Where did business social networking go off track?
LinkedIn is without a doubt one of the better social networking platforms out there and probably the best for cultivating a business oriented social network. But somewhere along the way many have lost the real meaning of what it is to network. I think I was also lost there for a second or two. I remember in the early days of LinkedIn, the innocent days, I would have gladly accepted almost anyone that asked to connect, it was not a bad concept at the time but things have changed fast.
Today we have mega networkers that developed their LinkedIn skills in to an art and some have turned it into an Olympic challenge to gather as many contacts as they can, some even passing the 30k contact limit and opening additional profiles!! Some taking it to such an extreme that they feel the need to post the number of contacts they have at the head of their profile, as this is the first and foremost achievement that they would like to be recognized by!!. For me this is a huge turnoff. What they all have in common is that they don’t really manage their network, do very little if any screening when accepting invitations to connect and they are becoming a breeding ground and a stepping stone for SPAMERs and worst people with Criminal intent to launch their LinkedIn bogus profile.
So how can we change all that? How should we conduct ourselves when faced with an invite to connect from someone we do not know? .. Well 1st if you see no common ground for networking, then just don’t. Take the time to read his/her profile, get to know this potential connection. Check for mutual contacts and ask them to act as a reference. Communicate, ask for the reason for connecting, just NETWORK. Is this not what social networking is all about?
I still believe LinkedIn to be the ultimate social networking tool, and i hear many voice an opinion that LinkedIn management should put a greater efforts to address this growing alarming trend, maybe they should and they probably are ... BUT I think the blame 1st and fore most falls on us all .. How we conduct ourselves, What we would like our network to look like .. and .. What are we willing to do to make it so ..