LinkedIn-You’re Doing It Wrong

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[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. Expect there seems to be a misunderstanding about Linkedin best practices.

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, start the relationship nicely with a personal note.
Didn’t your mother teach you anything?

I’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 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.

Maybe Linkedin could be more amazing is we were just a little more human – then we wouldn’t need anything like “LinkedIn best practices at all.”

That’s all.

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