A few years ago I made the decision to only link to people via Linked In with whom I had a real business relationships. Because of my being a professional motivational speaker, I tend to meet large groups of people at one time (which often follows with LinkedIn requests from some in the audience), so I modified my LinkedIn protocol to only include folks with whom I have shared a meal or a beer. (I do make exceptions to this policy when I have corresponded in a Web 2.0/Social Media/Twitter/MySpace/FaceBook/Plaxo kinda way and feel a real connection or friendship has been established).
My point is that I want my connections on LinkedIn to actually be people I know personally. I want to feel I can freely call on them to make a legitimate introduction to another person in my network should the need arise. I do not want to have some arbitrary link to a stranger. I feel these links undermine the legitimacy of the network.
Anyway, I declined the LinkedIn invitation with the following:
I really like your blog. I do not add anyone to Linked In that I have not eaten a meal or had a beer with. OR, someone I really get to know well via internet, blog, etc...
"no problem by me whatsoever, but i disagree with your approach to linked in. linkedin is not a closed protected garden of contacts. it's a way to network with NEW people. the web is about sharing. you're not sharing and that's cool."
I am not sure how to react to this response. I am offended and feel I am being schooled by some guy I have never met who seems to feel very superior to me in the LinkedIn world. Is the web about sharing in all circumstances? I understand that people have different views on how to link to people on social networking sites, but I cannot believe that an hour earlier he sent me a note that read:
"Hi, after reviewing your background, I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn"
It sounded friendly and professional, but did he really mean:
"After reviewing your background I decided you could be beneficial to ME. I will never respect nor care about you or your beliefs, desires and opinions. I want to scan your contacts and see if there is anyone there who would be useful to ME. You see, I view LinkedIn as my personal tool to connect to strangers around the globe because if you are on LinkedIn, you are required to share with me, even though you do not know me. If you disagree, I will call you selfish. I want NEW people to call my own...AKA, I want YOUR people."
The funny thing is that if he had tried to connect on MySpace, FaceBook, or Twitter I would have gladly accepted the invitation, as I have different personal policies that I use on those sites.
This is the one where I want comments galore. Do not be passive, jump in the game today and leave your thoughts. I want other bloggers to write about this topic. Even if you disagree with me, I want to hear what you think about social networking sites and how your personal linking policy works. Are your contacts your real friends or just random digital links to people you know nothing about. What makes these services valuable, and what drives you crazy about LinkedIn (and the rest).
I challenge every blogger who reads this to chime in with his two cents on my dilemma on his or her blog. Come on, you know you were hoping to find a subject to blog about today anyway...make this your topic...leave the chorus and sing your solo about how you link, or don't link. Scream from the hilltops.
I will give a free copy of both my books, "Some Assembly Required" (second edition) and "The ABC's of Networking" to the first five people to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your new blog post with your opinions of social networking linking. That is two books that would cost some cashola on Amazon.com....FREE.... (please include your address in the email so I know where to send the books!).
Have A Great Day
and thank you for reading this rant!