No cold calls!!!

This is something that is one of my biggest pet peeves. I’ve written about this before. Because it keeps happening, I’m writing about this again.

I often get requests to connect from people I don’t know. I will only connect with people with whom I have some kind of established relationship. It’s so bad that I put this note prominently at the top of my LinkedIn profile.

If you want to connect with me, please indicate how we’re connected; otherwise, I will ignore or delete your request. I do NOT accept unsolicited connect requests from people I don’t know.

I especially hold a strong contempt for spam recruiters. For starters, I once had a bad experience with a spam recruiter. There are also many documented cases about spam recruiters being bad for professional development. And their queries are often downright insulting to me. They make absolutely no attempt to get to know me or what I want; all they do is look for buzzwords in my LinkedIn profile or resume. Any connect request I receive from a recruiter I’ve never heard of gets deleted immediately.

Granted, just because I don’t know you doesn’t mean I won’t connect with you. However, you need to give me a reason as to why I should connect with you. It doesn’t have to be much — even something as simple as, “I enjoyed (meeting/talking/listening/whatever) to you at (user group/activity/party/whatever). Can we connect?” is enough for me to at least acknowledge you.

There are a number of people who think that just because we have friends or groups in common that they can just connect with me. The fact is, if I don’t know who you are, and you don’t tell me how we’re connected, I will not connect with you. Just because we’re part of the same user group doesn’t mean I will connect with you. Several user groups and activities I’m in often have numbers of people whom I don’t know. You need to tell me we’re in the same user group. Do not make me have to work to figure out who you are.

I am very particular about this, especially in this day and age of identity theft and data security. It’s one thing to be asked a favor, but it’s quite another to be taken advantage of. There is a difference.

Networking is about relationships. Tell me what our relationship is, and I’ll be happy to connect with you, even if I don’t know you. But if you send me an unsolicited connect request with absolutely no indication as to how we’re connected, chances are I will delete or ignore your request. Don’t send me a cold-call connect request with no explanation as to how we’re connected and expect me to connect with you.

When does a request for info become spam?

I recently saw a post in a Facebook group that I manage for a user group to which I belong. She was brand-new to the group, having joined just hours (maybe even minutes) before she posted.

She turned out to be a recruiter. I won’t say too much about her because her firm is one with which I have a very good relationship. That said, I’d never heard of her, which made me wonder how new she was.

It also made me question her motives for joining the group. It’s one thing if she joined to become an active member of the group or to network, with which I have no problem, but it’s quite another if her sole reason for joining is to post online job solicitations — something with which I take issue. Since she seems new, I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt. I sent her a PM, explained my relationship with her firm, and asked if I could assist.

It made me think: when do job solicitations become spam?

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about recruiter spam, and, of course, I’ve written extensively about networking. Those of you who are inundated with recruiter emails or postings know how downright aggravating it gets. Unless we’re actively looking for a new position, we have no time or patience for responding to the deluge of messages about which we couldn’t care less. And it’s only once in a great while where we come across one that looks interesting enough to look into it further. And for those of you who think these things are harmless, I once had a bad experience with a spam recruiter.

I do give leeway if the message is from a recruiter or firm that I know. As I’ve written before, it’s about relationships and trust. If a recruiter that I know asks me if I know someone with a certain set of skills, I would be happy to refer someone to him or her, and I’ll be more likely to take their job search requests more seriously. But if the recruiter is someone I don’t know who cold-calls me asking for a referral, what do you think the chances are that I would give one? In all likelihood, slim to none.

So in my mind, the difference between a referral and spam is the relationship. If the person who posted that request already had a preexisting relationship with our group, I’d be happy to see the post. But that she posted nearly immediately after joining the Facebook group has me questioning her motives. Establish yourself before you go looking for favors.

Postscript: As I was winding up this article, the recruiter to whom I sent the PM responded to me, and in doing so, dropped the name of someone I know. I now trust her a bit more, and I feel a little more comfortable with her posting.

The view from another side

In the movie Dead Poet’s Society, there’s a scene in which the teacher, John Keating (played by the late Robin Williams) stands on his desk, making the point of how important it is to see things from another perspective.

I was reminded of this when I sat in on Mike Hayes‘ online presentation, “Blogging Rebooted.” Mike gave a very good presentation, as he always does, and he even gave me lots of props. (Mike, if you’re reading this, thanks for all the kudos! I will reciprocate when I do mine!) If you missed his presentation, a recording of it is available online. Go check it out!

