December 2, 2013

Join My LinkedIn Gang-Bang!

Filed under: Job scams, Job Search, Making money, Q&A, Readers' Forum, Stuff I worry about

In the December 3, 2013 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader wants to join my network:

I wanted to send you a LinkedIn invitation to connect, but I noticed on your LinkedIn profile page that you only accept connections from people you already know. How can you expand your network if you don’t want to meet new people? I respect your policy, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. I could introduce you to people you can do business with. What’s wrong with that?

Nick’s Reply

gang-bangPlease check my LinkedIn profile again. It’s changed since you last looked. Send me that request — I’ll accept it.

My profile used to say: “Don’t ask me to join your LinkedIn network if we don’t know one another or if we haven’t done business together.”

That was a lofty standard, and one I maintain in the real world.

If you don’t get it, think about it this way. If I get a call from an employer (or any business person) that wants to check your references, I need to know what I’m talking about, right? If I don’t know you well enough to give you references, why would I accept you as a LinkedIn connection? We’d both look like idiots.

But that was then, and this is now

Welcome to the new world of LinkedIn b.s. connections, where phony relationships are the coin of the realm and everyone can pretend to know one another.

In the real world, I have standards. On LinkedIn, I’ve deleted my aforementioned linking policy, because there are no standards. (I know a guy who has 118,000 connections. He’s an idiot, and the “influencer” articles he posts are as phony as his relationships.)

So, send me a connection invitation. I don’t care who you are any more than LinkedIn does — I’ll connect, because it means about as much as being in the old Ma Bell phonebook, or being findable on Google. Everybody’s already connected “because they’re in there.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love LinkedIn. It’s the best online phone book ever assembled. It’s incredibly nice to be able to look people up.

But I propose that LinkedIn do away with connections altogether, and just let users query the system when they want to get in touch with any other member, without pretending there’s a pre-existing relationship. Even LinkedIn seems to think there’s nothing special about your (or my) connections. It doesn’t care which button you click when you invite someone — colleague, classmate, friend… the system lets you fib.

My subversive agenda

In fact, a class action lawsuit filed recently in San Jose federal court says that LinkedIn doesn’t even recognize the value of contacts. The litigants claim LinkedIn hacks new members’ e-mail accounts and appropriates their contacts — to advertise LinkedIn, to get new members, and to implement the company’s mission. (LinkedIn refers to this as “new growth optimization efforts.”)

So, who am I to tell you I won’t accept your link requests? I do admit to a subversive agenda. If we all connect to one another, then we don’t need to pay LinkedIn for access to people outside our connections, and LinkedIn can’t block any of us from using its network the way it uses its our e-mail lists: To make money.

According to Bloomberg, LinkedIn programmer Brian Guan spilled the beans on his own LinkedIn profile. He describes his job as

“…devising hack schemes to make lots of $$$ with Java, Groovy and cunning at Team Money!”

“Team Money” used to be a business network with standards that rose above, say, those of Facebook. It was, after all, a place for business people to transact business. But LinkedIn started cashing in its chips even before it did an IPO, and now it’s just one big data gang-bang. LinkedIn has signaled clearly that it’s just in it for the money — and any semblance of exclusivity, or integrity about connections, or concerns about members’ welfare is gone.

Here’s what led me to my decision to open up my network

  • LinkedIn charges for Premium membership, but users say there’s no need to pay a fee to access the most useful feature — viewing profiles.
  • LinkedIn expert Jason Alba agrees: “The most important thing is to have a really solid profile. If you want, you can walk away after that. People will still find you.”
  • If you haven’t noticed, all LinkedIn seems to do any more is sell. Its sales force grew from 207 reps in 2010 to 1,822 this year, but where’s the investment in network benefits to users?
  • LinkedIn recently issued $1 billion in new stock. Some might see growth; I see somebody trying to cover the costs of an unsupportable sales operation.
  • LinkedIn recently opened the doors to 13-year-olds. The company says it’s “so they can make the most informed decisions and start their careers off right.” (That must have something to do with the Profitable Child Labor discussion group, eh?) Gimme a break. I think it’s so LinkedIn can tap the teenage data set, which is now worth around $300 billion in the U.S. alone.

LinkedIn is the new TheLadders, the world’s last failed “exclusive” network of businesspeople. Both companies have thrown the doors open to anyone and everyone, after making highfalutin’ representations about “networking.”

