You’d think introducing yourself online wouldn’t be so hard to figure out. Just like meeting someone in person — you say hello, share who you are, aim to be at least mildly interesting.

You’d think wrong.

For some people, networking services like LinkedIn are apparently a real mine field. In fact, some people turn incredibly creepy and evoke an immediate rejection. It makes you wonder if those people assume the same oddball behaviors are acceptable in real life, or if their weirdo side only comes out to play via keyboard.

If you too want to succeed at coming across totally incompetent or even a little creepy, here are a few key tips based on LinkedIn fails I’ve personally received:

Don’t reveal the nature of your business.

Like the guy who recently sent me a message asking for introductions to my international contacts in a remote city in Russia. “What’s your line of work?” I asked. “Really want to network with you, here’s my number on WhatsApp,” he wrote back. Sorry, dude, I don’t follow strangers over to other apps when you won’t even tell me what you do or why you want my help.

Shroud your face in mystery.

The days when the cool kids stayed incognito online are long over. LinkedIn is about open & professional connections. Want people to think you’re sliding downhill on the spectrum from mediocre to untrustworthy? Post a blurry distant profile photo, or just leave it blank. Either that, or head over to Secret where you’ll fit right in.

Message someone you don’t know and ask about their family.

This one’s a winner. If you weren’t sure whether you’d done enough to arouse adequate suspicion, ask about their kids and how it’s going at home. That’ll creep them out good.

Write in a foreign language.

Because every legit professional really loves taking the time to send their fan mail through Google Translate first. Or not. If you are serious about connecting with someone, reach out in a language they understand.

Send a genuine-sounding invite, then spam them with MLM requests.

Best strategy EVER. You’ll inspire angst, frustration, and a desperate search for the “permanent block” button. Way to go!


Or, you could take a cue from this guy, who popped into my LinkedIn-box recently. His superb message went something like this:

Hi Sarah,
Thank you for adding me on LinkedIn recently. Congrats on the projects you’ve done and how you’ve connected them to ministry. I was particularly touched by the video story on Haiti. With your permission, I’d like to pass on your details to [someone to whom he is related] who is currently in [X leadership role] at [Z relevant company]. Possibly you both can connect to do some great work together.

On another note I’ve noticed you are connected to several persons within the [XYZ Corporate] Network, specifically Ms. ABC. I’m currently looking for career opportunities bringing my experience in [X field] to the table at their organization. If you know anyone else with whom I should connect, please let me know. Thank you for your assistance.

Pure approachability. Self-marketing genius.

First of all, dear sir, you obviously took the time to not only review my profile but to view one of my recent film productions.

Second, you offered something of value — a direct contact which I don’t already have (what? those exist?) in a field relevant to my line of work. And you asked my permission!

Only then did you get down to the real reason for writing. Obviously, this is why you took the time to compose the message — you want something from me. Duh. But I’m so dazzled by the first half, I don’t really care. He watched my work! He LIKED it! He wants to introduce me to so-and-so because they might need my services! Before you can squeak jiminy-cricket, I had fired off an introduction to someone (hopefully) even better suited to his quest than the person he’d originally asked for.

And that, fellow networkers, is how not to be a creep while getting business done.

(Yep, every creepy example was pulled directly from my own LinkedIn inbox. #shudders)