Why I’m a jerk on LinkedIn.

With over 200 million users in 200 countries and territories, LinkedIn has definitely become one of the #CoolKids. As we run around trying to keep up with the demands of our lives, LinkedIn gives us a fairly simple way to stay in touch and up-to-date with folks in our business networks, jobs and discussions/groups.

Yet, even with all the positives, LinkedIn bugs me. Why then do I use it on an almost daily basis? Because LinkedIn itself isn’t the problem. It’s the behavior of some of the users.

Get a grip, people. #ThinkBeforeYouClick

Requests to connect

This is what it’s all about, right? Connecting with people I already know and expanding my network. Within reason. This week alone, I received 10 requests to connect from people to whom I had no logical connection. They weren’t coming via one of my connections – they were just people who saw me and decided to ask me to link in with them.

But I won’t. Connecting with someone lets them into my network. Why would I do that if I have no idea who they are or what they’re all about?

Quit spamming me. Because then I have to ignore your request, which makes me look bad just because you don’t have manners.

Don’t send connection requests to strangers. If you do it because you’re trying to build a following, stop it. High numbers of connections might make you feel like one of the #CoolKids, but unless your experience and skills are good, your connections are worthless.

Endorsements

I don’t give them and I don’t want to receive them.

In March, LinkedIn announced that more than 1 billion endorsements had been given to 58 million professionals. I wonder how many are valid. I’ve had people I’ve never worked with endorse me for this skill or the other. I can only assume they’re looking for reciprocity. I don’t play that game. If you want to tell others about our wonderful experience working together, please write me a recommendation. (Yes, that’s different than an endorsement and the words are too similar. #LinkedInFail)

If you really want to help one of your connections, put more effort into it than the trigger finger endorsement. Write a useful recommendation telling the story of what the recommendee did that helped the recommender’s business. Give tangible and specific examples. I’m calling a moratorium on recommendations stating the person is “a valuable partner,” or “collaborates well with all levels in the organization,” or – my favorite – “a real joy to work with.” #GetToThePoint

Groups

There’s nothing better than a group of smart people discussing an interesting topic. There’s nothing worse than one person dominating the conversation with information that, oh by the way, just happens to highlight one of their projects or accomplishments.

Way too many LinkedIn Groups have become havens for self-promoting trolls working under the guise of helping the group. I’ve stopped participating. Instead, I’m the jerk who monitors from time to time to see what’s being discussed – but I don’t post. I’m not interested in providing #TrollFodder

If you find a LinkedIn group that interests you – and there are many to choose from – please participate because you want to hear others’ opinions, not just your own.

Behave on LinkedIn the same way you would at an in-person networking event. Picture yourself standing in front of a room of hundreds of people with your arm around someone’s shoulder. You lean into the microphone, smiling, and say, “Folks, I’d like to endorse….oh….just a moment…what’s your name again?” Would you do that? Of course not. #StayClassy

Get my point? Consider your actions. Don’t dilute the value of LinkedIn. It really does provide value. #IfYouLetIt

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