….. An Most Are!

Before I go further, I need to offer a disclaimer and apology to a very small number of friends and colleagues who are LinkedIn LIONs. Having said that, I do wonder why they choose to put themselves in such bad company. But I will be making some tough statements about LinkedIn LIONs. I don’t mean to insult those friends who are LIONs, but I don’t want to clutter this post with continued apologies to you.

LinkedIn is tremendously powerful in helping each of us better connect with each other, as well as discover important new contacts. But as with any great tool, there are people that twist it in ways that were never intended. Over time, they start diminishing the value of the tool–or at least make the community using the tool very wary.

LinkedIn LIONs, fit into that category. Sure there are some that say that LIONs provide a valuable service in helping dramatically expand the reach of our networks, but I believe that is more hype, probably perpetuated by LIONs, than truth. Since the indiscriminately build their networks, the probability they are systematically building access to people I’d like to know is pretty low.

While I disagree with the principles of open networking, I have little problem with those who are open networkers, but are relatively passive in their activity.

I get invitations from friends and colleagues who are open networkers. I gladly accept most of them because we have a relationship–so it makes sense to connect with them.

I get invitations from open networkers who I don’t know. I rarely accept them, just like I don’t accept a large number of invitations I get. As an example, I don’t know why having a relationship with a hairdresser (no knock on hairdressers) in Nigeria, who has 20 connections, means anything to either of us. Likewise, I see no value in establishing a relationship with someone who’s only “value proposition” is their ability to “shop” contacts. I don’t want anyone shopping their relationship with me, so I don’t want to be associated with people who do that with others.

Most LIONs however don’t send invitations because LinkedIn limits that activity. Some try InMails, but LinkedIn is changing the rules on them. I report all of these unwanted communications as SPAM. If more people did this, it creates a huge problem for these indiscriminate networking spammers.

But this is creating an emerging category of LinkedIn LIONs who are choosing to be particularly aggressive in their networking. They pollute discussion streams in groups–not adding anything to the discussion other than a “connect with me request.” I’ve seen great discussions destroyed by LION after LION piling onto a thread. (Perhaps they have a group where they post links to discussions they can destroy.)

Lately, I’ve been having an unfortunate running battle with LIONs (it’s amazing the same names keep popping up) on a number of my LinkedIn Pulse articles. They are destroying great discussions–discussions I value and learn from.

It’s interesting when you look at the profiles of these Idiots. Most of them have pretty weak or even false backgrounds. I love those who declare themselves as networking or social media experts. Anyone who has studied these areas, knows these are the worst possible practices in engaging and building a community.

It takes no talent to build an extremely large network. We see that in LinkedIn (unfortunately, too many people blindly accept invitations). We’ve seen it in Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and others.

It takes real talent and thoughtfulness to build a strong, loyal, engaged community of followers. And those that have invested in doing so, never betray the trust of that community.

These Idiots will continue to try to destroy the experience for us. What they are too dull to realize, is their actions drive the people they are trying to attract away, to other channels and communities, so they are destroying the tool they are trying to leverage for whatever insane purposes. In fact, we see alternatives to LinkedIn springing up, which are seeking to address the numbers/quantity/SPAM issues.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. I do have a strategy for dealing with these Idiots. For every unwanted InMail I get, I report it as SPAM. If I get multiples from the same person, I block them. For everyone that I see in a discussion thread I’ve started, whether in a group or Pulse, I delete their comment and report it to LinkedIn as SPAM.

Perhaps, if enough of us started fighting back in this way, perhaps we can help LinkedIn take stronger action with the Idiots that are destroying the power of the tool that LinkedIn offers.

I’m posting this on my blog for now. In a few days, I’ll publish this on LinkedIn Pulse. I’ll be amused to see the LION activity on that post. There will be a few that actually read the post and may offer differing views and comments. I welcome those–after all that’s the whole point of the discussions.

Those that will be so amusing to watch are those that try to hijack the discussion by posting a “connect with me” comment. The huge irony, is they will simply be reinforcing and illustrating my argument they are no more than SPAMMERs and Idiots. I will leave those comments on the post, rather than deleting them, so all the legitimate readers/commenters can see who these Idiots are and join me in laughing at their mindlessness.

For my friends and colleagues that are LIONs. We have an association in LinkedIn and other places, because I value our relationship and you have not violated the integrity of that relationship. Thank you. But, for your open networking, you may want to reconsider the company you keep.