Royal Bank of Scotland", who asked if he could speak with me about a "business opportunity."
Now, I often work with banks, credit unions and lending companies to help them connect with the ever-distrustful Millennial market, so, naturally, I accepted his connection request and responded that I'd be happy to talk via phone about his needs.
The next thing I received was one of those, "I've got millions of dollars sitting in a bank just waiting for you to claim it" emails - all that was missing was the Nigerian Prince.
When I tried to find his profile again to report him to LinkedIn, it was already deleted. I can only assume others reported him as I planned to.
Now, I realize scammers are going to go wherever people are, and, LinkedIn certainly can't control every action of its many millions of members. But, there has been a surge of spammy emails coming into my inbox recently, and other colleagues have confirmed the same.
The site, itself, has been in hot water over its own spam behaviors. In fact, the company just agreed to pay out a $13 million settlement in a class action suit because the site was scraping users' email address books and sending out multiple messages reminding recipients you want them to be part of your "personal network." Many users reported that this spam, sent on their behalf, damaged their reputations.
As for the "claim millions of dollars in the bank" scam, I don't know if LinkedIn has made it easier for scammers/spammers to message people or if spammers have just recently discovered the platform.
Whatever the reason for this recent influx of garbage, LinkedIn should review their current policies and/or better monitor and respond to breeches in site etiquette. Here are some of the site's recommendations to block and/or report spammers and scammers. And, here are some details about their existing privacy settings.
And, for those who wonder about best practices on LinkedIn, here are a few tips:
1. DON'T include everyone in your contact list on your messages. If you want me to consider hiring you or purchasing your product or service, reach out to me directly. If you must message many people at once, uncheck the "allow recipients to see each other's names and email addresses button" so I don't see that I am just one of many people you messaged.
2. DON'T copy and paste your message. Write for the person you're contacting. This is why I'm not a fan of the mass blast. Even if you do deselect the above box, if your message reads like spam - if it's clearly a copy-and-paste job - I'm going to delete it immediately.
3. DO show the value in the relationship. Be personable. In fact, I generally recommend that you don't try to sell in your first message. Make it about the relationship and the sale will follow. Think about LinkedIn like a networking event - you don't walk up to people and immediately recite some canned pitch, do you? Of course not. You engage in conversation. You build a relationship. That is the value of LinkedIn.
4. DO be brief. I generally look at LinkedIn while I'm walking or waiting somewhere. It's a scrolling and skimming behavior. If you send me a message longer than a few sentences, it is highly unlikely I'll keep reading it.
5. DO be relevant. I understand if someone sends me an unsolicited message about attending a conference in my field or about a new marketing, social media or PR tool. But, if you message me about your amazing new time-share or booking a cruise or some baloney scam of millions of dollars waiting for me in the bank, I'm going to delete the message and block you.
The purpose of LinkedIn is to drive relevant business, share relevant insights and foster relevant relationships. It is not some catch-all for every Tom, Dick and Nigerian Prince.
This post originally appeared on Jennifer Jones' blog.