Dustin Wheeler

Dustin Wheeler
Dustin is a technology-driven CPA in Orem, Utah.

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My LinkedIn Connection Dilemma

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I have a little debate going on in my head about who should be included in my LinkedIn network.

LinkedIn seems to suggest that connections should represent a “real-world” network and be limited to trusted friends and colleagues.  I have discovered, though, that some people are looking to connect to everybody.  Some even go so far as to have LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) or “I accept all invites” in their headlines.

I have received several invitations to connect from people I don’t know with the standard message ,”I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”  I haven’t accepted them.  Are these people really interested in connecting with me?  If they are, why don’t they call me to introduce themselves, invite me out to lunch, or at least send me a personalized message?

I think that most LIONs are just seeking as many connections as possible without the intent of getting to know them.  What is their motivation?  I can think of a few advantages of being an open networker:

  • On the surface, they appear to be really popular – most have 500+ connections.
  • Their news feed (status updates, blog posts, etc.) is broadcast to a large number of people.
  • They are more likely to rank higher in search results as a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level connection.

Those advantages may sound great, but are they really beneficial?  I doubt it.  Their LinkedIn networks are made up of a bunch of useless connections.

I am not an open networker on LinkedIn, but  I am open to networking and meeting new people.  I just don’t think that extending an invitation to connect on LinkedIn should be the first step in the process.

Then again, sometimes I wonder if I am missing out on potential business opportunities by not connecting to everyone on LinkedIn.  The little devil on my left shoulder makes a tempting argument, but I’m siding with the little angel on my right shoulder.

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5 comments to My LinkedIn Connection Dilemma

  • Kara Haas

    I have been facing a similar dilemma. LinkedIn was the first social media site that I joined, but is the one that I am least active. I have found a similar phenomenon with facebook. I only recently started on twitter, and found that to climb the charts of my favorite arena. In fact, it is where I found you! (which by the way, you just made my ‘genius list’ if you weren’t there already) To paraphrase an eloquent tweet, that I cannot recall the author…”Facebook is where you are friends with people that you do not like and twitter is where you wish you could meet everyone that you follow.”

    To add to that observation, much of my LinkedIn observations of the LIONs, seem to be people who heard it was a good idea to get into social media, but not exactly sure what to do. So the yield tends to be a popular people with nothing to say. Of course, I am connected to a few ‘in your face’ people that have something to say on LinkedIn and shout it successfully. Most days, my entire stream is filled with Joe added Susie as a connection.

    One additional dilemma, if we connect with all of the same people in each social media venue, do we risk being boring or in your face, if we share the exact same content in all channels? Do we have any sense of control or understanding of our respective audiences?

  • I have to agree with Kara’s last point. I’m using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn but in three different ways. Facebook is an entirely personal exercise. I am not connecting with anyone there who I do not interact with primarily outside of work. LinkedIn is really just a “work” network (and like Kara – one I do not spend as much time on).

    Twitter is the interesting hybrid. I want to provide good information to my followers on things that interest me both in and out of work. I use TweetDeck which allows me to post to any one or any combination of the sites. Only rarely does something fit on all three. I don’t have large audiences on any of the the three but I don’t think I have tremendous overlap so I feel I still have control over who sees what.

  • I think that the social media opportunities are like most things in life. Lots of people use them for lots of different things. You just have to find what works and go after it.

    For example, LinkedIn has become a tremendous marketing tool for me. I also use it to network, but their new groups feature makes it an amazing way to market my websites. Certainly I add people I barely know. In that case I just try to make sure that they’re marked appropriately as to how they know me (ie. member of a LinkedIn group).

  • @Kara I try to vary the content in each social media channel. Only a few are broadcast to all of them, such as those announcing new posts from this blog.

    @Jeff Facebook is a mix of business and personal for me. I organize friends into lists. Business contacts receive business related posts while friends and family receive other types of posts. I rarely share an update or link with the default of “all friends.”

  • Dustin,

    i think you are very wise to think about which strategy is comfortable for you with your connections. But I do think that everyone is different and so what suits you may not suit everyone. I am a dedicated open networker and LION, and very happy to be so.

    I just passed 7000 connections – but is that important ? Well for me it works. 7000 first level connections brings me 1.7 million second level connections and a silly number for third level.

    Second level connections are where I target for new connections, and I never invite anyone, they invite me, and I always accept.

    First level connections is where I develop relationships, one person at a time, in a targeted way by sector and geography, and also by the way people choose to communicate with me.

    And why ? Well because it produces business, it did when I was in an accountancy firm, and it still does today.

    For me what works is balancing open networking with targeted relationship building.

    In a free online training course I show people the 8 foundations of networking and how to develop your LinkedIn profile, this gets you started with making LinkedIn work for you.

    PS I also organise Facebook friends into lists, and likewise connections on LinkedIn and Twitter. These Lists are consistent across all platforms, and also in my CRM package.

    Phil

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