I was somewhat of an early adopter of LinkedIn, having a profile up long before it became the premier networking site for professionals that it is today. To this day, my online resume’ is not filled out with the exception of my work history and education, but that still does not prevent the occasional recruiter from knocking on my door with a job opportunity. Nor does it prevent the occasional professional perv from reaching out with proposals for a date. In fact, you might be surprised at how common it is.
I will never forget my first dating proposal via LinkedIn. It was in 2007, and after returning from a conference in New York City, an attendee at the conference, who also happened to work at one of my organization’s largest banking clients, sent me a request to join my LinkedIn network. After a few formalities, he casually mentioned that he traveled to Boston frequently on business. He asked me if he could take me on a date the next time he was in town. I had just found out I was pregnant with my second son at the time and thoroughly enjoyed telling him I was married with a three year old at home and another baby on board. I wish I could have been there to see him crawl in a hole when I told him.
These casual proposals have continued randomly, but at least with the 2007 experience, it was someone I had actually met and interacted with directly in a business setting. Today, the proposals are even more brazen and outrageous. Some LinkedIn members are abusing the purpose of the site. Besides just spammers, perverts and cyber stalkers were becoming such an issue, members started to complain which caused LinkedIn to add blocking features and other privacy controls just this year. Have you blocked anyone yet? I have.
Sometimes the scoping of potential dates may be done casually starting with actions such as unknown endorsers of skills to casual inquiries to discuss a business proposal. For example, this past summer, I had one guy who I had a third degree connection with contact me as he wanted my “professional opinion” on a new marketing tool his company was looking to launch. In addition to my expertise, he blatantly stated that he would be interested in taking me out to lunch or dinner sometime.
In doing research for this blog, I learned that there was actually a dating app launched in 2012 called Hitch Me, described as a “safe, secure and reliable online dating platform for LinkedIn professionals.” My first reaction, “Seriously, another damn dating site. Are you bleeping KIDDING ME?” But when I visited the page, I got this message. I see that experiment was a real success.
This is a real problem, folks. I have had numerous propositions fill my LinkedIn inbox and requests from people where I have no connections in common. Then there are endorsements of your skills from people you don’t know.
A few weeks ago, I took it upon myself to privatize my LinkedIn profile which actually irritated me as it goes against the very purpose of what the site is intended for. It’s a sad day when people are now using professional networks as dating sites. Am I supposed to overlook the fact that you are old enough to be my father and instead be impressed that you are a VP at Citibank (yes, true story)? Is that supposed to win you a date? I think not.