If you missed my post last Thursday, I was riled up by a stranger who had requested me to link to them via LinkedIn who insulted me when I declined the invitation. I asked for comments and challenged other bloggers to write about their feelings about how to utilize social networking relationships.
Wow, this was great. The post got 14 comments as of this morning (15 if you count the one from me!) and my email was buzzing with friends chiming in with opinions.
I especially liked a comment that disagreed with me, but in a respectful manner. You see, people have the right to disagree, they should just not take cheap shots and call me "selfish":
"In the world of business EVERY contact counts. It can link you to a very important prospect, thus improving your business. While I can understand the need to just have people you actually know on your LinkedIn connections, I believe you are missing a wonderful opportunity to meet and connect with people that may not have been there before (-:"
I can see his point, and that of others who share this view. LinkedIn has been especially useful to recruiters, who link to as many folks as they can so they can create a database of potential candidates. (I would accept links from recruiters I have not met, as they trade in connecting opportunities). I just feel that I have no way of knowing whom is a good contact and who is useless without personally knowing them. Thus a lot of links just cloud the diamonds in the pile and thus dull the sparkle of a great network.
I still believe this argument of quantity of contacts is like the guy at a live networking event who pops around the room aggressively handing out his business card. His thought is, "it is a numbers game, and if I pass it out enough cards I might actually meet and connect with someone who needs my product or service."
If you have networked enough you have encountered this type of obnoxious person who just shoves their card in your hand without having had a conversation and built rapport. This is how I see the stranger with the link request. It makes me feel like a "number" in his "numbers game" where the prize for him to find the needle in his haystack.
"Rant Part 2" is not to proclaim to the world that I am right and others are wrong. Instead, I believe each person can manage their LinkedIn connections in whatever manner they see fit. My desire is that LinkedIn works for them as a productive tool. I desire that everyone finds success in this world. It is not a zero sum game, but a "link request" is just that....a REQUEST (not a DEMAND). If someone you do not know (or heck, maybe someone you do know) declines a connection, have class and respect for their views on this subject.
Thank you to all who commented and blogged on this topic. Keep the discussion alive and chime in! There are no right answers....but respectful discussion helps us all learn!
Have A Great Day.