LinkedIn tips – why I “think” I regret becoming an open networker

by K B , updated on August 8, 2010

One of the decisions I made early on in online networking was to become an “open networker” on LinkedIn. For those of you who don’t use LinkedIn, becoming an open networker is where you join a group and are added to a list of people who are open to connecting up with people. Other networkers can use this list to make contact with you. Three years on after becoming an open networker I have thousands of connections. Now I kind of regret it.

I say “kind of” because there are advantages to being an open networker. One is that it expands your list of contacts by the bucket load. That means you are able to research thousands, if not millions of people in your broader network. This is great if you want to use LinkedIn to understand people, where they work and how they may help you.

The down side of being an open networker is that I am fair game. Now I receive hundreds of emails from people I don’t know. Many of them have nothing to do with my business. People have assumed that since I am an open networker that I want to hear about their bridge building business in California or a great deal on grapes in Penang.  I’m in Sydney and if you’re reading this, you know what I do. It sounds bizarre, because it is bizarre. I am simply being spammed. While I received a few interesting emails among all of these, I’m sure many more good contacts have been lost in the masses.

For me, one of the few things to come out  this deluge of emails, is a bit more insight on email impact and ethics. I try to understand how people communicate and how to improve my own communication. When I’ve read these emails I’ve realised how easy it is to all sound the same. If I open an email, it’s because it’s been a really clever or targeted email, and short and snappy, or the person sending it has “lucked on” a topic that has interested me.

With thousands of connections in my in box, I also find it hard to manage the masses. It’s a challenge to find people that I really care about and want to form deeper relationships with.  (If anyone reading this has that secret, please let me know. I’d really appreciate it.)

Another thing that I didn’t think about when I opened myself up to contacts is how other people may view this when they look at my profile. Many head-hunters I have spoken to say that they look at the richness of your connections and who’s in your network. With so many contacts I am sure I look either really impressive, or really indiscriminate.

My main take out of doing all of this is that I had hesitation about becoming an open networker. But I ignored my gut instinct.  At the time I didn’t have a good reason not to do it. I now know from working within online networking, Twitter and social media, that the community influences the way people use the forum. So with LinkedIn, many people have seen people hooking up and emailing each other, seeming indiscriminately and it becomes the “done thing.”  It snowballs.

What I do know is that I’m not generally a person that works a room and hands out my business card to 25 people, even at a professional networking event. I prefer to chat to two or three people and get to know them. Open networking seems to be a bit like that spray can kind of approach. I’m not saying that’s wrong. I just don’t think that’s my natural style.

My main take out of all of this, is my networking style worked for me one way offline, so I  should have approached it that way online. Perhaps that’s  a good rule of thumb for anyone, really.

Have a read of point five in this post by the LinkedIn guy. It’s very telling.

K B

Do you make one of these top 5 insanely dumb mistakes on LinkedIn? Click on this link , and we’ll send you our FREE report, PLUS some awesome tips to help you lure recruiters and employers to your LinkedIn profile.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

tsimidtchieva August 9, 2010 at 7:23 am

RT @InterviewIQ: #linkedin #socialrecruiting Reasons not to open network on Linkedin http://interviewiq.com.au/linkedin-tips-

InterviewIQ August 9, 2010 at 5:45 am

#linkedin #socialrecruiting Reasons not to open network on Linkedin http://interviewiq.com.au/linkedin-tips-

tekiebelu August 10, 2010 at 3:18 am

RT @InterviewIQ #linkedin #socialrecruiting Reasons not to open network on Linkedin http://interviewiq.com.au/linkedin-tips-

GoodPeopleJapan August 9, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Hey Karalyn,

Nice Blog. Just found it through Neal Schaffer & Windmill Networking.

I joined LinkedIn in 2004 and fully embraced the LION approach. Keep in mind that until about 2007, it did matter how many people were in your network in regards to searches & browsing, & being found. A little of that remains but mostly your searches etc. are capped.

I was never one for inviting people I didn’t either know or have had some online or in person connection with and soon dropped the LION label, while still being open to direct approaches & still to this day accepting invitations unless the profile is obviously fake (not a persons name, no connections, no details for example).

I stopped sharing my connections though, as you’ll see with my approach outlined below.

I totally agree about the uneducated, not personalized or even targeted approaches that amount to Spam Karalyn. Baffling, at the least when you look at what is an otherwise well presented Profile and clearly successful person sending it…

Occasionally, and in group moderation I try to educate, but it’s rarely responded to or appreciated. The click & hope approach rules in peoples use of online communication channels – a hangover from SEO perhaps… (SEO = fool x% of the masses, make a little/wads of cash. Hey, I guess it works some of the time, for some things). In some ways, we just have to accept the ‘noise’, as I call it.

