When Online Networking Crosses the Line

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When Online networking crosses the line

Online Networking

I have spent many years building my professional network.  This network includes individuals for whom I have great respect and with whom I have worked or spent time.   It also includes several people who are contacts I have made via social media; many of whom I have not officially met in real life.  There are numerous professionals through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Top Recruiter, RecruitingBlogs.com, the Recruiting Animal Show, HR Tech, SHRM, and the numerous unConferences I have attended over the last 7 or 8 years.  Many have become part of a trusted circle of individuals that I classify as friends.  I know – quite interesting that many I have never met and yet – they are my friends.  

Online  Trust

In such a short time, many of these people have become important to me.  In a matter of a few short years, I have come to consider many of them dear friends and have developed a level of professional trust that supersedes any  I have ever felt before.  I know this comes from the information share and easy exchange which social media allows.  I am lucky enough to be someone who loves my work, who cherishes the work and business relationships I have developed, and who looks forward to the daily barter and banter that has become such a rich and important part of my work life.

Online Professionalism

Over the years, I have tried to remain as professional online as possible and have reaped the benefits.  Oh sure, there are the occasional slips (some actual mistakes – others calculated) on the Recruiting Animal Show, when I let – because of my passion for either individuals, business practices, the recruiting industry or jobs market – my feelings get hurt by a very well-placed outburst or searing jab.  I am a woman who likes to talk and can find humor or a gap where humor is needed rather spontaneously and I am eager to fill it.  Even through all of that good-natured fun, I try to maintain a certain amount of decorum and fulfill my end of the bargain; have interesting information, education, and/or questions delivered in an interesting way.

 Online Assaults

When you put yourself out there, it is easy to feel assaulted, even cyber-assaulted when someone crosses the line In the past, I have received messages from “fellow members” of professional networks who decided it was all right – above board – acceptable to send me degrading messages of an unkind or lewd nature.  It’s not acceptable, at any time, not on a professional network – it isn’t a dating site or a lonely hearts club.  I suppose I could have let those incidences go.  I could have ignored them.  But I have to say, I felt violated.  Like someone had come into my home and rummaged through my stuff, stood in my shower, or tried on my clothes.  It wasn’t, it isn’t good, clean fun.  It’s degrading and debasing.  It is not professional and it is not for me nor do such messages or inferences have a place in an online professional forum.  These incidences are why harassment guidelines and laws were made long ago.

Online Idiots and Fools

As a mother of four who has worked her butt off to produce a huge portfolio of online work.  I put myself through school to be able to provide better for my children.  I love the industry where I work and what it has taught me and brought to my life.  If I had received these messages on MySpace years ago, I think I could let it go and just hit the delete button.  But it is a different place and time.  There is no click, delete, and/or ignore.   Idiots and Fools worm their way in and reside everywhere, in every forum, in every profession.   Idiots who think professional networks like LinkedIn, FB,or Twitter are Tramp.com and Fools who think that a really bad pick up line will work – ever – should move on.   There is no room for fools or idiots – if it didn’t work at the dive bar where you first tried it, it’s probably not going to work online either.  Leave.  It’s ok, shoo… you won’t be missed.

Be a positive online contributor.

Or don’t.  It’s like that old line, anyone can be a father, it takes a real man to be a dad.
Or just like cancer, sometimes you just gotta Cut. It. Out.                Ba-bye….




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  1. Thank you, Rayanne! Recently, I had to deal with some of what you’ve written about. It made me so angry and caught me completely off guard. I believe in being a positive influence on and offline … and to be “bullied” online by someone doesn’t even know me was quite upsetting. You have to have a thick skin sometimes! It’s a good reminder to all that if you wouldn’t say something to a person’s face, don’t post it online. And, in the end, the “idiot-fool posts” will reflect more negatively.

    shannonsmedstad |
  2. Ate every possible opportunity, online idiots should be called out. Not least because everyone else is keeping their heads down, and hoping someone else will do it. Be that someone, I say.

    And if I’m ever the one being an idiot or inappropriate, please call me out on it; you’ll be doing me a favour.

  3. Nice one Rayanne.

    I’ve also noticed that some folks have come to see the web as a place where normal standards of civilised behaviour don’t apply, for reasons I don’t quite understand.

    If you don’t have anything nice to say, well, you know.


  4. Rayanne – Thanks for pointing out a growing problem with online networking. Online communication doesn’t have the emotional component that is part of face to face interactions. As a result, many people sometimes say things that they would never say to someone in-person.

    When we’re speaking online, I think it’s important to be cognizant of the people on the other end of the messages. They are people with feelings, and deserve respect.

  5. Rayanne,

    You know my thoughts on this. And I think that people are surprised when they attack you, me and a number of others online or doing something swarmy that we actually comment, engage, and fight back.

    I hate anonymous attacks where the person drives by and leaves spewing anger, negativity, and just bullshit. When the first time this happened it hurt, ALOT, but then a magical thing happened, my community came to my rescue and supported me.

    There are a lot of things I didn’t consider when I started this blog and thought about putting yourself out there. A number of people don’t respect the hard work that it takes to build connections, relationships, and content online. Many look at you seeing opportunity to “tap into” your network for the purposes of blatant self-promotion. I’m always surprised when they do that and then get defensive when are called out for their actions. I had this conversation with someone yesterday. A woman I have no relationship with sends me private message on Facebook suggesting I give some multi-level marketing makeup and cream product a try. I have no relationship with this woman. I look at her profile and she is selling 4 different products. I see how she works. I send her a polite but direct message saying, “I get these a lot and I’m not your pot of gold. I’ve written a blog post after I got a number of these pitches, you can take a look …. I would and can buy this product form someone I know.”

    She says I should be flattered she thought of me. Whatever. Kinda like I’m flattered of the email link bait I get from bots begging me to retweet, blog, or share about their bot generated websites. I’m done being flattered after the first time I went to what I thought was a potential client meeting and it was a MLM sales pitch. My time is valuable and so is my networking and expertise. I’m not holding back anymore so I share in the hopes that they learn.

    Networking is hard. Giving to the internet or to karma not knowing what you will receive in return is even harder. There is no 100% money back guarantee but those that take the risk and put in the time are rewarded and handsomely.

    There is no shortcut for success. Do the work. Great post, Rayanne.



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