I joined LinkedIn about five years when one of my colleagues joined and invited me to sign up. Because I am gregarious and have worked with hundreds of people over the years, I accumulated over 625 connections.
But over the past couple of months, I have begun to re-think why I had many of these connections. I came to realize that I was connected to former colleagues I haven’t heard from in years and have made little or no contact with me in the intervening years since we worked together. I wondered, what is the value of these connections?
LinkedIn is a network built on trust. Well, that’s what it was supposed to be. Unfortunately, there are many who amass connections with anyone who will connect back, almost like anonymous sex. You connect with me, I’ll connect with you. Never mind that we don’t know each other, and that we live 9,000 miles apart, have nothing in common, and will never, ever meet in our entire lives, nor do we have ANY common acquaintances. That’s not trust, that’s just adding points to the score card. So what? So what if you have 8,000+ connections. Do you really know and trust all of those people? I don’t think so.
Linked In Open Networkers (LIONs) is the term for people who connect to anyone who will ask. While they believe that what they’re doing is good, they’re actually hurting all of the legitimate users who follow the rules and connect to people they actually know.
Further… connecting with people you don’t know is a direct violation of the LinkedIn terms and conditions. Not that anyone notices, but doing so only dilutes the experience for everyone. LinkedIn is supposed to be about webs of trust, where I can trust your connections because I trust you. But if I don’t even *know* you, how can I possibly trust you, not to mention your connections, who are unknowns of unknowns?
Sorry for my rant. So if you used to be connected to me and you aren’t any longer, don’t take it personally. I probably didn’t know you much in the first place, or perhaps not at all.
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Apparently I’m not alone. Many others are disgusted with LinkedIn open networking:
You had me then you lost me (better for the comments than the rant itself)
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I have reported various types of abuse to LinkedIn Customer Service over the past few years. Every time, they say, “yeah we know about it,” which now makes it clear to me that their priorities are on the numbers, not the value. There is a market opportunity here for another business networking play that will figure out how to only accept links with people who are actually *known*. What a concept.