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April 20, 2009

Please Do Not Accept all Invites !!!

In my view "Linkers" are the scourge of LinkedIn. They turn what is a professional and powerful networking forum into a lightweight race to see who can get the most connections.

This isn't Facebook or Twitter, it is a professional forum where your connections can contribute to 6 or 7 figure earnings. it is also not a B2C environment, or not much of one anyway, it is far more powerful when used as a B2B platform.

Here's why "Accepting all invites..." is a bad idea...(My approach anyway...)

1. It devalues connections. I am not a notch on somebodies profile, and neither are you. My view is that every connection reflects a relationship that does or could exist in the off-line world. Sometimes commercial, sometimes purely professional and sometimes just a network contact that you have held for years.

2. The audience is different. Very few of my clients are on Facebook. My clients are economic decision makers for significant manufacturing, infrastructure and resource / commodity producers. Almost all of them are on LinkedIn.

These are not the sorts of people who are going to accept a stock-standard invite like "I wanted to add you to my network because you are a person I trust". They don't know you, they have no idea why you trust them, and they are not going to go for it. Period.

3. LinkedIn is not very viral. My view. People may look at your news article, they might see your slideshare presentation and they could even take time to read your blog. Bu the audience is not the type to tweet it, book mark it, pass it to others, email it around and so on.

They read it, take what they need, may recommend it once or twice, and they move on.

The real value of LinkedIn is to supplement networking in the off line world. Think of it as a 24/7 trade event that everyone came to.

The sooner you realize this and act accordingly the better your cashable results from LinkedIn will be.

4. It exposes your connections. if you connect to me, you then see my connections as in your network. And you also see then as 2nd degree connections. While I don't have a network stacked with the mightiest industrialists on the planet - I am definitely connected to a few of them.

Why on earth would I let my connections, who have connected to me because they trust me to a degree, be exposed to people I don't know - with intentions that I am not sure of?

5. Not how many but who. For me LinkedIn is the quintessential example of "not how many but who" you are connected to.

Some of my connections run gigantic organizations, with budgets that contribute significant percentage points to my nations GDP. They are connected to other powerful economic decision makers. And they may only have 10 or 20 connections....

Thats a privilege. It allows me access to at least communicate with others in the field, and maybe even to ask for introductions.

Please don't accept all invites, it makes it worse for the rest of us.