  • Both companies are now the subject of consumer class action suits.
  • Both companies are manned by the same people who invented the “churn ‘em and burn ‘em” model of the job boards — alumni of HotJobs and Monster.com.
  • And both companies tout the value of high-quality “connections” while de-valuing those very connections. (Endorsements, anybody?)

Join my LinkedIn Gang-Bang!

It doesn’t matter whether we know one another or have done business together. Send me your LinkedIn invitations, and I’ll accept them. No offense to you but, like LinkedIn, I want to use my connections to make money — and so do you. Unlike LinkedIn, I do have scruples — I’ll never sell your data to advertisers. But keep in mind that what I do with your data doesn’t matter. LinkedIn will sell our data to anyone that will pay for it. We’re all in the phone book, after all.

My only quandary: As a parent concerned with my own children’s safety, what do I do when 13-year-olds start asking me to connect?

What’s your take on LinkedIn connections? Do you limit your list, or is it a gang-bang like mine? Just how much b.s. will people pay for?

: :

44 Comments on “Join My LinkedIn Gang-Bang!”
By Larry Kaplan
December 3, 2013 at 3:46 am

I would never pay for Linked In, and I agree with Nick’s analysis of what it is—an online phone directory. But I would take it a bit further:

First, yes, it’s most useful feature is the “phone book” role it plays—I meet someone at an event, or hear about them from a colleague, and I can look them up and get the lowdown on them and their professional credentials (keeping in mind that they may or may not be truthful in their profile). So, it’s a free way to get limited background and contact information on people you may want to know more about.

Second, I use it as a way to ask for meetings with people who I think could be a useful connection for my consulting practice.

Generally, it works like this—sometimes someone who seems promising connects with me, or I might connect with someone who seems promising (for example, they are in a line of work where I may be able to eventually land them as a client, or where they may be able to refer me to clients). Then I send them an “in mail” asking for a personal meeting (I almost only connect with local people), and about 20% of the time, they say yes and we meet for coffee. It is a personal meeting that I probably would not have otherwise been in the position to ask for. Then, I take it from there, following up with this new personal connection the old fashioned way.

So, I agree that Linked In is not the be all-end all it is cracked up to be. But it has a utility for me.

By Michael Ware
December 3, 2013 at 5:26 am

Nick,

I partially agree with you. There are some people who are number gatherers – you can usually spot them – or a polite question back to them about how you think you can help them. In 99.99% of cases they never reply.

Second are agencies who dangle a role if you connect. Here I’m hypocritical. I’ll connect, give them say 6 months and if nothing remove them.

I have 2 sessions in the year where I review my connections – once on my summer holiday and once between Christmas &new year, and if I think that on reflection it was a numbers connection they get removed.

I agree with you about numbers, I have circa 460 connections but without notes ex colleagues, ex Q&A, conferences etc. I would never remember them, so how you could keep track of over a 1000 I just don’t know. Maybe some people are better at juggling large numbers.

By LinkedIn: big data gang bang? | Social netwerk | Recruitment Matters - Alles over online recruitment
December 3, 2013 at 5:37 am

[…] is meestal bijzonder aangenaam leesvoer. Zijn laatste blog posting is hierop geen uitzondering: Join My LinkedIn Gang-Bang!. De titel laat weinig aan de verbeelding over. Corcodilos wil voortaan met iedereen op LinkedIn […]

By Jim Jarvis
December 3, 2013 at 6:16 am

Nick,

I’ve always viewed LinkedIN as Facebook for professionals. In the early days it might have been ok…but it has clearly gone downhill, churning “relationships” and connections seemingly without regard to reason. The group discussions, for the most part have been taken over by trolls.

Funnily enough, a former colleague, now turned headhunter, and I exchanged emails a couple of weeks ago about a position he was filling. IPO situation that was interesting. His comment: “Your LinkedIN profile doesn’t support an application”.

Yeah, right. Exec. MBA, over $500Million in generated revenue with 20% pretax ROI, highly technical. Startup experience. But no, what I posted in 2006 and haven’t changed since, wasn’t aimed at a job application then, and isn’t now.
He was right.

The discussion ended: “I’m not looking, but I know two guys who are. Both highly qualified. Frankly, I wouldn’t recommend the situation to them, given what you’ve disclosed.”

Otherwise rational people, including his client apparently, are drinking the Koolaid, Nick!

By Jim Jarvis
December 3, 2013 at 8:39 am

Oh, Boy! It just keeps getting better.
In my in-box on the “semiconductor professionals” forum, this morning:

2 Year UnEmployed Person Gets 37 Job Offers In 2 Weeks Via LinkedIn!

You guessed it…they got a shill to post this blatant advert for a web course they’re peddling!

