Commit to Pay it Forward to Your LinkedIn Connections

by Kristin Lyon on August 15, 2012

In the weeks before a Presidential election Americans expect to hear many philosophical agendas.  These arguments will divide and unite groups of people in a multitude of ways.  But there is one idea behind which the Talent Acquisition community can easily unite – the Pay it Forward concept as it pertains to your LinkedIn connections.  Follow the Pay it Forward concept and you’ll reap increased dividends from your own LinkedIn presence.

In 2000, Warner Bros. released “Pay it Forward,” a movie in which an 11 year old boy looks at the world around him and seeks ways to fix what he doesn’t like.  He focuses on three principles to start the Pay it Forward movement.  First, the action must be something that really helps people. Second, it must be something the recipient can’t do by themselves. Third, once someone receives something “big” then they must do the same for three other people. (You can watch the original trailer here.

The idea wasn’t new to Hollywood, or to America. Both Benjamin Franklin and Ralph Waldo Emerson have been credited with speaking about the concept.  Nor was Pay it Forward a new idea to social/professional networks, as many were founded on the concept of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree connections. began in 1997 (shut down in 2001 with 1+ million members).  LinkedIn launched in 2003 (June 2012 reported 174+ million members with 70+ million in the US).  Facebook started in 2004 (May 2012 reported 900+ million members with almost 159 million in the US).

So why is it that after all this history both recruiters and candidates seem to have difficulty grappling with the idea of Pay it Forward on LinkedIn?

Ask yourself, “Have I ever clicked “I Don’t Know” or “Spam” or “Declined” when receiving a LinkedIn Connection Request (or InMail)?”  If you answered yes, I am going to assume that you did not know what happens when you choose one of those options.  Did you know that any of those choices make a negative impact on the author’s LinkedIn account?  Too many of those types of responses dramatically reduce the functionality of the sender’s account – hampering the ability to easily invite connections, join groups and send messages.  It can also reduce their number of available InMails.  To be blunt, you have contributed to the slow death of that person’s account.  This is especially concerning to me, when someone sends an introduction request to a colleague in the company and recipient selects “I Don’t Know” or “Spam” or “Declined.”  It’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face!

So how do you put the Pay it Forward concept into practice?  Simple!  The next time you get a LinkedIn message, take a moment to think about it.  Ignore the message if you must, or select “Archive.” which is neutral and does not have a negative impact on the user.

So Pay it Forward by consciously choosing to help protect others’ LinkedIn accounts.

To close – here is my Pay it Forward tidbit for EVERYONE using LinkedIn, not just Recruiters.  (Thanks to Jerry Miller, Recruitment Product Consultant at LinkedIn for this pointer.)  POST A COLOR HEADSHOT of yourself at LinkedIn.  There is a 40% higher click in rate for messages, invites and InMails sent from a profile with a headshot – and who doesn’t want a 40% higher click rate?

Kristin Lyon is the Sr. Director – Strategic Sourcing for the Modis Health IT division.  Kristin goes by the alias TNTMaven – *T*alent Acquisition, *N*etworking, *T*raining Maven (trusted expert who seeks to pass knowledge onto others).  You can connect with Kristin on LinkedInTwitterFacebook orGoogle+.

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