The HR Juggler

LinkedIn: 5 Reasons Why I Won’t Connect

Posted on: January 5, 2011

I am rather ambivalent about LinkedIn and it is one of my goals this year to explore it further and see how I can use it better and more effectively. 

But for the record, there are some invitations to connect, that I will always ignore.

1 – Have I sacked you for gross misconduct? If so, I am highly unlikely to want to connect with you or recommend you to any of my professional network.  And, yes, I did receive exactly such a request yesterday and it is not the first.  As with many HR people, I have a long memory!!

2 – If I don’t know you. Call me old-fashioned, but I do think LinkedIn works best when you have some knowledge of the person you are connecting with, be it on social media, on the phone or in person.  And, no, cold calls in themselves don’t count as me ‘knowing’ you.

3 – If the only reason you are looking to connect is that “we’ve got a lot of connections in common”. Well, that may be so, but doesn’t count as a compelling reason in my book. 

4 – If I don’t remember you. I have always worked in large corporates and don’t know every other person who worked there. I am pretty good at remembering names and faces, so if I really don’t remember you, chances are we probably didn’t work together.

5 – Are you a recruitment consultant that I don’t have a personal working relationship with? The answer to that invitation (and there are many!) is always ‘no’.

So, those are my five reasons for ignoring requests, but I would love to connect if I do know you on Twitter or elsewhere!

Anyone else got similar stories of very random LinkedIn requests? And if anyone has tips for making LinkedIn work better for them, I would love to hear them.

Tags:

32 Responses to "LinkedIn: 5 Reasons Why I Won’t Connect"

I agree with you Alison….if you accept everyone then it isnt your network anymore but a list of names which would be less valuable in my eyes (even though it’s longer).

SoMe is strong when it’s applied to surfacing and strengthening the relationships, networks and communities that already exist…like being selective over who you connect with…rather than ‘building fans’/’growing followers’ etc etc that so many column inches get taken up with

Another one I’d add to your list of nos is ‘we are members of the same group’ so what!

Thanks for commenting Gavin, interesting points. I agree with the “we’re members of the same group” rationale – doesn’t cut much ice with me either! Harsh or fair???!

Hi Alison, I would not call that harsh. I think picking out the ‘wheat only’ is a valuable lesson, especially if you are hoping to build a meaningful network.

From my own personal experience, at the start of the networking game, it did appear to be more about connecting to as many people as possible. Which in turn happened to link me up with friends long forgotten and groups I was previously unaware of. However, the turning point for me was when I realised I needed to downsize to maximise. So I embarked upon a connection cull and will continue to do this periodically to ensure that I am where my social and professional network is concerned I am linking up with, sharing information etc. with people that matter to me. I really don’t need to know what a friend of a friends cat, who has their own FB page is up to!

Hopefully that doesn’t come across as the Queen of Ice?

Hi Alison – first of all, thanks for accepting my connection 🙂

I too decline connection requests from people I don’t know, never met and chances are never will. My favourites are those: “we’re members of the same group”…so?

As Katherine suggested in a comment, “connection culls” are necessary – I did that the other day.
People want to connect with you yet a year or 2 later they are more strangers than when you first connected with them. Clearly they want numbers, not quality of connections, so Delete, Delete, Delete! If my connection is really important to them they will message me again. Cold? Not at all – just being a realist and practical.

Certain individuals however never cease to amaze me – those, similar to yours example (who you will always remember for the wrong reasons), asking you to connect or even give them a recommendation.

2 days after I had given feedback to a colleague (following disgraceful behaviour on a conf call – this was a regular occurrence) and recommending to management that the individual be pulled out of the project, have their position reconsidered in the company and even sent on some anger management programme of sorts, I received a LI connection request as well as: “could you please recommend me…your feedback was extremely valuable, I appreciate you as a colleague, you’re a great individual, bla bla bla…and am so privileged to know you.”
Despite the “nice compliments” I still declined the connection!

It’s amazing how some people have a short memory span…2 days?!

