If I Don’t Know You, I Won’t Refer You

Two recent contacts made me think – again – about the perception of “casualness” that pervades social media. There is no question, that social media can create a casual atmosphere, and in some situations it is appropriate and even welcomed.

However, I draw a clear line between professional and casual. Is it professional to make requests through social media of people you don’t know or barely know? For example …

A Book Request

Recently I received a direct message through Twitter with a request to “tweet out” this person’s newly-released book. I don’t know the author other than to be a follower on Twitter. I don’t have the book nor have I read the book. So, I honestly can’t promote the book.

Because of the casual and informal nature of social media, there is a presumption that others will promote someone else’s stuff even if they know nothing about that stuff.

Linkedin Mass Mail

This was an email from someone who is not a direct connection on Linkedin, but apparently, we share a common group. And this person, again someone I don’t know, was asking first, for my business and secondly, if I couldn’t use his help, for referrals from my client base. Really?

Now in my post-email exchanges with this person, he said this wasn’t a mass mail and that’s fine. But, why would you send a request for help addressed generically to “Hello:”? Whether it was a mass mail or not, it certainly had the look of a mass mail.

This is NOT, however, a good networking strategy nor a good Linkedin strategy. Networking requires relationship. Referrals require relationship. Relationship doesn’t exist in this situation, only a request from anybody and everybody in this particular group who “might” be in a position to make blind referrals.

I value my clients’ confidentiality and loyalty far above helping someone I don’t know. Even if I didn’t, this is still poor social media etiquette.

These events are not isolated, just recent, and they help me to understand why CFOs and other Finance Executives are so reticent to become visible. Thank goodness there is a delete button! Trust me, it is much easier to be visible and use the delete button than it is to be invisible and not found by those looking for your talent.

What’s your biggest social media peeve?

Share and enjoy

6 thoughts on “If I Don’t Know You, I Won’t Refer You”

  1. Nothing annoys me more on Facebook than people who share 10+ inspirational messages from pages of dubious worth. (I have noted that all of the sudden they don’t seem to be appearing in my news feed and am wondering if hiding 1,000 or so of them made a difference.)

    Your point on professional versus casual is right on the money. I get emails on LinkedIn like you describe and they generally get deleted real quickly.

    • From a Linkedin perspective, I think there is culpability on both sides. LI makes it almost impossible to say anything relevant with its character limitation on invitations. It forces me to be creatively succinct.

      On the other side of the coin is the “ignorance” of LI users about “how” social media works combined with a real understanding of the value of building a network vs. building a rolodex.

      Thanks Joel! I appreciate your insights!

  2. I despise Twitter-bots, where the same post appears multiple times a day. I usually “unfollow” once I notice this happening. I am not a fan of the Promoted materials. If Twitter wants to promote me something, it should promote based on the accounts I follow.

    I am potentially making a Twitter mistake in that my account is a personal account, but I follow and tweet professional posts too. The professional posts are fewer, but I am still mixing them in with the others.

    • I’m with you on that one, Chris. I would go so far as to say I despise “bots” of any kind. In fact, if, after following someone on Twitter, I get a spam DM from them, I also unfollow them. That is so NOT the goal of social media.

      Thanks for weighing in on the post!

  3. Cindy,

    Given the strong need in finance to be honest and trustworthy to a point beyond reproach, your strategy makes a lot of sense. One bad referral can undo decades worth of trust building within a network. Thanks for sharing.


    • “One bad referral can undo decades worth of trust building within a network.”

      Those are some words of wisdom, Dave!! Thanks for reading and for taking time to comment.


Leave a Comment