Are you treating your LinkedIn contacts like notches on your social media bedpost?

25 Feb

I was talking with a friend today about some job advice she got. It was suggested to her that she should have, among other social media connections, at least 500 LinkedIn contacts.

Ridiculous advice.

Who cares if you have 500 contacts on LinkedIn if you don’t know any of them. Quality trumps quantity surely.

Today I signed into LinkedIn to find 6 new contact requests. I didn’t know any of them and none made a case for why I should want to have them as contacts. They were just blind, acquisitive requests. I ignored them all.

What are they worth to me?

If any of them had bothered to take the time to write: “Hey Doug, you don’t know me, but I know your ex-colleague/that campaign you wrote/that thing you did last summer” etc, I would have been in a position to consider the value.


Just collectors.

Like my friend, I know everyone who I am connected with on LinkedIn. I value those contacts.

Am I missing something?


18 Responses to “Are you treating your LinkedIn contacts like notches on your social media bedpost?”

  1. Jody Beck February 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    Agreed. I have experienced similar encounters and, without explanation of the intent to connect, I wonder why the contact is even bothering. Waste of my time, waste of their time, no?

  2. dougbrowncreative February 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Jody, yes! It’s total waste of time. Just people teasing up their numbers like a bird fluffing up its plumage in the hopes of getting laid.

    Wait, did I just say that?

  3. Jody Beck February 25, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    Yes Doug. You did say that. But then, you say a lot of very interesting things that we appreciate.

  4. dougbrowncreative February 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    I feel a tweet headline coming on….. 🙂

  5. Evan Horgan February 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    I find this post quite relevant as someone who just joined LinkedIn last week in an attempt to increase my social media presence. A friend of mine commented to me the other day about my 1 connection, saying they had over 300. I neglected to mention the fact that I had only been a member for 3 days, but brought up the fact that at least I knew 100% of my connections, something I knew they could not match.

    In the battle for quality vs. quantity it appears the trend these days is falling to the latter. I am glad to see you feel the same as I do Doug.

  6. dougbrowncreative February 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Evan, avaricious acquisition never amounts to anything admirable. Follow your gut in social media. Your behaviour should mirror your values and so don’t do anything that doesn’t line up. Great to have your comment on our blog!

  7. Felix February 25, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    I completely agree. Recently I’ve been getting more and more requests which leave me extremely puzzled.

    What’s the use of having contacts when you feel you can’t even approach them since they’re literally complete strangers that added you with LinkedIn’s generic friend message?

    “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” Bob has indicated you as a friend. Sure Bob. Sure.

  8. dougbrowncreative February 25, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    If your name even IS Bob.

    Some may use LinkedIn for the groups and to access information and opinions, and that’s terrific. But I don’t think for a second that’s what Employment Advisor was on about. He was talking about numbers, pure and vulgar.

    Great comment Felix.

  9. GV February 25, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    I’m lucky and you are to that I’m not on LinkedIn.

  10. dougbrowncreative February 25, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    You being on LinkedIn would be no issue for me GV. I don’t know who you are, so I would simply ignore your request. Cheers!

  11. mike fromowitz February 25, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Linkedin has put me in contact with some old colleagues that I lost in the ether some years ago. It was nice to hear from them again. Some people use it aggressively and swear by it. I joined a Venture Capital (VC) Linkedin Group once to see if I could help a client raise venture capital. All I got for my efforts were messages from posers, all trying to find a way of making a fast buck. There wasn’t a real VC amongst them. None with deep pockets. Most didn’t have 50 cents in their pockets. Most of these people were fakes.

    The Internet, and Linkedin, allows you to be something you aren’t.

    The Internet is wonderful, isn’t it? It works magic. You can buy anything you want, meet new people, find information… and lose all your money to scammers, to fake companies and fraudulent web sites. Fraud on the web is netting cyber-criminals millions. Sophisticated gangs are setting up fake websites that mimic well-established companies and banks.
    They do it on Linkedin too.

    It’s remarkable how the Internet allows people and businesses to pretend to be something they aren’t. Even before some clever entrepreneurs have customers, they can have the ability to pretend that they have a legitimate business with sales. they do it by putting up a good looking website.

    In fact, you could start a business you know very little about, and still look like a genius.

    Today, the Internet makes it easy to dress up a website that reflects a more professional operation than it actually is, and a clever way to cash in on the power of Internet marketing. The strategy: Build the customer base first, and then figure out how to sell it.

    You can make Linkedin part of this too.

    People first identify a business niche or a hot growth area that looks ripe. Then they buy the domain name, build the site, add some content, and wait for customers. Simple. The whole strategy might sound slightly deceptive, and in a sense it is. But the people behind these websites believe that as so long as a customer gets what he wants, there should not be a problem.