Whenever I attend SQL Saturday (or any other conference, for that matter), I regularly make it a point to attend sessions that are similar to mine. I need to see how other presenters view whatever it is that I’m viewing.

Looking at the same thing from another angle is important for multiple reasons. It gives me a bigger picture of what I saw to begin with. It might give me ideas that didn’t occur to me. If another presenter touches upon the same points I make in my own presentation, it validates my own ideas. If (s)he offers points that are contrary to my own, it makes me reexamine my own view to ensure what I think is correct, or to make any adjustments.

In any case, I usually end up improving my own presentations and viewpoints, sometimes vastly.

So if you’re building a case, an argument, a presentation, or any other situation where you’re expressing your own viewpoint, also consider how it looks from another view. You’ll end up strengthening your own case in the process.

'Tis the season

I was looking at my calendar, and realized that Christmas is in less than two weeks. Dates in calendar are closer than they appear.

I was thinking about the holiday season this year and about what I’m doing. Alas, it appears that my Christmas will be somewhat subdued this year. This is the first Christmas since I was married that my father-in-law will not be around. My wife informed me that she will likely be working on Christmas day (such is life when you work for a newspaper). And I’ve told some people not to go nuts in terms of getting me presents. I’m at the age where I can pretty much buy whatever I want or need on my own, and asking for holiday gifts isn’t as meaningful as it was as when I was a kid. (That said, I do intend to get gifts for my siblings and my wife — not sure what, yet — and I also intend to spoil my niece and nephews.) In terms of a Christmas “gift” for myself, I told my wife that I’d like a vacation for both of us — where and when are to be determined. I have no shortage of places that I’d like to go. And it will likely not happen around Christmas. It might not happen until the summer.

This isn’t to say I’m doing nothing to recognize the holidays. I’m currently music-directing and accompanying a holiday community theater musical. My symphonic band performed their holiday concert earlier this week. I made a reservation for next week for a holiday happy-hour get-together for my work group. And speaking of work, my office will close (as it typically does) for a week around Christmas. It seems that my gift to myself is that my schedule will quiet down for about the next month. I’ve had quite the busy year, and I can certainly use the downtime.

So however you spend your holiday — whatever holiday it may be, whether it’s Christmas, Hannukah, Festivus, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, or whatever — I hope it’s enjoyable.

Saying final goodbyes

Yesterday, we laid my father-in-law to rest.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks since he passed away. My wife and her sister have been running around making arrangements, and it all culminated in his funeral service yesterday.

I wanted to do my part to contribute. I made it a point to make sure that I was there for my wife, our family, and anyone else who needed me.

I also wanted to say goodbye to my father-in-law in my own way. I asked if I could play the piano for his service, and my request was accepted. I offered to play for the entire service, but was told to just play for the meditation. My sister-in-law suggested Prayer of St. Francis and I’ll Fly Away for meditation pieces. I decided to cut the latter song, mainly for length reasons, but I also didn’t know it as well as St. Francis.

There was another reason: I wanted to play another song — my way of sending him off. I asked permission to perform it, and was told yes.

The song in question: Dust In The Wind.

I wanted to do something that was a part of me. The song is by my favorite band. It has always been a favorite song of mine, and it has some deep meaning. I’ve told people that I want the song performed at my own funeral; indeed, I intend to include it in my will as one of my final wishes.

It came off well. I put my heart into it. I’ve always been one to put on a show, but this show wasn’t for me; it was for my father-in-law. I had multiple people tell me after the service that I played beautifully, and it was a wonderful tribute.

We will all need to say goodbye to someone someday. When you do so, do it in a way that’s a part of you. That way, it will always be special.

Death and life

“Don’t hang on; nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky; it slips away, and all your money won’t another minute buy…”

Kansas, “Dust In The Wind”

I was working on putting together a ‘blog article in which I talk about how PASS Summit is only a few weeks away, my preparations, and other information that would be helpful for attendees.

Unfortunately, sometimes life — or in this case, death — gets in the way.

My father-in-law passed away last Thursday morning.

For the sake of respecting the family’s privacy, I won’t get into any more than that, but needless to say, my life has been upended a bit. With that, my ‘blog will likely be quiet for the remainder of this week, maybe until early next week.

Thanks for understanding, everyone. I’ll be back online soon.

Wanna play fantasy football with a bunch of data geeks?

The fantasy football league I play in is down a player, and we’re looking for someone to join us!

If you’re interested in playing against a group of database geeks, go to the SSC Fantasy Football forum here!

You do NOT have to be a database geek to join us!