Going on a LinkedIn Diet

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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.

* * *

Apparently I’m not alone. Many others are disgusted with LinkedIn open networking:

Not the way to use LinkedIn

Redefining my use of LinkedIn

Are you connected – or just linked?

You had me then you lost me (better for the comments than the rant itself)

* * *

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.

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2 thoughts on “Going on a LinkedIn Diet

  1. Hungarian

    Hello there,

    Thank you for sharing, I wish there was more awareness among people of the dangers of all these “useful” tools on the web, most of which is just for making someone extremely rich, not caring for the consequences of the effect on people’s lives. And I am not just talking about people who surf the web, much rather of people who do NOT..
    I happened to stumble across your writing by googling “LinkedIn abuse” after I ran into something ridiculous regarding the system LinkedIn works along. Which, by the way, goes for all similar networking sites, due to the anonimity and ease of access to the worldwide web.

    My story shows that it can go further than just a “nuisance” or lack of real use.

    I lost my job some weeks ago and someone (most likely an employee from my last company whose salary had been reduced as an effect of the company crisis or any former employee I had to make redundant, due to the same crisis which eventually made me redundant as well..) has taken to abusing LinkedIn and registering under my name, with the only difference of one letter in the spelling of my name, which I had registered with originally.
    In fact, the international spelling of my name is what the person used, thus if someone from a multinational is googling me or looking me up in LinkedIn, the fake name will come up first, not my real account.

    In Hungarian, we have 9 more characters in our alphabet, on top of the english alphabet, which are just different formats of the letters “a”, “e”, “i”, “o” or “u”. We put these little accents and double-dots on top of the letters, thus the pronounciation is totally different (e.g. “á” differs from “a”, “ö” from “o”, etc.). It is common in the world in many languages, LinkedIn however does not seem to bother taking this into consideration for avoiding abuse..
    Which is remarkable, as about 75% of people in my personal social networking circle have at least one of these odd characters in their names, 50% of them have two of these letters, which means FOUR different possibilities to register at LinkedIn for HALF of the Hungarian population! Imagine how much work this would mean for their Service Support if people start reporting abuse..
    Not to mention: how do they know who the real Mr X. is?? Do I need to send a copy of my passport???

    Now, this individual is trying to make my life miserable, as (s)he has indicated that I have filled a position with a competitive firm versus my previous firm. Of course this will not have any legal implications for me, as I obviously do not work there. It does pose a potential threat to me though when applying for new positions or if this person is putting in new information.

    By the way, did you know that in Hungary the number of registered members of our major networking site (iwiw) has reached 4 million this January, about 40% of the population? Considering Internet penetration has not even reached this number in the country (34% in 2007, should not be more than 40% currently), it does pose some remarkable questions on the registration purety of the site.
    Another interesting information: it is one of the only “national” social networking sites in the world, which is not only “invite-only” (so you need someone to invite you to be able to join), but here you have to ask for PERMISSION FROM THE SERVICE DESK before you can send an invitation to anyone to become a member! This can take up to WEEKS.. (I just requested an invite for my aunt, who is 67: no reply yet since 17 days now..)

    Now tell me: what can I possibly do to avoid anyone misuse of my personal information, if a provider like this does not care to protect people’s privacy, even of those who are not even registered??..
    I agree it would be a costy feature to have everyone give a (home) mailing adress and send a (snail mail) letter physically with access codes and so on, to make sure it’s not some kid in a Philippines registering as former CEO of a Swedish firm, just for the fun of it, but let’s just think for a minute: would the profits not justify it?.. What is the profit loss in a letter? Exactly: the potentially missed opportunity. I’ve not seen many providers raising their barriers high, that’s for sure..

    The problem is not what the system does not do, what it lacks.
    The problem is the damage it does. When talking about people’s jobs, there is nothing worse than irresponsible “gadgets” on the Web, “for the common good”.

    Good luck with the site!

    Reply

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