    The Internet can be deceiving—a fake, a sham, a masquerade. If you can make a site look pretty and make it sound credible, you can pull inquiries in for just about anything. Turn a website into one great sales-generation machine.
    Take for example this Chopard case. When several unsuspecting owners of Chopard fake watches sent their watches to Chopard for repair, the company discovered that they were not genuine. The watch owners were deceived into believing they were the owners of authentic Chopard watches and many even had what appeared to be legitimate certificates of authenticity and warranty papers. The watches were apparently sold by unauthorized dealers and sellers on auction websites such as eBay who attempted to claim that they were authentic Chopard watches.

    Apple iPods, Gillette razor blades, Absolut vodka, Durex condoms, cancer drugs and antibiotics, Yamaha motorcycles and Mont Blanc pens—there is nothing you can think of that’s truly immune to counterfeiting.

    Wherever there’s a strong brand, there’s an opportunity for the fakers to be on the net with your product or brand. However the accountants may value brands, these are the people who really know just what your brand equity means. And they’re out to get a piece of it.

    Linkedin is a brand now.

    It’s filled with people who are out to get you too.

    Sigh… I am still hooked on Linkedin however.

    ‘Cause it’s nice to visit with friends once in a while and see what’s driving them.

  12. Avril Matthews February 25, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Thanks Doug you have validated my gut on this.

    Really comes down to specific use of each channel. I think people get mixed up and like on Twitter or FB are simply going for stats.

    I have stayed away from FB contests too for this very reason. Why would I want people to like “us” who are not legitimately interested in what we do or who we are? Don’t get me wrong I totally get the exponential aspect of what is possible but am simply not interested in attracting followers for to bolster stats.
    Another awesome blog.

  13. dougbrowncreative February 25, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    > Mike, I can’t help feeling that this one’s a larger issue that’s bubbling up in you. I would hate to be responsible for prompting such an outpouring! The Internet is just the product of the people using it. Per the post, I am selective about the people I engage with and do business with. If I don’t know you, I feel free to ignore you. Not you I mean! I recommend the approach to everyone, especially on LinkedIn. Thanks for offering up your thoughts.

    > Avril I think that someone you know will go out of their way to help you: spread the word, gather the troops, come to your aid. A good contact is worth 100 bad ones. So the numbers game is simply not one worth playing. No doubt that is your experience too, with the great relationships you have created in Victoria and beyond. Thanks for the kind comment and congratulations to The Inn at Laurel Point for becoming BC’s only carbon-neutral hotel! Simply amazing.

  14. Murray February 26, 2011 at 11:56 pm #

    It seems like a simple misunderstanding of appropriate application of a principle. If you want to become mayor of New York, getting enough people to vote for you will accomplish the goal regardless of your competence to be the Mayor, on the other hand, all the votes in the world will not get you position as a violinist with the New York Philharmonic if you cant play violin. In some applications numbers alone, very much make a difference, in other applications perhaps not so much. In the case of LinkedIn and getting a job, actual capability would seem to me more desirable than mere numerical popularity.

  15. Connor February 27, 2011 at 2:28 am #

    I couldn’t agree more here. I once had a potential employer attempt to add me on Facebook only days after meeting this person. I politely declined as I didn’t truly “know” them.

    I do, however, have a different (and perhaps more lenient) set of rules governing my use of LinkedIn. I may have accepted a LinkedIn request from the same person. If it’s someone I know *and* want to keep in contact with, I’ll gladly welcome their invitation.

    I hope there will be a social media component, namely LinkedIn, to your talk next week. Personally, I still think LinkedIn is the most undervalued and underused platform in the student space.

  16. dougbrowncreative February 27, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    > Good analogy Murray. Of course if you’re running for public office, you’re automatically a whore for public support and it probably doesn’t matter where it comes from. I don’t think such a positioning does you any favours in other businesses. But maybe I’m being naive.

    > There are certainly different sets of “rules” for the different spaces and that’ a good point to make Connor. I believe your business reputation is tied to the people you do business with, and your LinkedIn contacts reflect that group. It’s a bit like an endorsement.

    What a great idea to touch on LinkedIn next week. I will add it to the list. Thanks for the your comment.

  17. Jordan Clarke February 28, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    This is a nice summary of why I don’t find LinkedIn all that useful. It’s at the very bottom of the social media food chain for me.

  18. dougbrowncreative February 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    It seems to have a very different role Jordan. There is no real-time conversation that happens here. It’s evolving but still doesn’t seem very social to me.

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