Jose

I am always open to connecting with people who are relevant to me, but by and large Linkedin acts as an online CV and a way of letting those that I do know from my past and present, what I am up to with the occasional profile update. I haven;t got any new business from it and precious few approaches from recruiters. The ones that I have had have not been propositions that I have been interested in.

Great post, Alison, couldn’t agree more. I did get a reference request today via LinkedIn which I’m not quite sure how to respond to, so if you can write a blog on that tomorrow, that’d be great! 🙂

Loving the comments today – thank you 🙂

Katherine, you are no ice queen, you make some interesting points about ‘culling’ that I hadn’t really considered before

Jose (would I ever ‘ignore’ you!), your story amazes me too…it was the response I got from tweeting about point number one that got me thinking about blogging this topic!

Alasdair, thanks for commenting. Interesting that you see LI primarily as an online CV tool. That’s mostly my experience of it to date, but I wonder whether I am missing something? Perhaps not!

And thanks for your comment too, lovely Kay…!

Having become accustomed to making the almost daily sacrificial offerings to the demanding deity of LinkedIn, and having received little or nothing in return, late last year I took the somewhat risky step of closing my account down.

Since then blackbirds might have fallen unexplained from the sky, floods might have wrought havoc on a usually arid land, but my life has not ended. People do not shun me in the street, or mock me for being LinkedOut.

The debates that take place in the LinkedIn forums are generally insipid versions of ones that are hosted better elsewhere.

Basically it’s a market place for those seeking either employement or candidates, and if you’re not in one of those two categories, it’s largely irrelevant.

Yes, there will always be those whose eyes pop out at the thought of The Man Who Isn’t On LinkedIn but, like most of these things, before long it will be replaced by another application that demands our attention without any guarantee of a return on investment.

I love the term of you being ‘LinkedOut’ :). Lots of food for thought in your response Graham, thanks for commenting. Despite having been on Linkedin for at least one if not two years, I can’t really disagree wth any of the comments you have made….perhaps it really is a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes?

It would be a fascinating experiment to invite people to share their positive experiences of LinkedIn to find out whether there really are any business evangelists for it out there, other than the recruiters and job-hunters. Perhaps a blog for another day!?

I don;t think you;re missing anything Alison, and I think that’s the case with a lot of these social networks. The owners and the gurus big them up as it’s in their interests to do so, but let’s face it, life went on before them and who has the time to be active on them all? My Linkedin page is there if anyone is interested enough to read it, but in my business a lot is done via word of mouth and recommendation, not via an internet search. Of them all, Twitter has been far and away the best business networking tool. Indeed i have got business I would never have otherwise been in with a shout of getting, from it, but as far as Linkedin’s concerned I think primarily it’s relieve recruiters and big corporates of their money when they buy access to what is effectively just one big (but small percentage wise of total population) messy, generalist rather than niche, worldwide database.

I signed up to LinkedIn some years ago after someone I knew said I should join because of the ‘professional network’ you can build. I didn’t touch it for 6 years. I then thought about re-visiting it last year, seeing I was learning more about social media. I wasn’t that convinced much in the same way the comments seem to reflect, of it being anything other than an online CV tool.

I’ve since learned you can seek jobs, strengthen your profile by gaining recommendations, talk to people, set up discussions, participate in them, join groups, and read about industry news. Some good tools really.

But I just don’t have the time to devote to it. Outside of direct sourcing, I think it is a very powerful platform for developing a professional network. But where I blog, and tweet, LinkedIn just can’t compete for my time. I prefer those as engagement platforms. This is only personal preference, and no comment on my observations on the overall benefits of it or not.

As regards the invitations thing though. I too only approve connections with those I personally know. Had a recruiter from a competitor agency email me asking if I was interested an opportunity with them. I thanked him, let him know no, said I was surprised I was asked because my LI profile doesn’t actually reveal a lot about me, and asked for feedback about why he approached me specifically. I heard nothing back.

