LinkedIn invitations, “I’m updating my contacts” and “please join my ERE network”

We've all heard about the social networking explosion...heck, blogging is even part of it. If you put your name out there and attach it to any kind of credible content, people will try to link to you. Lately, I've gotten a number of invitations to join LinkedIn, to update my contact info (most of these are via Plaxo) and join a recruiter's network on the Electronic Recruiting Exchange.

I want to put my opinion out here so that nobody takes offense if I don't join their network. My personal opinion is that the value of the network itself lies in the integrity of the connection. By this I mean that a true network consists of people that you know and trust. So by connecting with people that you don't know very well, the integrity of your network (at least within the tool) declines. Then it's nothing more than a list of people (which you could find by using a search engine). So I will not be accepting links from people that I don't have a professional relationship with.

I have to admit that I am often frustrated when I am on the ERE network site (for those of you that aren't recruiters, it's an online portal for members of a large staffing industry organization) and I see someone being congratulated for having 1000 people in their network. That just doesn't make sense to me. I don't know 1000 good you? Can those relationships really be valuable? Is it a popularity contest or are people trying to prove how well networked they are? To me, it sounds like a it's not a good use of time (I'm sorry...I call it like I see it).

So if you have sent me an invitation, please don't be offended if I decline it. It's simply that I have not yet gotten to know you. I'm very open to getting to know you (or else I wouldn't be blogging here). But I am really only comfortable accepting invitations from people that I already know well enough to consider them in my professional network. But I'm very accessible by mail or this blog though. So feel free to contact me any time. Get to know me ; )

Comments (17)

  1. Howard Hoy says:

    I find the LinkedIn invitations really annoying. I keep getting them… I finally signed up and checked it out… It was lame….google is better for finding people.

    Is this you?

    Howard Hoy

  2. Heather says:

    Um, yeah..that picture comes with an explanation. Unfortunately, it didn’t come with an apology from my parents. You wouldn’t believe how many pictures I have like this. I actually remember putting on these big plastic toy ears and insisting I was putting them on right…the are obviously backwards and upside down. This actually explains a lot about my personality.

    I was going to blog on this eventually…you beat me to it ; )

  3. Howard Hoy says:

    When I was blazing through blogsphere, at a reduced rate of 1200 wpm, I came across this picture and could not help myself and post it It fits in with the other pictures of you.

    Back to your blog.

    As a certifiable introvert, I just don’t get linkedin. There are some people that I worked with in the past that I care never to see or hear from again.

    I wouldn’t want their names 1, 2 or any degree close to me.


    1. introvert — ((psychology) a person who tends to shrink from social contacts and to become preoccupied with their own thoughts)

    I wrote an Instant Message Bot so that I could have a conversation with myself. That explains a lot about me.

    DoYouSnap now has a blog as well…

    Keep up the excellent blogging.


  4. Heather says:

    Funny, someone (whose blog I read) sent a Plaxo update not long after I posted this. I think he’s just testing me though. Not… it.

  5. Carlos says:

    Sometimes its more anoying when you never get an invitation to Plaxo or LinkedIn (I don´t even know what it is). How unconnected am I?

    Of course, I live in Chile and so probably my conacts don´t know about it either. And Networking is about where you are born much more than about what you have to give or recieve. Of course this is changing quickly in a very interesting way.

    If the world is global, how many "valuable" contacts do americans have outside the states? I know some who are dedicated to this but you get a that feeling that they are few… hope I´m wrong

  6. Heather says:

    Seriously Carlos, you shouldn’t worry about it. I would guess that only a very small fraction of the people in the databases actually even use them. But if it would make you feel better, I can send you a request to connect just for fun ; )

    Your question about how many valuable contacts Americans would generally have outside the states is a good one. I guess it depends on the reason why they have the contacts/networks in the first place. For me, it’s about finding talented folks who would want to work here (mostly in the Pacific Northwest) and have the skills to work here or have similar people in their network. The closer people are, geographically, I’d say the more likely that they would want to relocate here. Plus there’s the visa issue. So I guess I’d say for me personally, that if someone was a good networking contact and either could and would work here or knows people that could and would, then I would be interested in having them in my network.

    But we do have recruiting teams here in the states that build a talent network overseas (perhaps recruiting for a project in India). They absolutely look to build out that network. I’m not sure what tools they use and how they are different than some of the popular networking tools in the US.

    I guess when I think of the internet I think of it as International. But you are making me realize that it isn’t necessarily.

    I have some family members traveling through South America right now…it sounds amazing. I asked them to bring me back something food related (I love to cook) ; )

  7. Heather,

    That is just how we designed LinkedIn–there is little to be gained by accepting an invitation from someone you don’t know and trust. Some people say "it makes my network larger," but if you have weak connections, then the people you add through a weak connection are unlikely to respond if you ask the weak connection for an introduction.

    We have considered capping connections at an arbitrary number, but felt it would be in the end, ummm, arbitrary. While some people clearly accept invitation from people they don’t know well, it generally works pretty well, and I think the user experience is better for those just connected to peopel they are willing to recommend and who can give them a meaningful recommendation.


  8. Every so often, I start a new personal campaign at work. It’s not intentional and it usually has to do…

  9. Manuel Rincon says:

    I am also an introvert. However, I am having a great experience with LinkedIn. Since 2001, I have been living in developing countries. It is a great experience for a couple of years, but, after that, it is amazing how much value is perceived (and missed) in social networks. Now, LinkedIn is giving me the chance to remember people I worked together with. It is very pleasant to know that I am not alone in this world.

    Manuel Rincon

  10. Thought you might be interested in a great site for personalized invitations, There is also an excellent site just for birth announcements,

    Try them both. You won’t be disappointed.

  11. eR0CK says:

    I’m happy I searched for the post before I invited you!


  12. Greg Ness says:

    Actually, if used wisely, Linkedin can be a good way for experts in emerging fields, i.e. my field of sustainable development, to find the missing pieces to a project puzzle.  Unfortunately, google is not that precise of a tool, and it is simply impossible to pull a team from a discrete region.  I personally would never stray from my field, and I am very discriminate about my connections.  In sum, I think that many people, such as yourself, either have an enlarged ego, a expendable field, lack of imagination, poor social skills, or all of the above.  

  13. Hadera B Tesfai Wilen says:

    Could not find my name in LINKEDIN, I want to renew my membership if I am cancelled

  14. Rachel says:

    My tip for using LinkedIn: don’t. There are only two types of people who think it’s a good idea – recruiters and salespeople. Actually, there are three types. The third group is stock holders at LinkedIn, who think it’s a great idea to provide a means by which those first two demographics can spam the life out of people they barely know, and make a handsome profit in the process.

    Most professional people I know wouldn’t touch LinkedIn with a barge pole, and inwardly cringe when they receive those ‘invitations’ to join from the less ethical salespeople and recruiters to whom they have erroneously exposed their e-mails addresses. (Which ‘invitations’, by the way, there is no way to decline – you’ll be pestered by ‘reminders’ when you ignore them until you’re left pulling your hair out in frustration). Only use this ‘service’ if you really want to alienate yourself from most of your professional community. Otherwise, stick to e-mailing people you actually know about topics they’ve actually agreed to correspond with you on, if you want to be seen as professional and ethical.

  15. HeatherLeigh says:

    Wow. There’s a strong opinion! 🙂

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