She’s attractive, stylish and sophisticated. She’s intelligent, she’s educated, she serves her community, she is successful and savvy, and she understands social media in a way you guys just don’t. And can’t.
She’s Attractive—Connect. Accept.
Men invite her to Connect on LinkedIn with an instantaneous “Connect” or accept her invitation with a swift “Accept.” Why? They have no idea other than that she is pretty. Are they interested in knowing more about her? Maybe, if they are hoping to recruit her or potentially ask her out. Otherwise, probably not.
I know many women who play significant roles in business development for professional services firms and they are strong, smart and self-confident. They are also attractive. They can open doors their male counterparts may not be able to. That’s clear. There is no doubt that they can manage the business conversation. They are formidable, high-contributors in their organizations. Should they hide their faces? Absolutely not. Should they be bothered with men seeking them out because they are “pretty?” Absolutely not.
I’ve listened to women share these stories and now, I hear even more stories of how women are faring on social media and even LinkedIn. If you read our blogs, you know that we don’t consider LinkedIn social media so this makes this even more unnerving. You know that we also advocate having a great professional photo on your LinkedIn profile (the operative word is professional). So, yes we may be encouraging the superficial “I always connect with pretty girls” attitude. We also encourage substantial content— the professional story each person can bring to their LinkedIn profile to build their professional brand, create competitive advantage and further their career journey.
Recently, I had a conversation with a senior member of a leadership team who had hired a young, smart woman for business development. She is using LinkedIn to research, connect the dots and set up appointments. She understands how to use LinkedIn well. Her profile is good, not great. Her background is impressive. Her photo is fabulous—professional and approachable. The funny part is that now all of the guys in her office want to know how they can use LinkedIn better. They want what she has.
Sorry guys; not sure that will or can happen.
This is just one example that has prompted several conversations with women and men alike around this topic. Some days these stories amuse me (the ones where women are using LinkedIn to start a good business conversation and business relationship) and other days they infuriate me. Mostly, these stories strike a chord that I think demands more conversation and thought.
Think I’m making this up? Well, when there is a list like Listal’s The Hottest Women on LinkedIn, you will see that others are thinking about this too.
During a training session a couple of years ago, one man commented on how exceptionally good looking my network was. Really? I hear from some men that they like to connect with attractive women; it’s often how they decide whether to connect at all. This incenses me.
Everyone has an attractive young woman in their network. Go to her profile and notice the “People Also Viewed” section to the right. Is that list comprised of other attractive women? If so, it may lead you to believe that guys are looking for good looking women. And, yes, this one also infuriates me.
What does LinkedIn think about this? In 2013 when TopTal’s LinkedIn ads were taken down, seemingly because of the images they chose. LinkedIn says that the ads were not taken down for the images but you can’t help but think they were. And perhaps, rightfully so. Today, Florencia Antar’s photo looks quite a bit different. I have no knowledge of why. Interesting though, eh? In both, she is beautiful and in each she conveys a distinctly different impression. Regardless, it seems to me that she is smart and has great professional experience.
There is more than an element of truth to this, when professional women take the time to write posts like Please Don’t Hit On Me on LinkedIn, or Ashley Olson, an accomplished marketing professional, creates a website called Social Creeps or Meghan Casserly tackles the issue in her article, Is LinkedIn The New Dating Hot Spot, Or A Breeding Ground For Harassment?.
I don’t claim to know all the answers and I know there are only a few absolutes, human nature being what it is. I do know that as a professional woman who works with fabulous, smart women everyday and is the mother of three beautiful daughters, I want women to voice their thoughts on this issue. I prefer parity. As my husband says, it’s best to be a humanist, not a feminist or a chauvinist.
As women looking to build our professional brand and career, we should:
- Claim all of our God-given gifts— brains and beauty.
- Be professional—no need to go matronly or tawdry. The Biggest Mistakes You Can Make When Choosing A LinkedIn Photo
- Let’s not exploit ourselves—intentionally or not.
- Develop our professional story with relevant, up-to-date content that substantiates our experience.
- Connect with people we know—be selective.
- Connect with others who are within our network—hopefully men will be less likely to hit on women if there are several mutual connections.
- If we are in business development we need to demonstrate our knowledge and skill. We need to manage the conversation well.
Specific to LinkedIn, consider some additional steps:
Report the invitation or message to LinkedIn
From your LinkedIn Inbox Messages, report the message as spam
In the Profile area, go to Edit your public profile
Deselect what you don’t want to be shown on the Search Engines
Go to the Communications tab
Select Types of messages you’re willing to receive, be selective
For the men who are annoying attractive women on LinkedIn, here are two simple suggestions: get back to work and behave yourself.
Women occupy more than 51 percent of all workers employed in management, professional, and related occupations, somewhat more than their share of total employment (47 percent). Do these women need to be hassled on LinkedIn too? They’re busy enough, let them get their work done.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Give us a shout, won’t you? In the meantime, check out our other posts on LinkedIn best practices and quick tips.