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Social Networking and Prospecting: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Terry Brock, MBA

I opened the email that said I had “won 35 MILLION DOLLARS” (yes, the email used all caps for that screaming at me effect!). It was about a lost bank account and they just wanted me — because I’m an honest person, of course —- to help them transfer it to my bank account. It was signed by some important-sounding guy with a fancy title in Nigeria.

Maybe you’re familiar with this Nigerian gentleman.

It has now become an old joke in the Internet community about the “guy from Nigeria” who is offering huge money to unsuspecting Internet users. In Lagos and other cities in Nigeria they call this “419” and they don’t mean an area code in Ohio. This is the section in their law referring to this type of scam.

The saddest part is that there are still some people who open this email, believe it and send their bank account numbers to these thieves hoping against hope that money will come to them because they are a “nice person who can be trusted.”

Most of us have realized you don’t even want to answer these notices as they only create havoc. It is better to ignore and exercise your God-given, Thomas Jefferson-sanctioned right to use that wonderful “delete” key on the keyboard.

Yet, I’m seeing similar behavior on Social Networking sites. Only this time, instead of asking for your bank account number, they want to take your precious time, perhaps some money and lots of your effort that you should devote to building your own business relationships.

Recently I spoke with a friend about a mutual connection we had here in town. I’ll call this connection “Arnold” (not his real name). It seems that Arnold is regularly trying to do the social networking thing “connecting” with everyone he meets, “friending” them (boy, have we desecrated that word!), and “linking” to them on all the various social networking sites. My friend commented that she had the same experience with “Arnold” as the pushy salesman trying to force his way on everyone. Arnold has developed a reputation for taking advantage of Social Networking (both online and offline) and just pushing his stuff on others.