LinkedIn Networking: Selective or Open?   5 comments

If you’re on LinkedIn much at all it won’t be long before you come across a LION.

Lion lounging

“A lion?”

No, a LION–a LinkedIn Open Networker. These are a special breed, folks who have decided they will connect with anyone and everyone who wants to connect (even strangers!). LIONs are often in recruiting or sales, industries that benefit from having as many contacts as possible. And there are definite professional benefits to this approach. Who wouldn’t like to have thousands of people to reach out to with a question or request?

The decision to be a LION or to be a more strategic networker is a personal one. I have chosen the latter route. It really all depends on how you plan to use your network.

“‘Use’ my network? That sounds a bit selfish.”

Not at all. A network is there to be used. Whether it’s a network of friends for entertainment, a network of family for emotional support or a business network for advice, we all have these networks because they provide value to us–we are using them. It’s only selfish if you use your network more than you give back to it.

But I digress.

Let’s return to our use of a network. Most of us, myself included, are suited for targeted, selective networks. We want to know (at least to some degree) the people in our network. However, even though I am a selective networker I don’t set the bar very high. Mostly I want to feel like you contacted ME in particular for a specific reason. That it was purposeful and not simply a sales pitch or spam bot. This way if someone comes to me and is interested in connecting with one of my contacts I know enough to know how the two people will best connect.

Either option is completely acceptable, so it just depends on your approach. Are you using this tool to generate sales? Then being a LION may be the way for you to go. If you prefer a little more intimacy with your contacts I recommend keeping things selective.

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Image credit: cheetah100 via Flickr


5 responses to “LinkedIn Networking: Selective or Open?

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  1. I personally prefer to keep my LinkedIn network limited to professional contacts I actually know and trust. I do this primarily because I use LinkedIn to give and receive referrals, and I do that because my reputation (and my network’s) is at stake (e.g. if I refer an unknown who ends up being a spammer or terrible professional). I’m definitely curious about these LIONs and how well that approach works for them.

  2. Thanks for this post; this is something I often wonder about. How do you handle invites from recruiters you don’t know? I got one recently and didn’t add her. I’d never met her at all. I didn’t want her to suddenly be bombarding or bothering my network and then my contacts being annoyed at me. After all, some of my connections are my clients and I tend to err on the safe side.

    On the other hand, maybe people WANT to be contacted by recruiters. Also, people’s networks are getting so big now, sometimes I wonder how much people “hold you responsible” for your connections’ actions.

  3. Like any exclusive club, a network that is selective can be a very valuable resource. I started off that way, but later decided I needed a way to keep in touch with professional contacts besides Facebook (since I keep that very personal) and so started to open up my LinkedIn network to more people. For me that provides an effective balance.

    It depends on the person, but I generally don’t accept unsolicited invitations from recruiters. Keep in mind that you can change your settings so that your contacts can’t see your other contacts (unless you have contacts in common, they’ll see that). For better or worse, they only have an all or none approach, so either your contacts can see all of your contacts or none of them.

    Also, since I post my email in my profile and make it available to everyone, I would not blame my contacts or their contacts for contacting me. If I didn’t want to be contacted I wouldn’t post my info! I accept that as a condition of being accessible. So it would have to be a pretty egregious issue for me to think negatively of someone for something one of their contacts did.

    • That’s a good point about the email accessibility. I also post my email in my profile, but sometimes I forget that not everyone does! It’s hard to know sometimes what the proper “etiquette” is in certain social media situations, so your info was very helpful.

      I can’t see myself ever being a LION, but it must work for some people.

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