About a week ago, I posited what I thought was a fairly innocuous question on LinkedIn:

LinkedIn question

It got a few interesting responses, which was great; I was, after all, asking a question. That was about a week ago.

Suddenly, over this past weekend, the number of views had crossed 10,000.

Oh my, I thought to myself. I guess this is hitting a chord with a lot of people.

Little did I know just how much.

Because, at the time of this writing, that innocuous question has garnered more than 50,000 views, close to 200 comments, and …

… a LOT of negativity thrown my way.

Including a death threat.

That’s right. A death threat. (I reported this to LinkedIn and it was immediately removed.)

It’s never pleasant to watch an internet pile-up, whether it happens to a stranger, a celebrity, a friend, or a family member … and it is unnerving, unsettling, and downright scary when it happens to you.

There are any number of passive-aggressive comments; quite a few out-and-out chauvinistic remarks; and while several people agree with my viewpoint, the haters and trolls have made me question whether or not I should delete the post entirely.

As I type this, I recognize the irony of that sentence. Because that is exactly what we’d counsel clients in the throes of a crisis not to do. 

But tell you what, when it happens to you – on your personal page, no less – you just want it to go away.

I believe I’m entitled to voice my own opinion on my own LinkedIn page.

Just like I believe they are entitled to their opinion, and should be able to express it freely.

There’s one big difference, though, between my original post, and some of the rude, insulting and downright mean responses.

When “expressing your opinion” means you start to denigrate others, use profanity, and maybe even threaten their safety … that is NOT cool.

That is not “expressing your opinion.”

That is cyberbullying.

I’ve spent much of the last few days replying as thoughtfully as I can, to as many people as I can. In many instances, they realize what my original intent was, and acknowledge that.

But at this point, it seems the haters are gonna hate.

So I’m not going to comment on that post anymore.

This is my response:

I stand by my original update, which was a simple question about something that is commonly acknowledged as a best practice in networking, building relationships, and social media.

The best sales people in the world will tell you that “networking” isn’t just about gathering business cards at an event and then adding those contacts to your email list, which is essentially what one is doing when blanket-connecting on LinkedIn (or any social network).

That is not a network. That is a bunch of loose connections on social media, which are simply building your Rolodex.

And your Rolodex, by itself, isn’t going to get you a job. 

True “networking” is taking the time to initiate, nurture, and develop relationships. And true relationships are built over time through mutual respect, connections, and trust.

That’s what I’ve done in the past, and that’s what I will continue to do. 

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps purpose-driven brands bring big ideas to life. She teaches at The Johns Hopkins University, has gone back to school herself with the Harvard Business Analytics Program, and is creator/lead instructor at The Social PR Virtuoso® online training hub , where ambitious PR pros learn how to unleash their inner Social PR superheroes. Owned by Lola the Basset Hound, she's mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

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