Originally posted 2010-10-12 11:04:37.
BREAKING NEWS: Attorney Generals from all 50 states, fresh off their high of censoring first amendment rights by shutting down the Adult Services section of Craigslist.org have now set their sights on a new den of iniquity and filth that is polluting the internet by targeting two new and particularly vile breeds of scum: The LinkedIn Prostitute and The LinkedIn Pimp.
Pimps and whores (or “escort”, “call girl”…whatever is more generally accepted these days) no longer just lurk on street corners or in the back pages of Metro Times…some of them have evolved. Some of them have hit the professional world of LinkedIn.com.
Some of them…may already be in your connections.
Now that I’ve got your attention with a salacious lead-in (hey, I’ve been learning writing technique from TMZ.com…sue me), I guess I should be up front and tell you that I’m not talking about people in the sex trade. No, if that were the case, I’m pretty sure that the fine folks over at the Fox2 Problem Solvers would have long since beaten me to the punch on this story. No, I’m talking about something that was just recently brought to my attention…and still has me a little shocked, to be honest…people are buying and selling LinkedIn.com connections.
I know, I know – you’re probably like me, and sitting there saying “No way, dude. You’re completely making that up.”
I really wish I were, but it’s true. It’s really happening. There are entire websites dedicated to it, and I’ve recently chatted with a few folks who didn’t know any better and fell victim to these predators. And make no mistake – they’re predators. Like any good predator, they single out and target the weak in order to make their kill. In this case, “the weak” are those who only have a few direct connections and are desperate for more. Whether it’s because they’re looking for a new job, or they’re looking to hire someone, or they’ve just started their LinkedIn account, or they’ve been to one of Social Networking Guy’s stupid classes and they were told this was a good idea because they’re told that nobody will take them seriously if they don’t have many connections and they need to grow them in any way possible…it doesn’t matter how they wound up in this position. What matters is that the desperate have been screwed yet again by someone taking advantage of them.
I can’t even really believe that I have to hammer this point home yet again: there are no shortcuts to building your network. None. Not any. There’s a reason why more than one of our Ten Commandments of Networking focus in on this point – because it’s really, really important that you understand it. Your network is probably one of the most valuable things that you will ever develop over the course of your career – in fact some would argue that it is the most important, because a solid network with great connections can help you overcome just about anything.
So, honestly, because we scream this from the rooftops on a daily basis…it floors us that there are still people out there that think that for just $9.99 they’ll suddenly have an awesome network at their disposal. And yep, that’s the asking price, $9.99. How do I know this? I know it because Matt Brooks (that’s firstname.lastname@example.org …feel free to drop him a note and tell him how you feel!) is the Admin, Technical and Billing contact for a website named “BuyLinkedInConnections!”, which lists this company:
20631 Ventura Blvd., Suite 205
Woodland Hills, California 91364
(818) 654-9711 <— feel free to give them a call to tell them how you feel!
…as the folks that are behind the site that sells LinkedIn.com connections for $9.99.
Now here’s the part that really has me all sorts of pissed off about them: they completely and horribly mislead people with their website. Their site (and I’m deliberately not linking to it, just so we’re clear – they will not get a single click-through or ounce of web exposure directly from this entry) is full of stories about how great LinkedIn.com is. How powerful it is. How essential it is. And even includes testimonials from people like an Oracle CFO about how a LinkedIn profile helped them find a job. Or how a job seeker found a job because of a connection in their network. All of that’s great, but it has nothing to do with the piece of crap $9.99 connections that these idiots are selling. We’ve already told you that LinkedIn Is Not A Video Game and so it’s not like there’s some mythical “high score” that you can suddenly achieve to become influential.
These are actually the claims that they make on their site. Seriously. $9.99, and this is what they want you to believe becomes true.
Let’s go ahead and run those down one by one:
I mean, seriously now. I haven’t read or heard anything this patently full of nonsensical crap since the last time I was flipping through the back pages of a comic book. And yeah, I was “that kid”. I bought the Sea Monkeys. I experienced the crushing blow of realizing they were nothing more than brine shrimp and would never be the magical creatures that they were advertised to be. I frantically clipped out the ad for the X-Ray specs, found an envelope, licked a stamp, and waited an eternity for them to arrive. Well, not really an “eternity”…but by the time they showed up five weeks later, I had come up with a million and one different plans to sneak a peak at Becky, the wonderful girl who lived two houses up from me and had recently changed from someone that I ran up behind on the playground and yanked her pigtails into that achingly wonderful state known as “coltish” – her legs had gotten longer, and was starting to get curves in all of the places that I had absolutely no idea why I found fascinating, but I did.
As I’m sure you know…none of them worked. Not inviting her over and leering at her from another room. Not staring at her from behind bushes. Not any of them. I couldn’t see through her shirt (and, in retrospect…really, based on the ad, why in the hell was I so interested in seeing her ribcage? Man I was dumb…) or catch any glimpses of any forbidden flesh. Nothing. I had been swindled.
I was devastated.
But not too much longer later, after giving up on the glasses as an ultimate failure…a funny thing happened. Becky and I got closer…shared our first kiss and a few other things…and let me tell you, those glasses were such a distant, long-forgotten memory…but in hindsight, a valuable lesson was learned.
There are no shortcuts to anything that really matters in life. Even if they’d worked, those glasses had nothing on the real thing.
So here’s to you, Becky. For, among other things, teaching me what the wise prophet Marvin Gaye sang – “Ain’t nothing like the real thing.”
I’ll give you a shout-out in the author’s notes of our upcoming book…