LinkedOUT: I understand. Really, I do. Do you?

Hint: the real problem is LinkSpam

I get a connection request almost every day now on LinkedIN. Look legit, professional, someone I’d like to know? No-brainer: “Accept.” So I don’t understand why LinkedIN tries to restrict you to connecting “only with people you already know well.” That would make LinkedIN, what, sort of a business yearbook for old friends? “Look, we all know each other. Now we’ve posted our resumes and headshot photos together.” Heck, I can do that right here on WordPress.

See, though, here is my thought on LinkedIN: it’s a social network. Social. Network. Or, if you like, a social business network. What could possibly be wrong with making new business (and business-like) connections? Wouldn’t LinkedIN seem to be a really good place to do it?

I think LinkedIN secretly understands this. Otherwise, why at every turn does it present me “People I may know” as an enticement to possibly connect?  Why does it create LinkedIN Groups where like-minded or at least like-interested people can come together to share thoughts, ideas, expertise, and contacts? Why does it offer an open search function so you can search…for people with common experiences…with whom you might like to connect on LinkedIN?

Yet my attempts to do the same thing people are doing with me on LinkedIN–connect with people who share my career field, interests, or areas of expertise–rubbed a few non-connectors the wrong way. This landed me briefly in LinkedIN jail with stern words about having “sent Connection requests to people I don’t know.” I was told I might see (and in fact, have seen) prompts to “enter recipient’s email address” to prove I know them.

Somehow I’ve managed to ford this river of hypocrisy and social disconnect to build a network of 1,200+ Connections on LinkedIN. Thank you to each and every one of you, not just for connecting with me, but also for not handing me over to the High Priests of Non-Connection in exchange for 30 pieces of social vaporware.

I’m also not the only one who thinks amassing a sizable LinkedIN network is a good thing. Earlier this year, a wonderful person named Stacy Donovan Zapar–whose LinkedIN profile reads, “Most Connected Woman on LinkedIn”–followed me on Twitter, and I followed her back. (Here we are on that social and increasingly business-y network.) Stacy and I have had some great dialogues, and I asked her just exactly how many LinkedIN Connections she has. Her answer? “The max allowed by LinkedIN: 30,000.”

First: stunning. Social media attainment of the highest order.

Second: What? LinkedIN caps Connections? Why? Server space? Finicky IT team at LinkedIN? Hmmm…

LinkedIN: the Dark Side
Okay, I see the dark side: in fact, I used to get more LinkedIN spam, or as I affectionately termed it, LinkSpam, than I ever get anymore in email. These “helpful”(!), often pushy messages emanated from semi-slime who found we were both part of the same LinkedIN Groups and used that as a pretext to pounce. I marveled at their latest harebrained, value-less, ethically-challenged, get-rich-quick Internet or multilevel marketing schemes.

LinkedIN: the Clueless Side
Done marveling, I next notified LinkedIN. Dialogued on Twitter. Dialogued by email, forwarding examples of LinkSpam. Mentioned LinkedIN’s maniacal “only connect with best pals” mantra and suggested it do something about the real problem, LinkSpam. Results? One or two non-committal, limp-wristed messages promising to muddle around about it. The LinkSpam continued.

LinkedIN: My Way
Clearly LinkedIN had no clue, plan, or concern about LinkSpam. So here’s what I did:

  • Sent happy little notes back to the rampant spammers telling them their LinkSpam was unwelcome, unprofessional, and unethical. Then deleted every last one of them from my LinkedIN Connections.
  • Accessed each of my LinkedIN Groups, unchecking my previous OKs for both Group Manager and Group Members to send me email.

The LinkSpam stopped.

I think trying to emulate Stacy, in terms of LinkedIN Connections and with respect to her other outstanding professional qualities, is a great idea. So: if you are a decent professional person, not looking to marketing-scam me, and want someone who will give you the same respect; if you think I’m the kind of person you would like to know and (egads) maybe even someday do business with in some context; I invite you to visit my LinkedIN profile, and let’s connect! (Shhhhh…please don’t tell LinkedIN.)

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4 Responses to LinkedOUT: I understand. Really, I do. Do you?

  1. stacyzapar says:

    Jeff, thanks so much for the incredibly kind shout-out! So glad to be following you on Twitter. Great post with great points and tips! 🙂

    • jeffcotrupe says:

      Honored to be connected with “the most connected woman on LinkedIN”…on any network, anywhere. You are a career and social media inspiration! Oh btw…i think a lot of people are starting to see this…and you wouldn’t believe how many LinkedIN connection requests I’ve accepted, just today, from people i did not know before. All nice business-oriented people, at least some of whom i know i’ll be in touch with from time to time.

  2. Jim says:

    Good observations, I have encountered much of the same myself. The fact is that LinkedIn continues to evolve their product and seems to try to address the concerns of their user community. By letting them know about situations like yours, they can continue to make changes to their product. Some of the recent changes have been good, some have not been so good….

    • jeffcotrupe says:

      Jim, thanks so much! Oh yeah, we all need to continue evolving…starting with me…and I think one example of LinkedIN’s evolution is the new Endorsement function that hits you when you land on someone’s LI profile. Pretty sure that is a response to the fact that many users are not writing fiends like my analyst colleagues and me, so a lot of people just were not going to take the time to write those longer-form LI Recommendations. This gives us all a faster/easier route to giving a tip of the cap on LinkedIN to people whose work we respect. On the other edge of the sword…let’s talk about the LI mobile app (at least on my current Android)…nahhh, let’s not.

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