One of the things we talk about at every seminar, every media training session and every single retreat with anyone from front desk greeters to CEO’s is the inherent dangers of social media. There’s an entire segment of the program dedicated to the various social media elements and how they can permanently derail your career in seconds.
And from almost every seminar comes someone responding to these lessons with a line similar to, “are people really that stupid?” That is usually followed with “you wouldn’t have to tell ME twice about how this can snap back and bite me in the butt”. Although, quite often, there are more descriptive words than “butt”.
It all does provide a moment of levity.
Yes, people really are that stupid. And I’ll wager that even after seeing how misusing and abusing social media destroys lives and careers, 99.999% of people will completely forget the lesson and let their emotions get the better of them. Because in the end, it’s not entirely true that social media can wipe out an excellent reputation with one or a few keystrokes. Reality is something even simpler.
Emotion. Plain, simple human emotion. When it comes to crafting and caring for your image, emotion many times will be your undoing.
Unless you pay attention.
Here we have the “perfect storm”. An intelligent and social media savvy person who let their emotions get the best of them. Stunningly foolish in not understanding or even considering the repercussions of what she was writing and broke a simple rule of image and leadership.
Never let ’em see you sweat.
End result? A personal brand forever stained with the taint of one who thought she was untouchable.
Kelly Blazek earned the viral hammering she received from her thoughtless and incredibly foolish retort to a young job seeker who was merely seeking help in forwarding her career.
Harsh? Certainly. Nothing personal, either. This is business. This is your personal image and brand, what I teach every single day. Thus, I won’t cut corners on the truth. And I won’t, like some, stoop to blaming others for her misfortune.
Seeking to blame others for your mistake is the coward’s way out.
Cleveland job bank operator Kelly Blazek shamed after brutal rejection letters go viral
Once praised as a professional who ‘enjoys helping others,’ Kelly Blazek is under fire for her harsh responses to two job seekers looking to be admitted to her listserv.
By Sasha Goldstein / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Friday, February 28, 2014, 7:01 PM
The keeper of a Cleveland job bank online posting group is under fire after she ridiculed, embarrassed and trash-talked at least two job seekers who sought the woman’s help in getting admitted to the group’s email listserv.
Kelly Blazek, the group’s self-described “House Mother” and communications professional, has scrubbed all traces of herself from the Internet after the web erupted when her vitriolic emails went viral.
It all began when Diana Mekota wrote Blazek about her qualifications so she could use the listserv to find a job after relocating to the Ohio city from Rochester, N.Y., the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
Mekota also sent an “invitation to connect” on LinkedIn with the well-networked Blazek.
But Blazek, who once said she wanted her “subscribers to feel like everyone is my little sister or brother, and I’m looking out for them,” instead wrote back with a scathing email telling Mekota off.
“Apparently you have heard that I produce a Job Bank, and decided it would be stunningly helpful for your career prospects if I shared my 960+ LinkedIn connections with you — a total stranger who has nothing to offer me,” Blazek wrote to the John Carroll University graduate. “Your invite to connect is inappropriate, beneficial only to you, and tacky.”
The scorned Mekota posted the nasty letter to imgur.com, posted under the headline “Your humility lesson for the year from a ‘professional.’”
“Guess us twenty somethings should bow down to senior professionals because clearly we have nothing to offer,” Mekota wrote alongside her post.
The email quickly went viral — and sent Blazek, who won a local “Communicator of the Year” award in 2013, scrambling.
The contrite communicator sent the Plain Dealer an apology, writing, “My Job Bank listings were supposed to be about hope, and I failed that.”
“In my harsh reply notes, I lost my perspective about how to help, and I also lost sight of kindness, which is why I started the Job Bank listings in the first place,” Blazek wrote. “The note I sent to Diana was rude, unwelcoming, unprofessional and wrong.”
Blazek did do the right and only thing she could have done in response. She apologized for her rude and insulting comments. However, this is one of those rare occasions where even an apology won’t lessen the damage. That’s because Blazek didn’t do it just once, she did it twice. And that leaves the door open on her having done this numerous times before, only she was never caught in the act.
LinkedIn is a very different social community than Facebook or the others. It holds itself to a sometimes rigid standard of being about business connections and networking. It’s not for having fun, not about looking for hookups, and not about talking over the latest disaster with Brad and Angelina. The people there expect something more professional, and LinkedIn does protect that in several ways.
If someone is sending out random invitations and requests to join personal network pages, they will suspend that account. If someone with an account feels they are being contacted by people they have no connection with and no desire to connect with, they can report that person and LinkedIn may take similar action. It’s a very particular service.
I have a LinkedIn account and often receive invitations to connect from people I neither know nor have any shared connections with. But I take time to examine each and every invitation. Who knows? That person may be able to help me as much as I could help them. And if they are in a position to assist in my networking, so much the better. And if I find it to be spam or an issue, I report it and ignore it. My way of wading thru the invitations takes a lot less time than it took Blazek to write her “hate mail”, and it leaves behind no damage. To either party.
Diane Mekota gets chops here for taking an initiative. Seeking to further her career, she went for the top person she could think of and invited Blazek to connect. All Blazek had to do was turn it down, ignore it, or report it. It ends right there. No need to insult and assault in text. I have read several reports where the writers hand Mekota part of the blame for ruining Blazek’s reputation by taking the slams viral.
Ridiculous. Blazek had control, she was the professional, and she supposedly knew better. If she was as smart and savvy as she claimed, she would have known the dangers of such a response.
No excuse. Absolutely none.
This issue ruined Kelly Blazek’s career. She was never able to truly recover from the damage as everything here went viral and stained her image forever. Feel sorry for her being so punished for a mistake, but take heed.
Don’t pull a “Blazek”. Be classy in your responses to those seeking help. You were there once and know how hard it really was. And as my sainted Granny used to say, “If you don’t have something nice to say to someone, then don’t say anything at all”.
And if you’re seeking someone’s help in this networking world, also be classy about it. Don’t be pushy and be ready for a lot more rejection than acceptance. Maybe you won’t connect with someone the first, second, third or even 100th time out. But they may remember you, and may one day decide you’re worth the effort. And you may be the one who someday lends THEM a hand.
Protect your reputation and your brand with the same fervor and passion on the way up and when you reach the top.