“I just don’t have the time to devote to it.” This is key. There are lots of social networks out there, each with their own merits, each which their owners and advocates will tell you are the best tihng since sliced bread. The trouble is, no one could possibly find the time to engage in all of them so it’s a case of having to be selective. My rule is Twitter – business networking Linkedin – I shoved my career history on there and linked up with some ex colleagues, Facebook – irritates the hell out of me with it’s trivial ‘like this, ‘do this survey’ blah blah nature but good to know what my daughter’s latest boyfriend problem is when I can be bothered to wade through the inane minutiae of other people’s lives (if Facebook is a serious recruitment vehicle I am a monkey’s uncle…have you met my nephews Chimp and Zee?). Myspace – I have a musician’s account – (fancy a laugh/some 80s pop rock… http://www.myspace.com/betenoire07) – but seldom visit it. There are loads more, but I’ve neither the time nor the inclination to explore them and that for me is the hit and miss nature of social media when it comes to recruitment. great for advertising a product or service, but far less reliable than job boards or even the good old press.

Alison,
I think you have to approach any social channel with a single question: “Why am I here?”. You will have your own objective of what you want to get back from it and this will dictate if it works. There are no rules over how you network or who with outside of your own.

On my part: I disorganise conferences like #trulondon, and Linked In events is invaluable. I post my blog in groups relevent to the topic and Linked In is the single biggest referrer to most posts. With Linked In share, it also provides the biggest source of sharing, bigger even than twitter. Questions have also been a great way to build contacts, but as a speaker, event organiser and sometimes consultant, a big network helps.

I also use the linked In outlook toolbar to check people who e-mail me, as well as looking in Linked In first for contact details of anyone I want to get in touch with. It is usually the most up to date source of reference.

linked In is invaluable for me. I find people that I want to network with there, then follow them on twitter first. 30% of profiles list twitter names. Engagement starts on twitter, and only then will I send a connection request. I don’t give anyone a reference that asks for one ever. I give them without request when people do good work for me. It’s my way of saying thanks. Now that Linked In have opened the API, you can use it to sign in and join open id sites. Many people prefer doing this via Linked In to avoid wall spam, over Facebook.

From a recruiting point of view, and the part HR play in this, the referral engine for recomending candidates from the networks of employees will prove very valuable in sourcing candidates.

Increasingly, information will be taken (with permission), from social profiles to update job applications, profiles and other sites, without the need to enter info every time. A good Linked In profile, kept up to date will be a great time saver.

Linked In works for me because of my networking objectives. You use it how you want to to meet your objectives, and don’t listen to anyone who says you must do this. I’m a massive advocate, but then it’s ideal for what I need.

just my thoughts, enjoying the new blog,

Bill

My

A lot of these comments are based on LinkedIn being a one to one contact channel. You will always get randoms wanting to connect (via social, email or socially). As in all walks of like, if you don’t want to, don’t. But seeing social channels as a personal communication opportunity is wrong. This barely scratches the surface of what could be possible. Think about what do you want to achieve with social mediums – in this case LinkedIn?

Hope you don’t mind but here are some ideas for possibly improving your LinkedIn experience…

1. your company profile on LinkedIn currently has nearly 1800 followers yet you don’t publish any jobs on there. I would resolve this by improving your account so that your jobs are published on your site where your followers can be notified
2. even with a restricted number of contacts, keep them informed of your interesting/hard to fill roles by posting links in your updates – BUT DON’T SPAM with too many updates
3. build your alumni by creating an informa alumni group. keep that group informed of what is now happening at Informa.
4. Build your own relevant group based on the demographic you feel you can add value to. In your case it may be media sales. here you can encourage activity and engagement whilst adding value with your own content. I run the Recruitment Futurology Group http://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=1879984. I keep the membership very restrictive and use it to add value to the HR and online recruitment community. I learn from it all the time and it has helped raise my company’s profile in our community.

There are lots of other ways in which you can improve yours and your company’s experience of LinkedIn and use it properly as a recruiting tool and somewhere to build a talent pool (sorry- I hate that word).

Hope this is useful. Be interested if people think I am talking a load of old cobblers.

