Your reputation is affected by those who you surround yourself with.
I had an interesting little experience on LinkedIn and I thought I’d share it with you.
Maybe you’ve come across the same thing?
I was asked to connect with an individual on LinkedIn by another connection. This was an overt network expansion request to help generate interest in, this unknown to me potential connection’s, business.
Let’s call this individual, Larry.
Now, I’m not precious about my LinkedIn connections and who I let into my network. Ordinarily.
After all, if I can give a leg up to another business, then I’m usually more than happy to do so. That’s how networking works and our Dragon Sisters philosophy has always been to help out for no gain – the pay it forward concept.
That doesn’t mean I was born yesterday.
With many more yesterday’s behind me than I like to count, naturally I checked out my soon to be LinkedIn pal, Larry.
I’m a nosey sort and I really am interested in other people’s business.
Not in the curtain-twitcher way! (I’m not that nosey).
More in the what we might have in common way.
At first, I couldn’t figure out why my connection – let’s call him Bob – was raving about Larry.
Larry’s LinkedIn profile and information looked like he’d landed in LinkedIn Land a nanosecond ago.
Kind of the man with no past.
He’d been at the company he worked at only a few brief months. He claimed over a decade in experience and achievement in his sector, but there was nothing to bear out the claim anywhere in his summary or experience.
And I mean nothing.
With over 400 connections Larry had 4 skills endorsements and no past experience history.
Not that I count on vanity metrics, but still, given the dearth of information about the guy, that made his claims more than a bit tenuous.
His company website linked to nothing more informative than an opt-in landing site.
Oh-oh! Had Bob already parted with hard-won cash?
I had a nasty feeling he had. And Bob is a talented, hardworking, solopreneur. I didn’t like to think he’d been gulled.
So, I dug down a bit.
Actually, I drilled down like a manic mole. ‘Til the early hours, when I should have been in LaLa Land with the Sandman and a flock of supine sheep.
But I was intrigued and in full rat-up-a-drain-pipe mode.
Plus, as I said, I’m nosey.
The whole ‘curiosity killed the cat’ thing doesn’t wash with me. Not when it comes to business or handing over cash.
Larry’s claim was that he had the expertise to monetise Bob’s LinkedIn presence for Bob’s explosive business growth.
Really fast and really impressively.
Kind of like a LinkedIn networking guru who could turn LinkedIn into lots of lovely lolly for Bob.
First up, Larry would transform Bob’s profile and presence on LinkedIn into amazing guru-hood for Bob’s specific business sector. Bob’s new profile looked more gnu-like than guru-like. I was about as impressed as a kid at Christmas getting a stocking full of coal.
Bob has paid for this?! My high school kid has a better profile than poor old Bob. And that includes her Saturday job as wait staff.
Talk about being under-whelmed. Larry had done nothing for Bob’s professional reputation. Worse. He’d made Bob look like a complete numpty. And Bob is no numpty. In his field of expertise he’s a star.
My mid-night digging led me to the parent company of Larry’s business. It had been registered just last year. I dug around for the CEO of Larry’s company and that Big Cheese’s other business interests and his partners.
I looked at everyone associated with those businesses on Google, other social media sites and of course, on LinkedIn.
I checked out the company registrations. I checked out the glowing recommendations. Some of which were the same people (on various Big Cheese individual profiles) vouching for (different) businesses which hadn’t existed at the time of writing those gushing this is the go-to guy testimonials.
I found links to defunct websites (with domains registered to the Big Cheeses). To past events promising get-rich-quick schemes.
Most weird of all, was that the people in business together didn’t transparently acknowledge any relationship with each other. They all came from the same background. They all made lavish monetising promises, in different guises and under different companies over the years.
None of them had achieved rich list status themselves. And the way they were scrambling for business, like a pack of hyenas over a bone, had me worried that Bob had become the bone. Humble, lovely Bob, who had trusted his reputation to them and I suspected was on his way to trusting more of his hard-won cash to some under the radar business interests. And not in his business interests.
Spooky, isn’t it?
Dragon Sisters are big advocates of how to Connect. Convert. Sell.
There are ways to go about connecting authentically. This wasn’t one of them. Least ways, not one that works for Bob. Next time he’ll be checking out the reputation of who he’s trusting with his reputation. And money!
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Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.