On the plus side, they’re more honest about this than The Ladders, which blatantly cribbed stuff from Monster and claimed it was reviewed $100k jobs. LinkedIN at least doesn’t claim much.

By Julie Farin
December 3, 2013 at 9:08 am

Hi Nick – I don’t connect to people on LinkedIn who I don’t know. How can I consider someone a legitimate “connection” or “contact” if I have never had a conversation with them? Quality over quantity. I don’t care about the numbers; they are meaningless.

By Dave
December 3, 2013 at 9:31 am

I was talking with some friends from our computer club over drinks and dinner. It seems like we all are in agreement that LinkedIn has become a spamming platform for recruiters.

We also have a recruiter who reads and sometimes posts to our E-Mail. He has complained about our meetings being at night and that they are tough for him to make – that the days would be better. News flash: They are tough to make for everyone else. But we make them – we are a group that loves to learn and network and the best time is in the evenings. My one friend pointed out that he probably gets enough placements to get by, but he would probably make a killing if he actually had more personal connections with people rather than troll LinkedIn. In other words, it’s about working smarter, not harder.

By Karsten
December 3, 2013 at 9:45 am

The best indication that LinkedIN is in the business of skimming Big Data, is the ever increasing stream of emails from them, suggesting endorsements, updates, things I should like, do etc.

Not to forget the “influencer” posts that usually are a mix of flashes of the obvious and self-help cliches – all with the aim of generating traffic.

By Mark Helotie
December 3, 2013 at 10:04 am

I follow the same “standards” on LinkedIn as I do on Facebook… I don’t “friend” anyone unless I know them, or strongly know of them. Absolutely no strangers, and no ppl that have no common connections, etc. I guess I’m a bit stricter on LinkedIn, since it’s only purpose for me is in the job hunt. But I don’t just accept random recruiters that ask to friend me there. Would get messy. :)

By Jennifer
December 3, 2013 at 10:06 am

I only connect with people I know. When I was job seeking, nothing was more frustrating than asking a connection to introduce me to another connection only to find out that they “really didn’t know them”. For the most part, my filter is, would I help this person if they needed it? Would I feel comfortable asking them for help if I needed it? Like Michael, I trim my connections every so often.

By Doug
December 3, 2013 at 10:47 am

Actually, I stick by your original standards, more-or-less.
1. I will not connect with someone I don’t know, who randomly tries to link. Like recruiters.
2. I will consider linking with someone I don’t know if we have a friend or something else in common.
3. As for people I know, I think I’ve already linked with all of them. Linked in gives me the opportunity to go through a bunch of people I might know, and there’s nobody new.

By Mayor Bongo
December 3, 2013 at 10:51 am

Typically, I like to respond to Linkedin requests when the person sending it adds some information about why they are contacting me, how we know each other, or where we have common interests.

Otherwise, it sounds like someone has picked a name out of a hat. I ignore requests for links from people I do not know who do not provide a reason, or at least a personal introduction, along with the request.

Yes, Linkedin has harvested my email contacts, but from Gmail all they are getting is the second tier stuff I park in that account.

Also, fake Linkedin profiles are a growing cyber threat. Be careful who you link to when you don’t know who it is. See a detailed explanation of the problem at the blog of the Cleveland Digital Publishing User Group below.

http://blog.cdpug.org/?p=1805

By Matt Bud
December 3, 2013 at 10:55 am

Dear Nick,

The Financial Executives Networking Group, which predates LinkedIn by many years, has never required folks to previously know each other. If you are a member, you can look up other members and contact them, no problem.

Our goal is to help folks find fellow members with similar backgrounds or company histories.

Our members are committed to helping one another. The key difference is that The FENG is not a fee for service. We are a REAL networking group. In order to join, you need a sponsor. Of course, if you don’t have one, we help you find one.

One of the new “bogus” features of LinkedIn is their “endorsement” functionality. I have friends endorsing me for things I honestly don’t do. It won’t take the world long to realize that this is a totally worthless feature.

As you say, LinkedIn is still a great place to “check people out,” and I never fail to do that before contacting anyone. Hopefully they won’t screw up that feature.

Regards, Matt

Matthew R. Bud
Chairman
The Financial Executives Networking Group

By Nick Corcodilos
December 3, 2013 at 11:14 am

@Michael: I respect how you handle LinkedIn, because that’s how I did it. But tell me: Why are you selective? How does it pay off or work for you? I’m trying to get as many insights on this as I can. Thanks.

By Nick Corcodilos
December 3, 2013 at 11:17 am

@Jim Jarvis: Lovely rejoinder to that rejection! Maybe the guy realizes now that his rep is on the line, too!

By Nick Corcodilos
December 3, 2013 at 11:22 am

@Julie Farin: I understand your policy completely. But consider what happens. When LinkedIn actually promotes random linking, and more and more people link to anyone, your ability to benefit from carefully curated connection lists diminishes dramatically. I think LinkedIn is no longer a professional (or personal) network. It’s now just a directory of everyone. You can keep your list small and clean, like I used to, but here’s the problem I discovered: I never used my clean list for any purpose. I realized that connections one level past my clean ones were wide open and linked to people they don’t know. It compromised the entire network. If LinkedIn were taking measures to improve link quality, I’d never have taken this position. But Linked tacitly encourages random linking to build the size of its database. It doesn’t care about networks. LinkedIn is merely a list.

By Nick Corcodilos
December 3, 2013 at 11:26 am

@Mark Helotie: If we assume that the links we need for career advancement are one or two or more levels away, that means our own lists – no matter how carefully curated – are not really the point. So when you click out to levels 2, 3, 4, you’re tapping networks that are very likely to be sloppy and “open.” Their owners don’t know most of the people in them. So if you ask for an intro, the best you’ll get is a meaningless “link.” So I no longer believe it matters whether we curate our own lists. Unless everyone maintains that level of integrity, the whole thing collapses, as LinkedIn aleady has. Linked WANTS you to have as many links as possible – like the clown who’s got 118,000. Why does he do it? To access a potential customer base for his products. And that’s the value of LinkedIn. If you have something to sell, it’s the best junk mail system ever invented.

By Rich N
December 3, 2013 at 11:27 am

I recently deleted my LinkedIn account and requested that all my info be eliminated. Recently, I got asked to connect with someone and declined and then got the reminder email. Not sure if it was a fake profile directing me to a malicious site or somehow I am still on the LinkedIn system.

As for not having a profile, I thought I’d miss out – however, out of the 500 or so connections perhaps 90 were valid and the rest were fluff. The endorsements are what did it for me – I couldn’t stand getting prodded every so often to endorse someone -really?

The biggest disservice I did for myself because of LinkedIn was picking up poor networking skills. I leaned too much on the site instead of developing true network contacts.

Nowadays, I keep a trusty rolodex of business cards of people who are relevant to me and who I am relevant to them. I send a quick email to thank etc – yes people change jobs etc, but I can cope and usually stay in touch with those that matter.

By Nick Corcodilos
December 3, 2013 at 11:29 am

@Matt Bud: The problem with FENG is that you need someone (a human) to vet all comers. Uh, I mean that’s the benefit and strength of FENG. They haven’t yet invented the database that can do that on its own. Of course, anyone in the database business doesn’t care about vetting new members – what matters is the size of the database. That’s what they sell. And that’s why FENG will be in operation a long, long time. You actually manage your community of members. My highest compliments.

By I’m On LinkedIn – Now What??? » Blog Archive » Who do I connect with on LinkedIn? People I know and trust, or everyone?
December 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm

[…] the reason I wanted to bring up this open wound again is that Nick Corcodilos wrote a post talking about his shift from only wanting to connect with people he knows and trusts to connecting […]

By Walter
December 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm

With a few exceptions, I limit LinkedIn connections to people I know, either personally or professionally. My “litmus test” is whether I can answer the question “What can you tell me about so and so” based on first-hand experience.

By Cort
December 3, 2013 at 1:18 pm

my policy has been like yours – if i don’t have a relationship with you, i won’t connect with you. however, i’ve also been rethinking that. i’ve actually taken time to let people know i won’t be accepting their request – OCD perhaps? – and have had some people take offense.

but have also been considering changing my policy as well to allow those to connect whom i could perhaps benefit from being connected to as being my “filter” how can you expand your “influence” if you aren’t connected to others?

i had a wildly expansive facebook policy for years and it has resulted in an unwieldy network of people with similar interests but mere acquaintances at best. don’t want to go there, but i’ve decided that keeping it simple makes sense.

By Tara
December 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Hi Nick,
I really enjoy your blog. I accept LinkedIn invitations from people I know or have done business with. I will sometimes accept an invitation from a second degree connection if I think it would be beneficial.

Social media is digital networking and the same fundamentals of belly-to-belly networking apply – it is about building relationships. I think time spent on establishing a personal brand is more important than acquiring a lot of weak connections; the first is productive and the latter serves ego.

By Erika
December 3, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I recently saw a former co-worker’s profile on Linked-In. She claimed to be an executive-level manager of scientists and engineers at the large chemical company we both worked for. She was no such thing! I started before she did and left after she did, so I know this 100% for a fact. (Her exact title was Chemical Engineer II.) Anyone can claim anything on LinkedIn just as they can claim anything elsewhere on the internet. The truth has become secondary and those of us trying to compete on our honest credentials are passed over for liars. I wish there was a “report fraud” button on LinkedIn! We need a website that exposes people’s fraudulent career claims.

By Frustrated American
December 3, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Dear Nick: I have never understood Linkedin and found it only to be mildly useful. At its inception, like so many other professionals, I jumped on the bandwagon to join. But other than using it to research a person or company, I find it to be highly USELESS!!

I’ve never understood the concept of “connecting” with people that one already knows. Especially if one has already exhausted the “networking” angle with one’s already existing community.

I NEED — as I suspect do most other job seekers, particularly if one is unemployed — to connect with people I don’t know. I NEED to BROADEN my network, organically, without being forced to pay for access.

And I don’t understand why so many people buy the KOOL-AID that LinkedIn, Facebook, and so many other crappy online entities are selling.

The government needs to, seriously, investigate these FRAUDULANT companies that provide no useable service of import to consumers.

Thank you, Nick, for keeping up the fight for integrity, truth and common sense in employment practices.

By Becky Siebenthaler
December 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm

It’s interesting – and sad – to see you make such a 180 turn, Nick. You hold such strong positions, and you back them up very well. I totally understand why you made this change on LI, but it’s sad to see such a useful concept disintegrate into garbage. A good reputation, based on integrity, is one of the most important attributes an organization – or a person – can have. You have such a reputation; unfortunately, LI no longer does.

I will keep my free LI contact pool, though, for the time being because 1) I have always made it a point that I do not link with anyone whose work I cannot personally recommend, and 2) it’s a handy way to store (and access) more detailed professional information about myself and my connections. You never know when you’re going to need those details. If you know the person, you will know whether the details are true. And if you want to ‘meet’ someone in any degree beyond 1st, you have someone you know who can provide personal insight and, if appropriate, an introduction.

As for the groups, for a while I was participating in several discussions and submitting content and links I thought might be interesting or of value to the groups. I was trying to cultivate an online presence in lieu of other professional activities that were not available to me. There is so very much to learn about our professions, our world and ourselves, and that’s where the groups can be very helpful. If the group is managed well, the discussions are not allowed to go off track.

I’m hoping that the combination of my LI contacts and my Facebook friends (cultivated under the same personal knowledge conditions) will carry me through to the next great wonder of cyberspace communications. It shouldn’t be long now.

By Bruce N. Goren
December 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm

No. I won’t dilute my contacts by joining your “gang bang”. What exactly do you want to do “to make money” on LinkedIn that respecting your connection integrity currently prevents? If you want to be a LION (Linked In Open Networker) please use Facebook or Google+. If someone defecates in your swimming pool do you declare it to be an open neighborhood sewer or do you remove the toilet fish and disinfect? There are some “Google-ly” cheap Jedi tricks you can perform BTW to circumvent the pay-wall on LinkedIn. Ever wonder who that person is who viewed your profile and whose photo you don’t recognize from the tease bar at the bottom of the page? Simply copy the photo URL and paste it into Google image search and voila! you can now see the name attached to the profile photo and learn which headhunter peeked at your resume. Always use Google cache to see the public view of their profile so they don’t know you peeked back .

By Paul Valenti
December 3, 2013 at 3:48 pm

[NOTE: The post below was copied and pasted by Paul Valenti from a LinkedIn discussion thread that I started on this topic. Each paragraph starts with the name of the commenter. -N]

Paul Valenti I have never understood why the heck we would need LinkedIn if all we did was connect to people we already know. LinkedIn’s greatest (and possibly only) value is in its capacity to help me connect with people I don’t already know but want to know.

Kristian Chronister Good point Paul. And I think a lot of folks have evolved past that earlier-days view of “business facebook” mode where linkedin was simply to keep in contact with actual folks you know. But it’s the “want to” know part that’s key. When the want to is simply for some sort of feather-in-the-cap network building, etc. then it’s unwelcome – at least speaking for myself. It’s the mutuality of the want to that really matters. Why do you want to know me? Why should I want to know you? My take is if you can’t even be bothered to write a few words about that, and simply leave the default vanilla “I want to add you to my network” – and how revealing is that! – then why should I “want to” on my part?

Paul Valenti Exactly Kristian – in my work I often need to meet and work (at least briefly) with specific people doing specific jobs – generally in HR – LinkedIn is outstanding in that it helps me find out who I need to talk to and provides a way to introduce myself. That said, it is still up to me to explain why I want to connect with them.

Nick Corcodilos I’d love to know how effective LinkedIn is at letting people several links away actually connect. The idea sounds great, but does it work? I realized that I didn’t use my carefully curated list very much — and that people connected to my links seemed to be “open networkers.” So, where’s the value to me in superfluous links where my contact can’t really make a meaningful intro? Linked seems to have become little more than a phone book — everyone’s in there, and you can find them, but what REALLY is the point of true connections?

Paul Valenti Hi Nick – for my part, LinkedIn is mostly good for identifying who I need to connect with – I often have to make an end run around LinkedIn’s structural obstacles to make the actual connection but LinkedIn provides the target – so-to-speak. Moreover, when working with a client who has applied for a job at a specific firm, using LinkedIn Company Search I can find out who at that firm I have a relationships with (and it is my business to have many professional relationship, particularly with HR people) that I can contact and ask for assistance for my clients. Finally, despite its Facebook like aspects, the updates DO give me a better picture of what many of the folks (professionals) I work with intermittently are doing and paying attention to – all of this helps me to better serve clients. To be sure Nick, if I didn’t do the work I do I would probably have little use for LinkedIn – I have no use for Facebook.

By Patrick C.
December 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm

While I agree that Linkedin is in the money chase, I think it is useful for maintaining contacts in the business I am in. My contracting work can take me anywhere in the country. Possibly one of my contacts will know someone where one of those jobs pop up. If so, I have small window in where one might not have existed before.
I do accept some connections with folks in my business that I don’t know so they can use my network to possibly hunt up a connections they can use to find work.
I allow recruiters to connect so they can spam me with opportunities and they can browse my network and possibly find someone to do the work if I can’t.

I reach out to people that I don’t know in my line of work so that they can at least refer a hiring manager to me if they see fit.

I’ve been reading “Ask the Headhunter” for years so I should just know to research my target company and present a revenue stream based on my being employed by them. I’m not learning everything, but I’m not learning nothing….

By Bart Zehren
December 3, 2013 at 7:00 pm

I, too, am of two minds about LinkedIn and my attitudes toward it have changed and evolved over the years. I’m conflicted about it; Love and Hate it at the same time.

On the negative side, one thing I’m not at all conflicted about is LinkedIn’s “click it” endorsements gimmick. Why should I let LI sell my network of connections (a “product” I built for them) to make $$$ – especially when NONE of the revenue accrues to me??

Besides, unlike the “in their own words” narrative testimonials from clients and colleagues that I display proudly on my LI Profile, many early click it” endorsements of me came from people who know NOTHING AT ALL about my performance and the quality of my work. (One was from a grade school classmate I hadn’t seen or heard from, nor even heard much about, even once since then, except for a few unmemorable moments at our 40-year re-union).

So I decided some time ago to ignore the clicks and just back out of the program altogether. And that’s why I let everyone know who takes the time to read the first line of my Summary Statement on my LinkedIn Profile. I neither “click” for others nor do I accept them from anyone. Pure and simple, it’s a money-making scam for LI and I’ll have nothing to do with it.

By Jane Atkinson
December 3, 2013 at 10:42 pm

@Rich N:

I’ve never belonged to LinkedIn and I regularly get invitations to connect. So getting them doesn’t necessarily mean that LI still has your details.

When I asked a friend of mine about his invitation, he told me that his Google addressbook of over 100 people had been spammed with invitations, without his knowledge.

I got two yesterday from a business acquaintance. One was to my current email address, the other to a previous email. I very much doubt that a deliberate connection request would be made to an obsolete (though still working) email address. I suspect that someone’s email addressbook got harvested.

By Mary
December 4, 2013 at 7:35 am

our manager has asked us to be very careful who we link with, as we don’t want to reveal to our competitors who we are talking to in potential new client companies

By Nic
December 4, 2013 at 7:50 am

I have one take on all of it. This sad situation represents to me all that is wrong with business professionalism, integrity and personal ethics.

This has been going on for far too long and is not ending well. It is at a point of absolute ridiculousness where adults have been brainwashed into gadgets and social garbage (which in my opinion is only making other people money) thinking that strangers online are friends yet after knowing someone, helping friends of friends over time professionally for years the same people still do not really trust one another, sad but true. So why even associate at all? I have one word for it, suckers.

It is the same to me as these sites “wanting” you or leading you to believe you have to be on this, that or the other thing because why? You likely cannot even answer why you are befriending strangers or pasting pictures to sites like little girls.

Everyone is doing it? No, it is to benefit them immediately or for that day you may “need” that person to make a buck or make yourself look good? To me none of it looks good it looks absolutely insane. Smart people see such shite from a mile away and such greed from both ends of the spectrum has gone entered the physical realm of energy seeking equilibrium. The end game is going to be ugly for both those who created these situations and for those who fell for it (and them.)

I highly recommend everyone view Death of a Scoundrel, a 1956 film starring George Sanders

By Nick Corcodilos
December 4, 2013 at 10:48 am

@Jane: “When I asked a friend of mine about his invitation, he told me that his Google addressbook of over 100 people had been spammed with invitations, without his knowledge.”

LinkedIn’s explanation: Users give permission to do this. And I’m sure they do, when they sign up and check off the Terms & Conditions box. But LinkedIn knows damned well that users are not clearly aware that, after at least 4 badgering requests to fork over their mail lists, LinkedIn has taken their lists to spam them. It’s the oldest game in business: Fleece the customer legally because you can.

By Tom Nosal
December 4, 2013 at 11:06 am

Nick,

Most of the time, I only accept invitations to people I have had some previous interaction with. And I never directly request a connection to someone I don’t know. I usually ask for an introduction first. I believe that in the virtual world and the real world, it is the quality of the connections you have not the quantity that will do you the most good.

It does not do me much good to ask connections for something that I have no relationship with. But I can get a boatload of mileage by going to my close network of connections.

And that is the true value of building a network. So yeah, I could double or triple my connections but those connections would not do me any good so why bother. This seems to be a concept that many have forgotten, especially the younger generation.

And in the virtual world as in the real world, you are known by the company you keep. Maybe I’m alone in this thinking, but I’m okay with that.

PS. We’ve exchanged emails in the past and I’ve even talked to you on the phone a couple of years ago about a possible speaking opportunity. So I would connect with you Nick.

By J.C.
December 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Great post, Nick! You’ve asked everyone “What color is your Kool-Aid?” I’ve always hated the stuff.

By Vasuki Narayan
December 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Nick,

I only connect to people I have worked with or know personally otherwise. Over all my years of consulting, it is a large number (>500). As for linking with you, Nick, I believe we have exchanged emails a while ago, but that was when you were on the TMF boards. After all these years, I don’t expect you to recognise my name, so I wouldn’t send you an invite.

I don’t use LinkedIn much, except when I am hiring, and then only to review where people have worked, so I can call my personal contacts at those companies to get background info. Sometimes, I see a recommendation from someone I know, and based on who the person is, it might be a positive or negative mark on the candidate.

As for job connections and contract offers, I have mainly been referred into positions or contracts by people I have worked with in the past. After all this time, I would hope I have a personal network that I can tap into…

By Don Harkness
December 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Lots of good comments leaving a late comer little to add. I was an early adopter of LIN, (one of the 1st 100K) and as Nick has pointed out, if you’ve been on a long time you can see a change, the clutter of commercialization come about.
It has value. I’ll stick to the phone book utility comprised of people I know, quality over quantity. If everyone does just one thing..keep their profile current and you check it periodically you get quick news on changes, updates with people you know, heads up etc….and seeing a name pop serves as a reminder to touch base if you want.
As a recruiter it serves as a crude data base. That is if I specialize in recruiting certain specialists, and I connect with them, I have a DB that I don’t have to maintain..LIN does.
But LinkedIn is Not a network. You know people in networks. LinkedIn’s propaganda that my 600+ connections means I have a network of gazillions is ridiculous. And as a recruiter I liked the recommendations feature where someone took the time to draft one including why they were in a position to make the recommendation. The current endorsement feature generates too much email clutter citing endorsements from people who could not possibly know I had the skill being endorsed. Not to mention LinkedIn’s randomly generated notices piled on top. This feature alone is one reason I wouldn’t take Nicks route and accept every overture..the growing stack of strangers will likely endorse you and in so doing clutter up your inbox.
I’m working on condensing my account down to a base of people I know who are good networkers.

By marybeth
December 8, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Excellent comments by all. I understand the frustration with LinkedIn’s metamorphosis from a place for professionals to connect to something that is trying to make $$$$ anyway possible by being everything to everyone, and eventually they may burn out. While I’d like to see them return to their roots rather than trying to be like Facebook or My Space, I don’t think that is going to happen.

I get requests to connect, sometimes from people I know, but often from people I don’t know at all, and once in a blue moon from people with whom I have a tenuous connection at best (e.g., I’ve never met them or worked with them or went to school with them, but we share some kind of common denominator–such as he graduated from the university I used to work for, but otherwise I don’t know him from Adam, or someone is working in the same field as the master’s program I used to run).

A couple of years ago a career counselor at my alma mater strongly recommended getting on LI; she said that employers frequently check it out as a way to do quick research on you, and that it isn’t so much your first connections but your second and third connections that matter. I didn’t see how–a second or third connection can’t tell an employer anything about me–the only thing he could do would contact the connection we have in common, but given how automated the job search has become, I doubt any employer would take that step.

I always accept requests to connect if they are from people I know. I turn down requests from those I don’t know. Some people see the number of LI connections as winning a popularity contest, or that it somehow makes them more valuable/connected, but I disagree. I’d rather have a smaller number of connections–people I know and who know me, than have a larger number if most of them don’t know me and I don’t know them.

I also have a hardcopy database because some of my connections don’t do social media, and this hardcopy database includes the folks on LI. I don’t rely upon LI as the only way to reach out to them; it is just one way to stay in touch, but not the only way, and it isn’t my choice of a way to communicate with someone.

I think it boils down to how people use LI, and how people tend to use it. I don’t like the turn LI itself has taken, but that doesn’t mean I have to fork over $30.00 per month just because they’re marketing a “premium” feature, or that I have to say “yes” to everyone who asks to connect with me. I’ve said “no” to the former and often say “no” to the latter, unless I know the person asking to connect. And even then, I’ve said “no” twice to people I do know–one of them was a former boss–a witch on wheels who didn’t treat me or anyone else as a human being while she was there, so when she reached out to connect, I checked “no” and that was that.

@Nick: I hear your frustration, and think there’s nothing wrong to having standards to who you decide to connect to. I get that they (all of the folks who are trying to connect with you) have worn you down….but clicking “no” and deleting their requests is easy. I’m sure that you get tons more requests than I do and doing this would occupy too much of your time, but if you still have to check “yes”, that’s no harder than checking “no”. Or maybe you’ll decide to do what two of my former students who are AD military have decided to do–they simply don’t participate in LI at all; if I want to contact them, I have their email addresses (and I’m pretty good at searching for people on the internet) and can contact them that way. I also have their phone numbers and current addresses. I don’t email them all of the time, but I do it periodically, just to stay in touch. And they’ll email me periodically for the same reason. So it works…and yes, it means two databases, so to say, but I’d rather have them in one of those databases than not at all.

By Dave
December 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Sorry to plug my own stuff, but I had to vent over a recent LinkedIn experience:

http://www.thelinuxgeek.org/posts/7

By marilyn
December 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Has linkedin devolved into a “facebook”-ish phoney popularity contest for the undersocialized and lonely participants? Sounds like it. Instead, try making friends face to face, lonely hearts :).

By Kai
January 14, 2014 at 11:01 pm

I think everyone who is aware of Linkedin’s antics will get a kick out of this: http://www.informationweek.com/software/social/linkedin-sues-after-scraping-of-user-data/d/d-id/1113362

By Thomas
February 7, 2014 at 10:03 pm

And now LinkedIn becomes a regular Internet job board with this acquisition:
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/linkedin-acquire-bright-210500394.html

By Andrew
March 16, 2014 at 11:17 pm

While I’m thrilled with all I’ve learned from you about making a business case for work instead of hunting jobs, and find your “How to Say It” sidebars in Fearless Job Hunting to be models of tact—

I have to admit that I’m having trouble reconciling all your good advice about professionalism with your choice to use the term “gang bang.” According to dictionary.com:

“gang-bang, noun. a series of acts of often forcible sexual intercourse engaged in by several persons successively with one passive partner.”

However vile LinkedIn’s behaviour is, I think you will agree that it’s on an entirely different plane from that of forcible sexual intercourse. Please consider whether the image of group rape is really what you want to create in your reader’s minds to convey your feelings about LinkedIn, and whether some readers may find that image brutally offensive, even if it was unintentional. I hope that you will consider editing the term out of this post, and avoid using it in the future.

Thank you.

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