Steve

You say “seeing social channels as a personal communication opportunity is wrong”. My observation would be that thousand upon thousand of people register with Linkedin and write up a bit about themselves in the hope that a recruiter searching for someone with experience in their particular field might happen upon them. Is that a false expectation?

I myself have a profile on there. I’m not after a job, but in the maybe six years I’ve been on there I have had not more than a handful of approaches. Maybe my profile is rubbish or my experience and skills sets not in demand.Maybe on paper I am too old and it’s the bright young things that get all the approaches, I don’t know, but what i do know is that in a desperate job market like the present one, many individual'[s must sign up to Linkedin thinking it;s another possible outlet to get spotted and maybe get an approach from a recruiter. Should people not be thinking that way?

Another interesting blog that I just can’t ignore (even though I ought to be job hunting, or ironing, or something other than this)…

I decided to update my LinkedIn profile when I heard I was being made redundant last year. I am yet to discover the real value other than staying connected to people you want to stay connected to. I really need to learn more about it – and I have no idea whether it will help me secure my next role…. time will tell, I guess.

I tend to accept invitations from and invite people I have interacted with, either in person or virtually. I do ignore invitations from some but I feel guilty about it – I know, that says more about me than I should probably reveal and I haven’t had extreme cases like Alison or Jose!!

LinkedIn does seem like the answer to ‘professional connecting’ – along with Twitter and blogs, of course. Facebook is a bit of fun for me, a place to share a joke with friends and family. At the moment, I am finding all of these welcome distractions but typically I don’t have the time for more than Twitter – unless my husband and kids are out that is :-).

My final word is that it all comes down to personal preference and what you are trying to achieve with LinkedIn, if anything at all.
My opinion is that anything goes, if you want to accept an invitation, do so, if you don’t, then don’t – even if it goes against the norm for you. Rules are restricting and they take the fun out of life!! And, if you chose not to play in the social media arena at all or be ‘LinkedOut’ like Graham then power to you – that’s fine too!!

Great post – great follow up too. I’m kicking all the deadwood off LinkedIn right now and after that, I’m going to prune the deadwood from my profile. Thanks all for the motivation!

I’m really enjoying the comments and interaction on this topic, thanks so much for sharing your experiences and use of LnkedIn.

Sukh, I certainly understand the issue of not having time to devote to it, think I’m probably with you there! Fascinating too when you tried to ask for feedback and interact, no response came. Reminds me of when I was asked for an expertise request by fellow HR person I didn’t know via LinkedIn, gave quite a full response and didn’t even get a ‘thank-you’ back. Sure that’s not always the case, but it was a bit annoying.

Alasdair – thanks for continuing the debate and adding your thoughts. Am very tempted to check out your musician’s MySpace page, quite partial to 80s pop rock!

Bill – I’m quite fascinated to hear about how you use LinkedIn and its given me plenty of food for thought about other uses and how I could develop it further without ‘spamming’ people or becoming a nuisance. I especially like how you find them on LI then engage on Twitter, I can see how that would work. I also really like the approach you take with giving references.

Steve, thanks so much for taking the time at looking at Informa and how they and I could get more out of LinkedIn – truly, I appreciate the feedback and its kind of you to give it and share your expertise. I can see the logic and benefit in what you suggest.

Sarah, lovely of you to pop in and comment – appreciate it hugely! I’mn sure you’re right that a lot of it is personal preference and using all the tools available.

Thanks for commenting Doug, good luck with all that pruning 🙂

This is a brilliant post Alison. Has really got me thinking. At first I felt I was too harsh, then too soft with LinkedIn invitations! Now I feel I have the balance right.

Social media has been a revolution for me since leaving a senior HR role and setting up my own business last year. I wouldn’t have said this a year ago, but I’m now comfortable to feel I ‘know’ someone I’ve never met if we have engaged at length on Twitter for example. I happily trust my intuition on people through social media, just as in real life. Hasn’t got me in trouble – yet! Alison

I turned down a LinkedIn request yesterday as both being members of the same group isn’t reason enough to link to someone. If their profile is uninspiring I’m afraid I have a “what’s in it for me?” approach and reject the request.
Lots of food for thought here – both in your blog and in the comments.
Thanks Sarah

I agree with all your reasons! I don’t link to people I don’t know face-to-face.

