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Why It’s Not “Creepy” to “Stalk” People on LinkedIn

Career Advice |

One of my friends recently said to me, “I want to look up the woman I’m interviewing with on LinkedIn, but I’m nervous she will think it’s creepy.”

“Stop right there!” I told her, and I want all of you to repeat after me: LinkedIn is not Facebook.

The professional networking tool was specifically designed to connect people with one another, so you shouldn’t feel “creepy” contacting someone via the site. On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg and Co. know it’s “stalker-ish” to scroll through your ex-boyfriends tagged pictures — that’s why they don’t have the same notifications LinkedIn does. No one would utilize Facebook nearly as much if the person we “creeped” knew we were, in fact, creeping.

Similarly, if it was considered weird to check out people’s pages on LinkedIn, then its “People Also Viewed” feature wouldn’t be enabled, because then no one actually would use the site! In fact, potential employers often are impressed when they see you took the time to research and connect with them — and the story of how I got my job is proof of that.

I was part of a “Super Day,” which, for those of you don’t know, is when a company invites college graduates from all over the country to interview for entry-level positions. These Super Days are competitive and are usually the last round of interviews with the company’s top candidates. It’s important to stand out among the crowd, as most of the students there are competing for the same position. One of my strategies was to develop a sincere connection with the people I interviewed with, and a key tactic to achieve this was asking questions about their career. I know that people like to talk about past successes, and it would show I did my research while also giving me the opportunity to learn about my interviewers on a personal level.

My Super Day was going great and I felt confident, but I was starting to wear out after back-to-back interviews. My very last interview was with the chief sales officer of the company, and I knew I had to bring my A-game. One of the first things he said to me was, “You know, out of all of the interviewees we have here, you were the only one to look me up on LinkedIn. That’s impressive.” The rest of the interview was simply us getting to know each other. No grueling questions, just a simple conversation talking about his career and making a true connection.

A few weeks later, I heard I got the job. Of course, it took more than looking up my interviewers on LinkedIn to score the position, but it certainly helped me stand out, and also prepared me to ask the right questions.

So the next time you’re not sure if it’s considered creepy to look someone up on LinkedIn, take the risk and put yourself out there. Show that you’re interested in the company and the people who work there. Most important, don’t be shy about utilizing this amazing tool to ask the right questions and truly get to know your potential boss.

More often than not, it will be a risk you won’t regret taking.

What are your tips for connecting with people you don’t know on LinkedIn? Tell us in the comments.

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Topics

advice network linkedin

14 Comments

I'm curious what your opinion is on actually connecting with the HR contact over a position you want to interview for - do you recommend just looking them up on Linkedin, or actually connecting with them? If you choose to connect, which role would you recommend selecting in the "How do you know ____" (Colleague, Classmate, We’ve done business together, Friend, Groups, Other)? Finally, is it appropriate to mention on your message that you are seeking to connect about ___ position? Any other suggestions on what is best to say in your message?

3y

“You know, out of all of the interviewees we have here, you were the only one to look me up on LinkedIn. That’s impressive.” It's really interesting that he checked his LinkedIN to see if anyone had made the effort ! That makes sense in retrospect as when we hire here at Levo, we expect that the person come prepared with a basic understanding of the mission of our company, the players involved, and the latest updates on the company...

3y
Jada Black

Couldn't agree more--I find LinkedIn to be a very valuable tool and it's great resource to help connect people!

3y

I had a case of someone taking this to the next level, by trying to LinkedIn stalk on my behalf: The person in question sent me an email with a list of 20 people on LinkedIn within 2 degrees of me who worked at Company X. The person was applying to positions there and suggested that I reach out to folks on the list if I knew them. I didn't recognize any of the names. It felt a bit pushy to me, but how would you have reacted?

3y

This is so true! It's so obvious what LinkedIn's goal is but sometimes I think we all forget that not all social networking sites are created equal. People on LinkedIn WANT to be there and be connected with other professionals. I say stalk away! :)

3y

Couldn't agree more. I recommend professional stalking to all my friends. It's how I connected with:
1. My current mentor who went to the same college and who's parents live two blocks down from my parents.
2. Recruiters for Fortune 500 and ad agencies
3. Awesome LEVO office hour speakers

Yes. All on LinkedIn. People are very open to connecting with others on this platform and you have to get out there and ask! What's the worst that could happen? They say no? They don't reply? That's pretty much the worst.

3y

Not only do I love looking for people on LinkedIn, I love seeing who viewed my profile! If you do not have an upgraded account, I recommend trying it, especially if you are job hunting. Great to see who has come to "stalk" your profile!

3y

Couldn't agree more! When I was doing recruiting, I spent all day looking at candidates on linkedin. If i noticed someone viewed me that had an interesting background, I'd actually consider reaching out! Even just them looking was some indication that they might be open to chatting with me.

3y

I love the idea of Super Days! How can I hear about any near me? I like that you outlined LinkedIn as a tool for career reserach but Facebook is public (to who people to choose to share it with) and looking at anything there is not what I would consider "stalking" or "creeping".

3y

Excellent to know!

3y
Carly Heitlinger

I always wondered what the protocol for @LinkedIn was! Thanks!!!

3y

I know this from the other side too! I love seeing that potential candidates have taken the time to learn a little about me since I know all about them!

3y

YES! I am a serious LinkedIn stalker. Whenever I find myself asking that question, I try my best to snap out of it. Thanks for the reminder!

3y
Elana Gross

Another great article by Samantha Cooper.

I think that it is smart to look people up before you interview for a job - it is so important to do your due diligence.

You can also bet that your (hopefully) future employer is searching you as well so make sure your LinkedIn is updated!

3y
Samantha Cooper

Samantha Rae Cooper empowers young women to be the best versions of themselves in everything from their career to their personal style. Often described as the Carrie Bradshaw of Gen Y, Samantha has a first-hand understanding of the challenges and opportunities young women encounter today and provides mentorship and advice in a way that is fun, edgy, and non-traditional. As she tours colleges around the country, Samantha lives out her mission to help young women gain the confidence they need to achieve their dreams. Samantha is always seeking a good laugh, a statement necklace, and the latest issue of Lucky magazine.