The pros and cons of LinkedIn as a social network in general has been much debated, and I’ve blogged before about the way the recommendations system in particular can be abused. It could be all too easy to become snarky or rude in reply to the many requests to connect that most of us receive from random strangers eager to boost their profile, aid their job prospects or simply stroke their egos.
But one American business woman has proved why it is actually very important to your own reputation, as a communications professional, to remain courteous at all times on this particular business network.
Kelly Blazek was kicked by karma after her brutal response to a request from a young jobseeker went viral.
University graduate, Diana Mekota, sent Ms Blazek a request to connect – and received possibly the meanest rejection you’ve ever read. Mekota published the response as an example of how hostile the jobs market is and the lack of support offered by experienced professionals to young people starting out on the bottom rung of the career ladder:
The public response saw the business woman scrambling to save her reputation. Within hours she had deleted her Twitter account, removed almost all her LinkedIn copy and deleted her blog content. She then issued a statement saying;
“I am very sorry to the people I have hurt. The note I sent to Diana was rude, unwelcoming, unprofessional and wrong. I am reaching out to her to apologize. Diana and her generation are the future of this city. I wish her all the best in landing a job in this great town.”
Now this possibly happens more often that you’d think, particularly for people in positions which would garner them multiple requests for help/info/jobs on a daily basis. So why did it blow up so spectacularly?
Well in 2013, Kelly Blazek was named Communicator of the Year by the Cleveland Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. The incident led to calls for the honour to be revoked, and last month she did indeed return her award by ‘mutual agreement’.
And let’s not forget that the whole point of her Twitter account, hinted in the name, was to promote jobs to jobseekers in her local area (@NEOHCommJobs)
There’s a lesson here for all of us as professional communicators. In this age of internet, social media and shared content, we should be careful to note that even our brief online encounters with strangers should reflect how we would conduct ourselves at a corporate presentation, at least in terms of good manners if nothing else.
We’ve all met people like this along the working-way. People who struggled and therefore want us to struggle before they could be happy for our successes. People who guard their knowledge and contacts like the crown jewels. The sort of people who not only covered their books in school so you couldn’t copy their answers, but wouldn’t help anyone who asked politely.
Those people grew up, put on a suit, and never learned. But I’m sure I speak for most of us when I say that I would only be happy sitting at the top rung of the ladder if I could claim that I hadn’t had to hold others down to get there.
‘You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.’
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Communicators – be nice! Or Karma will kick your butt…