My Love/Hate Relationship with LinkedIn

I dedicate this complaining blog post to Andy Rooney.

Did you ever notice you get tons of LinkedIn requests? I do. Lots from vendors. Lots from job hunters. People I used to work with. Most from people that I’ve never met (creepy). And now and then, I get them from competitors.

Imagine this scenario. A competitor walks in to your office. He says, “Hey, can you put your entire client and prospect database on disc for me?” “Of course not,” you say. Same guy sends you an invitation to LinkedIn, and you happily click ‘ACCEPT’ without much thought. Now depending on the size of your network, haven’t you done something very similar?

It’s not as if you weren’t warned every time you’ve ever accepted someone’s invitation either. Here’s the standard message that comes with the invitation:

“Mr. Competitor’s connections could be useful to you.After accepting Mr. Competitor’s invitation, check Mr. Competitor’s connections to see who else you may know and who you might want an introduction to. Building these connections can create opportunities in the future.”

That sounds great! But wait. Isn’t that a 2-way street? Call me a curmudgeon but I really don’t want to help my competitors “build connections to create opportunities in the future.” I really don’t.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that LinkedIn be ignored. There are very important reasons to use LinkedIn. It is highly optimized and helps drive traffic and boosts search ranks. Unfortunately the spammers realize that too and if you manage a group you know what I’m talking about. Some of the groups are terrific and offer a valuable opportunity to share with like minds. (Try Insurance Journal’s for example, with over 5,500 members.) LinkedIn also provides valuable (although volunteered) intel about potential employees and industry contacts..

LinkedIn so far has over 135 million members, and in early August CEO Jeff Weiner (wonder if he’s related to Anthony…never mind) said that the company adds an average of two members per second. Two members per SECOND! Yeowza.

For these reasons, I have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn. It can be quite a distraction in a world of distractions. In fact, it just about drove me crazy until I changed my email preferences. By the way, if you haven’t done that, while on the site, just put your curser over your name in the upper right corner and select ‘settings’ then select ’email preferences’ on the left hand side.

So if we know each other, or should be connected, let’s connect! But if you are my competitor, good luck “building your connections to create opportunities in the future.” I’m not gonna help you do that though.

How do you feel about it? Am I wrong? Talk to me.