If You’re Not Going to be Genuine, Don’t Bother

Not long ago, I was invited to join a brand new business social networking site. Because I like the person who sent the invite, I clicked ‘yes’ and signed up. But having looked around, I decided it was much too early stage to spend time on.

For the last 3 days, I’ve received an email from the site founder. The first one thanked me for signing up and made reference to the fact I’m a resume writer. I thought that was a nice touch as he had obviously taken the time to learn a little about me. But subsequent emails make it clear that he had not.

His second email congratulated me on my ‘great profile’ (I hadn’t written a profile) and invited me to upload all my LinkedIn contacts to the new site. Huh? I just met you one day ago and now I’m going to breach the trust of everyone I know on LinkedIn by giving you access to their personal information? Nice try but not on your life!

Today’s email went to step further. In addition to congratulating me again on my non-existent great profile, he also said he thought I was building a ‘great network.’ Really? I haven\’t contacted a single person. Again, he thought I might like to betray the trust of everyone I know by sharing their personal details with him.

Later today I’ll be figuring out how to close this account.

But the experience reminded me of all the fake cover letters and thank you notes I received back when I was recruiting. So many candidates thought that ‘personalize every cover letter’ meant ‘feign an interest by inserting the company name into an otherwise generic email or letter.’ But every once in a while, I’d receive a cover letter or email note from someone who really had taken the time to learn about our company and who conveyed a genuine excitement about the details of the job. That person always got an interview.

I know it’s time consuming to personalize every communication and I know it’s frustrating when you do it and don’t get a response. But it really is worth taking the time to go the extra mile on 5 job vacancies rather than sending out generic applications to 20.

And the same goes for using sites like LinkedIn or Twitter. Take the time to write a personal note to each person you invite on LinkedIn rather than using the generic template. If you’re on Twitter, never send automated direct messages. You’re honestly not fooling anyone.

To get back to the site I joined, I know the founder thinks that he is combining a personal touch with efficiency. But if the personal touch isn’t genuine, it’s better to do without it.

Photo by Lauren Gaza

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