Picture this: An individual of the opposite sex views your LinkedIn profile.
He or she may be a recruiter and they work for a Fortune 500 company. Shortly after viewing you, they send a request to connect.
This is it. My hard work and self-promotion are finally paying off, I’m being recognized, valued and sought after.
While this looks like the process any online headhunter would go through, it’s increasingly being used by another group of people: the single and looking. But is this really a thing? I polled a group of 20-something females about whether or not they felt they had ever been courted on the website. Out of the ten I asked, nine had received more than one connection request from someone who solely wanted to “connect in person”. The other was unsure so she showed me. She too, was being pursued (and pretty blatantly at that).
But at a time when sites like Plenty of Fish and apps like Tinder are making it easier than ever to find someone and “connect”, why would anyone take to a professional networking site like LinkedIn? The answer is in your profile.
#1 – Your Job
Simply put, many people will prioritize someone with a good living and career outlook when looking for a connection. And who’s easier to validate, the guy at the bar who calls himself an entrepreneur, or the LinkedIn profile which shows exactly what he’s done and where he’s done it?
#2 – Your Picture
What amazes me is that many dating websites and apps still don’t make uploading a picture mandatory. Whatever the intentions of the connector to the connectee, they want to see you. Professionally, it gives them answers to questions they cannot ask like your age, and if there intentions are personal… they’ll want to know if you’re fugly (to put it gently).
#3 – Your Willingness to Grant Access and Chat
When I asked the ladies about why they approved the requests of the guys who were hitting on them, most of them said they were unaware of the intentions at the time. This is likely because the nature of the site is professional first, social second. That basic assumption lowered their guard and made it easier to grant access to their profiles than had the requests been sent through Facebook, for example.
#4 – Common Connections
LinkedIn has many built-in conversation starters. One of which is showing you common connections. You know Bill? I LOVE Bill. LinkedIn even goes as far as telling you what topics to message recruiters about (if you have a Premium account) so naturally they’re trying everything possible to make introductions easy. They just didn’t know how the information would be used in some cases.
#5 – Your Interests, Groups, and Work History
Once you accept the invite to connect, you’ve granted a whole lot of access to your life. Provided you have a profile with over 80% completion, there are a lot of areas one can gain insight into: what groups you belong to, where you’ve been in the past both company/geography-wise and even a list of interests that you’ve filled out. You should revisit your profile to ensure that you’re comfortable with your connections seeing all of these sections. If not, head over to your privacy settings or consider omitting some of these details at the expense of ‘Profile Strength’.
When I asked one of my friends who was on the other side of LinkedIn pursuit, he offered this food for thought. “I’m not getting on LinkedIn with the intent to hit on girls. But, if through my regular browsing I come across someone who has the same interests, common connections and genuinely intrigues me, I don’t think it’s wrong to send them a message, provided I make my intentions clear.”