I seem to get a lot of “connect” requests from MBA alumni, and I reckon they are working a numbers game. Some even get narked when I decline them!

I haven’t worked out how to make LinkedIn work for me; thinking I was missing something, I went to a talk last summer by a LinkedIn “ambassador”. It was an interesting talk – and it was clear I wasn’t missing anything!

Like many social circles, perhaps one needs to spend more time there before it will click – although I’m not sure I really want to!

I’m genuinely bowled over by all the interest and comments from this post, thank you so much.

Alison, thank you so much for commenting, its lovely to see you on here! I agree with you that you can quickly feel that you ‘know’ someone on Twitter and develop an intuition about them

Sarah, glad its not just me! I was on the verge of including the “we’re in the same group” in my list of reasons, but thought I was perhaps being harsh. But really unless you know someone, or really feel you can forge a meaningful connection with them, why would you want to accept?

Hi Patrick, great to see you on here, thanks for checking out my blog. I can imagine that MBA alumni requests would indeed fit into the category of people you would want to decline!

Can I just say what a relief to find someone who already knows what they’re talking about on the internet. You at some point know how to bring an issue to light and make it appealing. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

Wow, what a lovely compliment – thank you so much! I am still quite new to blogging, so really lovely to have such positive feedback and glad you like reading the posts!

[…] Chisnell is the HR Juggler – so-called because she has an HR job and twins. The first question she asks herself when someone invites her to connect on LinkedIn? “Have I sacked you for […]

LinkedIn ‘invitations’ are spam. Always and every time. When a company I haven’t agreed to be contacted by sends me ‘invitations’ with no way to say “actually, no thanks”, then has the cheek to send me repeated ‘reminders’ when I take the only negative action possible (i.e., ignoring the unwanted invitation) that is spamming, plain and simple, no matter which particular idiot who imagines they have some vague ‘connection’ with me was stupid enough to give them my address. After the first couple of these intrusions, I contacted LinkedIn support, and told them that unless I was added to the global suppression list they are required by law under CAN-SPAM to maintain, I would sure. After several rounds of pretending to musunderstand their legal obligations and asking me to “change settings in my account” (that doesn’t exist, and never will exist – BECAUSE I AM NOT INTERESTED IN WHAT THEY ARE SELLING), they finally got the message. I hope that someone gets these spamming cretings in a courtroon and shuts them down; they’re good for nothing, and merely a haven for spamming idiots like recruiters and unskilled job seekers.

I shut down my account today after being with linked-in since March 2010. I get nothing out of the useless social media outlet other than people adding me trying to promote themselves. Its annoying and a total waste of time. As if you’d cold contact someone you want to do business by linked-in. Surely you’d make the effort to look them up via the public company website.

In reference to discussions; people are so worried about their company image or the image they’re trying to put forward it makes discussions meaningless. Not to mention that i have seen many opinions on linked-in discussions censored or stifled by ‘moderators’ who are worried that certain opinions may damage some ‘brand’ they’re unable to even articulate. Total waste of time and therefore money.

[…] LinkedIn: 5 Reasons Why I Won’t Connect […]

Some of you are way too uptight and uppity. Nobody ever died from knowing too many people. When you get rid of connections you are also getting rid of their connections and so on.

I really don’t understand the point of connecting ONLY with people you already know well. What are you going to get out of that. I have met lot’s of interesting people on Linkedin and only one or two wasted my time.
I connect to everyone… I can always delete later.

In fact I connected to someone who I found interesting and was given a fine piece of furniture as a promotion.

Some of you really need to get over yourselves.

I received a very random request and I’m not even on linkedin which led me to your article.

[…] LinkedIn: 5 Reasons Why I Won’t Connect […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 234 other followers

HR Juggler’s Archive

%d bloggers like this: