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This post has been migrated and imported into different systems over the years, I have not had a chance to format this post manually so it may be hard to read but I have left it here as a reference.
Today I want to share a bit of a personal experience regarding Linkedin and open networking. There are reasons for doing this and there are reasons why you really should stay away from it, for most of us there will be more cons than pros of being an open networker. Unless you strictly use Linkedin to sell or promote something and you don’t network with people who you meet in real life then you probably don’t want to be part of open networking and I will tell you why.
However, let’s first begin with why I tried open networking and what I wanted to get out of it. I was a small business owner with around 200 connections on linkedin, people liked what I did and my profile looked pretty nice on linkedin compared to others. However there was one thing my profile lacked which many other profiles had, and it was the nice 500+ connections shown on the profile instead of 234 or whatever I had at the time. Here is what my profile looks like today and as you can see I have the “500+” shown there.
(image removed)My solution to get that “500+” was pretty simple after a bit of googling, all I had to do was to become and open networker, simply submit my email to a group called LION (Linkedin Open Networkers) and in return I got a list of hundreds of people I could add who had promised to accept my invitation to connect. An Open Networker is someone who will basically add anyone to their network and agrees to accept all invitations to connect. Many of these people may show LION next to their name and they will usually also write the number of connections they have if they have a lot, some have 30,000 or more. You can read more about LION and how it works via: What is a Linkedin LION.
Great! I quickly had 500+ connections and some looked pretty good as they were CEOs and the like, but then the spam started raining in. I quickly realized that I had made a mistake as I started receiving messages like “Thanks for connecting, please take a look at my website” or “I see that you work in an IT field, we are here to help, hire us now”. A lot of this stuff is what you try to filter out of your inbox but I had added these people, I had told linkedin that I knew who they were and they had accepted my invite telling linkedin they knew who I was even though they did not. I still wanted my 500+ connections so I let it be but I stopped accepting invites from strangers and took myself off the LION list, or at least did my best to get myself removed.
However the worst part comes when I started working at other companies instead of running my own business on my own. Now people who I worked with closely started adding me on Linkedin and I was happy to accept and my “fake” LION connections that were still there were happy to ask all my new connections to connect (Which I did not think about untill someone asked how I knew this and that person). Suddenly my close friends and co-workers were getting invitations to connect from strangers that I did not know but Linkedin would present them in a way that made it look like I endorsed them for being real, serious and respectable persons. Afterall I had told Linkedin that I knew them when I added them. My real connections would then suffer from the same spam that I had endured when I first added all these connections.
As a result of this I have spend many hours, we are talking weeks, filtering out people I don’t know from people that I do know which has to be done manually one by one. And finally my linkedin profile has 95% real connections that I have met in person, I am sure I missed a few fake ones but I will continues filtering out the bad ones when I see it. After all this I realized that it probably would not have taken me very long to get to the “500+” number without being and open networker and that the number of connections did not really matter in the first place. What matters is the quality of your Linkedin profile and the quality of your connections.
So unless you are looking to spam people, don’t become an open networker and make the same mistakes I did.