Lessons from a LinkedIn lush: Why I regret becoming an open networker

Lessons from a LinkedIn lush: Why I regret becoming an open networker


One of the decisions I made when I joined LinkedIn was to become an “open networker.” I’m on a list that says I am open to connecting. Three years later and I have thousands of first-degree connections.

Now I kind of regret it.

I say “kind of” because there are pluses to being Miss Popular. I’ve expanded my list of contacts by the bucket load — with zero effort. That means I can easily research thousands, if not millions of people in my broader network.

The downside of being so social is that I’m now fair game.

Now when I login to LinkedIn I have hundreds of rubbish emails from people I don’t know.

Many of them have nothing to do with my web site (which I advertise heavily through networking).

People have assumed that since I’m an open networker that I want to hear about their bridge building business in Bulgaria or a great deal on grapes in Penang. If it sounds bizarre, it is. I am simply being spammed.

One of the few things I’ve learned from this avalanche of emails is how to stand out and make an impression.

I’ll look at how people communicate. Then I think about how to improve my own style. I’ll only open an email if it’s clever or targeted, short and snappy, or if the person sending it has said something interesting. And even then, I may not.

But with thousands of connections in my inbox, I can’t manage the masses. When I want to make contact on LinkedIn, it’s a challenge to find people whom I really care about.

I also wonder what other people think.

When head-hunters go hunting they say they look at the richness of your connections. I’m not sure if I look impressive or indiscriminate.

So what have I learned from all of this?

Follow my gut, because my gut never lies.

With my first login to LinkedIn, I hesitated about becoming an open networker, but I ignored all my instincts. At the time I had no reason not to do it. Now what I know from networking online is that the community influences the forum. One person behaves badly and badly becomes the norm.

I’m not a person who works a room and hands out my business card to 2,225 people, even at a professional networking event.

I prefer to chat to two or three people and get to know them. Open networking is that same spray can approach online. I’m not saying that’s wrong. I just don’t think that’s my natural style.

My networking style worked well for me one way offline. I should have approached it that same way online.

Feel free to disagree with me on this. Are you an open networker on LinkedIn? How have you used it to your advantage? Or do you have more regrets than useful contacts?

Karalyn Brown a is former HR and recruitment consultant who now dispenses job search “wisdom” on her blog InterviewIQ (where this article first appeared). A social media marketing fan, she spends much of her time building up her business through tweeting, targeting Google, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Image by Nan Palmero
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  • Jen Bishop (Melb)

    Hi Karalyn, Yes be careful what you wish for. When adding connections I follow these rules:

    1. They need a profile photo and 100% profile completeness (or almost there)
    2. They need to have a proper work history.
    3. If they just send me the canned invite I wont connect
    4. I stay away from open networkers especially the ones announcing their connections and who offer to connect with anyone for no reason at all.
    5. I analyse their contributions to groups and decide whether we can have a reciprocal relationship.

    As someone who has spent a lot of time in US groups I know how strict their spamming rules are within groups. Also a clear advertisement via email of an event/product or service is also considered spam. As they have more than 50 million users, they 50 times the spam. So as LinkedIn grows here the platform will evolve to be more self regulated and groups will develop stricter criteria.

    My suggestion: Disconnect from Open Network Groups. Disconnect from Open Networkers completely especially those with sus profiles to prevent the spam.
    Be careful with your email address as spammers will harvest it and onsell it. Therefore you could potentially find your valuable connections being spammed by you to kingdom come, without you even knowing.

    Or worse your email address may become blacklisted.
    Try to organically prune and disconnect with irrelevant contacts. And concentrate on the high value more important 20%. Alternatively tag your most important contacts via L.I.’s segmentation tool and just delete the rest.
    Good Luck

  • http://doingwords.com alan jones

    I decided a while ago to limit my LinkedIn connections to people I’ve worked with or for. This way I can show prospective clients who I am and who I can call on to get stuff done. It took a while to delete all the connections I had that didn’t fall into this category (and there are some I still haven’t deleted) but it helps.

    Now when I get an unsolicited connection from someone I don’t know I ask them to connect with me on Twitter instead. I’ve had a few good business leads come thru Twitter in the past year and it’s easier to ignore people who just want to spam me than it is on LinkedIn.

    Try it out…

  • Karalyn

    Hi Jen and Alan, you offer some great suggestions. Jen I may well start to prune!

  • Jen Bishop (Melb)

    @Karalyn, thanks for your feedback,
    Cheers Jen

  • Ann

    Great post Karalyn.

    On LinkedIn I tend to be discriminating. If I receive an invite out of the blue I wont accept it not unless there is a very valid reason. Why have I done this? Well that’s what LinkedIn advise you to do when you get a new friend connection so I didnt question it. Thats not to say I havent one or two people I have no contact with whatsoever. But if I got spam from them Id see if I could ‘unfriend’ them.

    However with FB I did the exact same as you. Accepted everyone. Last year with so much spam I decided enough was enough and restricted my profile. I havent accepted a new friend request from FB since early Dec and I like it that way 🙂

    I suppose its quality not quantity. Thats what we need to remember.