If you’ve been using LinkedIn for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed activity on the once “professional” or business networking site has rapidly deteriorated into a jumble of junk. For many years, there’s been a steady influx of people using the site for anything and everything except what most of us would consider professional purposes.
1) Posting riddles and jokes
2) Posting puzzles
3) Posting word jumbles and math quizzes
4) Posting lion pictures or cartoons
5) Posting the same thought, blog link or ad in several groups simultaneously
6) Posting mindless slogans such as: “hire for character, train for skill”
7) Posting IQ tests accompanied by “only 10% get this right”
8) Posting endlessly repeated cliché inspirational quotes
9) Posting eye charts
10) Posting content that would be superfluous even on Facebook
11) Posting irrelevant, off-topic content or comments in groups or discussions
12) Posting images or other content for the purpose of gathering sympathy “likes”
13) Posting any approving comments and/or sharing any of the above to further perpetuate such activity
In addition to the above nonsense cluttering up everyone’s timeline, many people also send broadcast messages to all or most of their connections at once. Which means the content is usually irrelevant to the majority of recipients.
Obviously some LinkedIn members are merely using the site to collect connections for assorted reasons beyond the intended purpose of doing so. Typically, these types are indentified by the fact that they don’t bother to actually be acquainted professionally with their targets. Rather, they just randomly send out generic invitations requests knowing that most people are too busy or too lazy to click the ignore or “I don’t know __” response. Once connected, they acquire the ability to add that person’s contact information to their email database or otherwise engage in spamming activity.
So what can be done to reduce or perhaps even eventually eliminate all of this unpleasantness?
For starters, scrutinize each connection invitation, especially those using the default generic language. Examine the profile to at least guestimate whether it might belong to an actual human member of the business world or whether it could just be a phony account set up for nefarious purposes.
Don’t feel obligated to connect with anyone you don’t know. And, don’t hesitate to report or flag obvious spam accounts either.
Contrary to certain opinions, it is perfectly acceptable to only accept new connection requests from those with whom you are already acquainted. Unless you yourself are interested in expanding your own network for the sake of having more connections, it is 100% reasonable to focus on quality versus quantity.
Consider sending a personal reply note when accepting connection requests from strangers. The content could range from your own professional positioning statement, to details about what you do for a living, or anything related to your personal networking philosophy. You can even include a “disclaimer” message suggesting the type of interaction that would and would not be appropriate between the new contact and yourself.
Set the right example by personalizing your own connection requests and only sending them when it makes sense for both parties to connect. For example, remind the person how/when/where you met or refresh his/her memory about how you two know each other if it’s been a while since you were in contact.
Refrain from automatically requesting something from a new connection – especially if you don’t know each other quite well. For instance, if you happen to be looking for a new job, it is not your new network connection’s duty to assist with that process. Nor, it is reasonable to expect a recommendation, referral or introduction to someone else to assist with that process.
Be considerate of your network’s time, resources and professional connections. If you do believe the circumstances are appropriate to request assistance from members of your network, make sure to make it as simple and convenient for them to understand your situation and provide specific information about how they might help.
Be sure to acknowledge and thank anyone for replying, even if they are not able to supply the exact type of help you are seeking.
Finally, don’t be afraid to hide (or better yet DISCONNECT from) anyone that undermines your interest in visiting the site due to their inappropriate actions or unreasonable requests.
If everyone pitched in the counteract these unprofessional acts, those responsible would probably find another place to populate. Just a thought…