LinkedIn-You’re Doing It Wrong

[Warning: This is a vent. A rant. I just HAVE to get it off my chest.]

Oh. LinkedIn. That treasure trove of business connections, potential sales and potential jobs. It’s almost just too awesome.

Except its not. Because you’re ruining it.

Stop randomly sending LinkedIn requests without context to everyone LinkedIn thinks you should meet.
LinkedIn is WRONG.

Newsflash: if you should meet them, then you probably will.
If you should meet them, then start the relationship off nicely with a personal note.
Didn’t your mother teach you anything?

LInkedIn_ScreenshotI’m showing you this ACTUAL conversation because this person was actually honest enough to TELL THE TRUTH about why I received some random connection request. Kudos to this person.

But seriously, how many of these people do you have floating around in your LinkedIn connections?

I have Twitter and Google+ as networks that are wide open; I enjoy reading information from people I don’t know in both those networks.
I’ve made some great connections on both networks that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Unless there is a compelling reason NOT to, I’m happy to connect with most people in both those places.
Facebook is less wide open, limited mostly to people I actually know in real life, you know, my Mom and my high school classmates. Good times over there. Good times.
But LinkedIn is really reserved for professional connections.
It isn’t a contract.
It doesn’t mean we WILL work together.
It doesn’t mean we have worked together.
It does mean that we’re both viewing the connection as a professional one.
Another newsflash: if your Instagram is connected to your LinkedIn, you aren’t treating it professionally.
If I want to follow you on Instagram I will.
I don’t share my dinner on LinkedIn and I don’t ask for personal references on Instagram.
Got it?

This is the reason I send a personal note to every single person who I don’t know when I receive a LinkedIn request.
It isn’t because I’m a snob.
It isn’t because I have to “protect my rolodex.”
It isn’t because I don’t “get” social media and the power of connecting.
It’s because I’m trying to derive some value from LinkedIn and connecting with 7,000 people who I have no context about, who don’t really want to get to know me, or who I really don’t want to get to know, will not do it for me.
I tried the whole LION thing. It didn’t work for me. I squashed it. Fast.
When someone asks me to connect them to someone I don’t know or feel like I have a relationship with, it feels embarrassing.
I feel this sheepish need to explain how I use LinkedIn and why I have a connection with someone I don’t really know.
I hate that feeling.

So if you want to connect on LinkedIn, that’s cool.
Just let me know why.
That’s all I ask.
That way I have some context about who you are, what you’re doing on LInkedIn and how maybe, possibly, I can help.
Feel free to tell me how you use LinkedIn too.
I love helping others, I really do.
But I can’t help if I don’t know what you want or why you think we should connect.

That’s all.

Oh, wait. No, it’s not.
PS: Could you also stop endorsing me for things that I didn’t put there?
You don’t need to make up skills for me.
I’m cool with the ones I have.