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[This person] indicated they did not know you

2010 January 14

I’ve been a member of LinkedIn since 2007. Today, I had a first-time experience. Someone I invited to connect with me turned down that invitation indicating that they did not know me. At first, I was a little puzzled because I saw the name and didn’t immediately remember who this person was. But when I clicked on their name and discovered that they are in the Washington wine industry, in PR no less, I stared at my screen in disbelief. However, the backstory that led up to this is truly ironic. This person was recommended by a mutual friend who thought I might be able to help them with social media. I wasn’t sure if I should interpret this as, they don’t need my help, and that’s when it occurred to me: there are many people who just don’t “get it.” This person is doing their clients a huge disservice by not understanding social networks; that it’s not about your own little cliques anymore. This isn’t high school (and for that, I’m thankful) and nobody should be considered an outsider anymore. They should read about the 8 C’s of Social Branding. I think those 8 C’s apply equally well to social networking in general. For me, social media is about connecting with like-minded people, sharing ideas and knowledge; initiating conversation and debate with colleagues and customers; and networking and marketing for your business.

With the exception of women wanting to show me sexy pictures of themselves, I have never outright refused a connection on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. I may sit on those requests for a while until I have a chance to review a person’s profile, but I have never selected the option: I don’t know this person. I’m really not the most social person in real life. I live a fairly solitary life right now so maybe that’s why I’m not the most selective. Whoa, that didn’t sound right. Actually, it’s because I never know if that person might be my next ally, customer or boss. Most people are on LinkedIn for business reasons and if someone wants to connect, why would anyone in the wine business turn away an opportunity to network, especially with someone in the same industry? Someone explain this to me, please. SM Fail!

Copyright © 2010, Eric Hwang and Bricks of Wine. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eric Hwang and Bricks of Wine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. January 14, 2010

    Nice piece! I also very rarely decline a contact on many of these sites. I haven’t used Linked in that much recently. I may have to have a look at it again.

    Your potential friend is the one who misses out though. He is probably busy looking at the pictures of naked women that you declined:-)

  2. January 14, 2010

    Eric – I’ve had to use that option myself a couple times. But I’m pretty specific about who I use it for. Not that people are banging down my LinkedIn “door” but when I get a request, I always check that person out. If they’re in the wine business then sure, I’ll add them.

    However given my profile also shows my other work (in the recruitment industry, though I’m not a recruiter) I get a lot of people who want to connect that are “build the biggest network of people I don’t know” folks. These are usually easy to spot though.

    So to answer your question, I guess outright ignoring an offer to connect from someone that is relevant to your world doesn’t make any sense. Though to that extent, perhaps LinkedIn should have a better option than “I don’t know this person” … maybe “I don’t know this person, but would like to connect tentatively because perhaps we SHOULD know one another.” Should we contact LinkedIn? Cheers 🙂

  3. January 14, 2010

    I cannot explain this to you other than it is their loss and maybe it has something to do with old PR practices where PR people build out themselves as gatekeepers. I had an experience recently with an in house PR person in Napa for a large sparkling wine operation. I visited the winery as part of an organized visit put up by the winery for wine bloggers. The PR person was telling us how much they get the social networking and that’s why they were reaching out to us wine bloggers. A few weeks later I contacted the same PR person to arrange for a video shoot with the winemaker and she simply shut us down asking particulars as to who we were, what is our audience, traffic etc. She went on to say that she did not want us to “bother” and “stress out” the winemaker. I simply dialed the next large sparkling wine operation in Napa and was immediately given access to the winemaker and we shot the segment. Who is the loser? I do not think it is us!!

  4. Eric Hwang permalink*
    January 14, 2010

    Without getting too specific, this person is someone who represents not just a few wineries, but an entire region–an area on which I have blogged frequently. As someone now working for a group of wineries, I see firsthand the impact that social networking has on marketing, brand recognition and ultimately sales. I hate to think of how many opportunities that wineries in this area may have missed because of this kind of short-sighted thinking.

    The great thing about most social networking sites is that you can choose later to disconnect, unfriend or otherwise stop following people without announcing this to the world, or more specifically, to the person you stopped following. Unless they are using some app to keep tabs on this, there are no hurt feelings like in this case. 🙁

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