I’m Open, But I’m Not THAT Open

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I’ve recently become much more open about accepting connections on LinkedIn…I’ve become a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker), if you will. There are several reasons for this:

  1. The challenge of asymmetrical relationships, of which I have an ever-growing number.
  2. My increasingly diverse business interests, which now include much more B2C, whereas I was traditionally B2B.
  3. The need to serve my B2C clients better.
  4. Everybody else is doing it, i.e., LinkedIn’s one-time promise of being purely a highly trusted referral network no longer exists. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If I can’t rely on a high degree of trust between my extended connections, there’s not much point trying to maintain my LinkedIn network to only those high-trust relationships. If I’m picking how to route an invitation request, I know who I really know and trust in that context and who I don’t. So, the game has changed, and as the old saying goes, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

That said, there are a few things that I’ve come across as I’ve become more open that I find problematic — things I see other people doing that I just simply won’t do, and won’t accept:

  1. Sending irrelevant marketing messages, aka “spam” – Connecting on LinkedIn doesn’t automatically mean I signed up for your mailing list. YES, you can send me an appropriate marketing message, telling me about your services — I have no problem with that. You can even ask me for support for your current charity drive or your new book that’s coming out, or whatever. But please DON’T send me an invitation to your networking event in New York City when I live in Austin, or a listing of the three properties your real estate firm has listed in Bangladesh. If you can’t take the time to figure out whether or not the message is appropriate for me, don’t expect me to. And at first I thought I would be polite and let people know, but a couple of times that I have, the person got really angry with me…basically like they were entitled to spam me. Now I just automatically disconnect — no questions, no comments.
  2. Asking me to open up my connections, and then getting upset with me when I don’t – I’m happy to make introductions, but I don’t open up my connections for browsing. Why not? Several reasons, but first and foremost because I’ve had a couple of bad experiences with people abusing it, or otherwise having a really bad result. If you want an introduction, ask me. But don’t expect to just drop my name and have that always give a good outcome. I once had one of my best friends contact another of my best friends directly because he was in a hurry and couldn’t reach me, and the result was disastrous. One of them ended up thinking the other was arrogant and presumptuous, and the other thought the first was overly forward, bordering on inappropriate. Had I been able to make the introduction, I’m sure everything would have been fine. And of course, with me now connecting more openly, I’m definitely NOT OK with anyone and everyone I connect to using my name and saying, “I’m a friend of Scott — let’s connect.”
  3. LION in your name – Really, please, don’t use the name fields for anything but your name. Doing so breaks contact management systems, or at least creates work for other people to keep the data clean. Put it in your “professional headline”, like I do. It will still show up in searches, and will still be readily visible to other LIONs. I won’t refuse to connect from people who do this — it’s just annoying.

What about you? Are you a LION? Where do you draw the line? For some more ideas, check out Lori Ruff’s series on the Top Ten Annoying Behaviors of People on LinkedIn.

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  1. Hi Scott, we need to have a clear goal in order to use Linkedin. If our goal is become a virtual networker, we may need to be LION on Linkedin, otherwise, we don’t have to.

  2. Sadly I agree that Linkedin is changing and becoming more an open site with only loose connections between those “connected”. And it’s generally accepted anymore that it’s fare game to politely ask anyone to connect with you. And of course that’s resulted in spammers and such increasingly becoming a problem just like all the other social media sites.

    And Linkedin shows no sign of doing anything but allowing this kind of thing to continue. The latest example of this is the rating system they have set up for giving people recommendations. It’s totally open and allows the giving of multiple kudos to anyone you’re connected to. So as one writer said Linkedin is becoming more like Klout than the old Linkedin we knew.

    So apparently Linkedin has decided to sell out and become just another social media site full of fake accounts, spam, and meaningless ratings. And of course their is little we can do about it beyond try to keep Linked relevant to who we are and what we do.

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