What I did do though when I got serious about using LinkedIn for really connecting with people and expanding my ‘true’ network was:

1. Close off my connections for browsing (an unfortunate must that is more than made up for by the next approach)

2. Invite all the people in my local area (Tokyo, Japan) to join a closed group I started, for B2B in this area (no recruiters, financial planners/appointment setters, Network Marketers, B2C where everyone is a potential customer etc.. & no one from overseas unless they were referred & have some connection to doing business in Japan).
The concept in also not LinkedIn & online based really (though touching base happens there). It’s about meeting in person, in small groups around proposed subjects of interest & also about me introducing my network to each other.

3. I became a moderator then admin to another large group (Business In Japan, 11,000+ members w/wide, 4,500+ Japan based) and so now when people from overseas invite me, if they have taken the time to make a personal approach or have an interesting profile for doing business or working in Japan, I recommend they join ‘BIJ’. If they’re in Japan and fit the profile I recommend (personal approach) we meet up in person some time, even at an event, sometimes suggesting an event (there are SOO many), and I may mention GoodPeople Japan, my group and BIJ Group if they don’t appear to be members.

4. I focus on these areas, engaging with people through all channels, expanding out into Twitter and (reluctantly) soon perhaps Facebook.

5. I focus on spending 20% of the time in person being very clear on how people can help me, and 80% of my time understanding and suggesting how I might help others.

All this means I’m busy yes, but I’m busy with ‘real’ people, the people behind the numbers of connections, followers & ‘friends’.

Other than that, I’m still learning how to best engage (so thanks for more than one post I’ve read of yours or hit ‘Read Later’ on, a widget from Instapaper), how to best help and define where it is I’m going, while having a whole heap of fun!

Thanks again, fellow Aussie ‘LinkedIn’-er! (This Aussie uses LinkedIn)

Jason
“Connecting GoodPeople”
http://jp.linkedin.com/in/goodpeople
@GoodPeopleJapan
http://www.goodpeople.jp

InterviewIQ August 10, 2010 at 3:44 am

@tekiebelu Thanks for the RT Tenika.

Karalyn August 10, 2010 at 4:25 am

Jason, Thank you so much for the comment on how to use LinkedIn effectively. There are some wonderful tips here. I plan on putting a few into practice. And if I ever visit Japan, I promise to email you in the “proper” way! :-)

Paul Buijs October 5, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Hi Karalyn,

Interesting read! I love LinkedIn and reading how other people interact with it.

While I still see the value in being an Open Networker (doing so subtly in my case), your post reminds me of a question that comes to mind every once in while, and it one that applies to a bunch of social networking sites in general. Once you realized that your network is larger than you’d like, say for too much noise muffling out the status updates of people you actually care about, how do you turn back the clock? Deleting contacts, connections or friends isn’t worthwile, helpful to your online persona and is way too time intensive. LinkedIn should set up an “inner circle” function so you can keep up with the connections you care about but still be connected and available to all of your first degreee connections. Of course this would assume LinkedIn accept the way many of us choose to grow our networks :)

Thanks for checking out my post by the way!

Paul

StacyZapar November 20, 2010 at 3:03 am

@InterviewIQ But you’re right… Being an open networker is much more “work”!!! :)

StacyZapar November 20, 2010 at 3:06 am

@InterviewIQ Veryinteresting post, Karalyn. I def feel your pain. If it’s obvious spam, I delete. If it’s a genuine request, I try to help.

BarbaraOBrien November 20, 2010 at 3:30 am

RT @InterviewIQ: #interviews #jobsearch #LI Why I think I regret becoming and open networker http://interviewiq.com.au/linkedin-tips-

InterviewIQ November 20, 2010 at 2:50 am

#interviews #jobsearch #LI Why I think I regret becoming and open networker http://interviewiq.com.au/linkedin-tips-

InterviewIQ November 20, 2010 at 3:50 am

@StacyZapar Thanks Stacy. I am trying to work out a strategy to manage it all. How is your blog coming along?

StacyZapar November 20, 2010 at 6:54 pm

@InterviewIQ Thanks Karalyn. It’s coming along nicely. Not much of a writer, but pretty fun so far. Your blog is an inspiration to me! :)

StacyZapar November 20, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Thank you Karalyn! You’re a sweetheart! :) http://www.stacyzapar.blogspot.com RT @InterviewIQ: @StacyZapar The blog looks great, Stacy. Good read.

InterviewIQ November 20, 2010 at 8:41 pm

@StacyZapar The blog looks great, Stacy. Good read.

Holly @ Carousel Consultancy January 17, 2012 at 2:58 am

Great post, Karalyn! I originally only connected with people who I knew personally or with whom I had had a meaningful exchange online. Later, I started to open up a bit, and as a result, now I have a wider network of people I don’t necessarily remember why I linked with them in the first place. This is why I’m starting to implement a new tag strategy so I can always remember where I met them and why I decided to link up with them. Hopefully, this will allow me to let more people into my connections without forgetting why I wanted to connect in the first place.

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