LinkedIn: The New Match.com?

STORY BY Jessica Elizabeth Pawlarczyk

Published: June 10, 2013

When I originally created a LinkedIn account, I intended to create professional relationships and broaden my rather small network of journalists.

Because I was still an undergrad, I didn’t spend too much time on the site, as I was busy doing other things, namely spending time on facebook. In my mind, I had plenty of time to establish connections and promote my resume to potential employers.

As a soon-to-be senior, however, I am now constantly using the site, requesting “connections” with other professionals in my field. When it comes down to it, my current preoccupation with the site is really my career advisor’s fault. At our last meeting, she asked to view my LinkedIn account to see how many “contacts” I had acquired over the years.

My cheeks immediately flushed when she read my measly number out loud: 126.

“That’s a great start, but you really need to work on expanding your network,” she told me. “I would do this stat.”

To make me feel even worse about my LinkedIn loser status, she then logged into her own account, which had 500+ connections. (For the record, 500+ is the maximum number of connections possible. After 500, it doesn’t matter if you have 501 or 1,000.)

After our meeting, I immediately logged into LinkedIn and made it my personal mission to hit that 500+ mark. After all, how hard could it be?

Overall, the process was surprisingly easy, where I allotted 15 minutes a day to surfing through the site and clicking the “connect” button like a madwoman. It didn’t matter if I knew the individual or not— I just wanted to add to my number of connections.

The fact that I decided to “connect” with several strangers (and I mean hundreds), proved to be both a smart and unwise choice. On the one hand, I received personal messages from others who viewed my profile and were interested in talking to me. Some were even nice enough to share their personal contacts in the media and marketing field!

On the other hand, I attracted some creepy men who were clearly not interested in making professional connections. I won’t publish some of the forward messages I received from these men, but believe me when I say the notes were not only forward, but also, extremely gross.

After accruing about ten of these romantic and/or lewd messages, it finally hit me: LinkedIn has become the new Match.com.

As some men feel ashamed or embarrassed by joining a dating site, they manage to avoid the stigma, by simply being creative with their LinkedIn account!

The only problem is that LinkedIn men seeking a relationship are really doing themselves more harm than good. First of all, they seem much more creepy messaging women who are clearly not seeking a boyfriend. At least on social dating sites, all members are on the same page, where they are all seeking a companion.

Second of all, men who use LinkedIn to improve their love life may endanger their professional reputation and the reputation of their work company. After Joe Schmo sends one too many inappropriate love messages, it is likely that one of his female targets will speak out. Of course, she can share Joe’s inappropriate behavior with Joe’s current boss— after all, LinkedIn profiles provide users’ work history, inclding their current employers.

To males who are seeking a relationship via LinkedIn, all I can say is that you should consider using the appropriate social outlet. Chances are, you will find the sort of “connections” you are truly looking for…. And one more thing: Don’t ever think you’re “too good” or “too scared” to use an online dating service. The times have changed, where the stigma of meeting your girlfriend via the Internet has disappeared completely. Perhaps this old stigma is quickly fading due to the fact that dating sites like Match.com have unbelievably high success rates that I just bet are incomparable to the world’s first-ever unlikely dating site: LinkedIn. 

Other Stories by Jessica Elizabeth Pawlarczyk
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