You know what’s offensive (not to mention annoying)?
When you log into your neglected LinkedIn profile and see that some people seem to think it’s more of a dating service than the professional networking site it’s always been.
It’s one thing to reach out via social media (i.e. Facebook) to a friend of a mutual friend with an unapologetically flirty message (note: that can be creepy as well), and quite another to reach out via LinkedIn with compliments on personal appearance (unless the other person is a professional model), suggestive messages, or requests to take you on a date. I mean, at least pretend off the bat you’re actually interested in professional networking. Actually, just don’t use LinkedIn for that purpose at all. Ever.
One woman – 27-year-old Charlotte Proudman (the irony of her name cannot be lost here) – publicly put a 57-year-old guy in his place for doing just that.
The British barrister and Ph.D. student called out married lawyer Alexander Carter-Silk on Twitter after she got a LinkedIn mail from him complimenting her profile picture in a message aptly titled “Picture.” Apparently her “stunning” profile picture was the best he’d ever seen.
Proudman wasn’t exactly charmed.
Since her Twitter post, she’s been met with people praising her response to Carter-Silk’s message and sharing similar stories. Some Twitter users even claim to have switched their profile pictures to a less flattering one or one that hides their face to avoid such advances.
As for Carter-Silk, he has apologized for sending the message.
“Most people post pretty unprofessional pictures on LinkedIn, my comment was aimed at the professional quality of the presentation on LinkedIn, which was unfortunately misinterpreted,” he said in a statement sent to legal news website RollOnFriday.
“Ms. Proudman is clearly highly respected and I was pleased to receive her request to link up, and very happy to instruct her on matters which [are] relevant to her expertise that remains the position.”
Proudman refuses to accept his apology. She’s also been met with backlash by people who say she’s overreacting, can’t take a compliment, and should be blacklisted career-wise for potentially ruining Carter-Silk’s professional and personal life.
To be honest, while Proudman’s message was undoubtedly inappropriate (he has a daughter who’s Proudman’s age), it could have been a lot worse. I’ve experienced worse.
Either way, a lesson can be learned from all of this. Bottom line: treat LinkedIn the way you would treat a workplace.
And always keep in mind that social media is the harshest HR department you’ve ever encountered.