PR Tips | Communications 101: Do NOT do this

PR Tips | Communications 101: Do NOT do this

I was in Cleveland over the weekend, where my friends were all riled up about a recent incident related to the professional networking site, LinkedIn. It hit a nerve, being young professionals ourselves. I’m sure you’ve heard about it: a 26-year old girl was moving back to her hometown of Cleveland and was searching for a job, and connections, via LinkedIn. She reached out to one woman, whom she’d never met, from a local job bank and received a metaphorical slap in the face. A very loud slap, indeed.

The woman the young job seeker reached out to happened to be dubbed Cleveland’s “Communicator of the Year.” Her well-communicated answer was this: “Your invite to connect is inappropriate, beneficial only to you, and tacky. Wow, I cannot wait to let every 26-year-old jobseeker mine my top-tier marketing connections to help them land a job.”

The marketing professional went on to say that my generation has a “sense of entitlement” and told the young girl, “You’re welcome for your humility lesson for the year. Don’t ever reach out to senior practitioners again and assume their carefully curated list of connections is available to you, just because you want to build your network.”

I really can’t imagine anything more discouraging. Personally, the term “networking” has been hammered into my brain since I entered college. Being told, “Get out there and make those connections! It doesn’t always feel natural, but that’s how people get jobs in the real world! You must put yourself out there!”

This incident bothers me because I experienced a similar one while looking for jobs my first summer out of school. I received a scathing response from someone and I was shocked and hurt. It was my first taste of the “real working world.” I remember my dad told me how rare that response was, and that the woman was extremely unprofessional. It’s stuck with me as a reminder to always stay professional, despite any personal feelings you may have.

More importantly, this situation troubles me because I work in communications. It’s what I do every day and this woman, in a way,  is giving us a bad name. Personal communication is the basis of business communication, and no matter what sort of day you’re having, remaining professional is, at the end of the day, what differentiates good companies from bad.

Laura Scharfeld