LinkedIn: Wider or Deeper?

This is a question I have posed to our LinkedIn group.

As previously recorded in this blog, I have always connected only with people I’ve actually met. If I received a connection request from somebody I hadn’t met, I would invite them to meet up. This tactic always worked extremely well and resulted in a number of new instructions. However, perhaps it’s time to revaluate because more recently, I’ve noticed a significant drop-off in its effectiveness.

A cup of tea.

Fancy a cuppa?

Some of those sending a connection request don’t bother to respond at all. Of those that do, about half say that they were only looking to expand their networks (and so, the implication is, they can’t be bothered to meet face to face – what’s that about? And of the last 5 that have arranged to meet, 3 have not shown up. One I never heard from again, one said there was some diary confusion at their end and this morning I wasted 75 minutes on somebody who told me that I hadn’t confirmed the meeting. This despite a chain of emails in which we’d narrowed the options to one date, time and location.

What is this, a transatlantic flight? Do I have to re-confirm meetings?

So I’m wondering how you use LinkedIn. Do you use it to strengthen ties with people you know? Do you use it to connect with people you don’t? And if the latter, does it bother you whether you have actually met and had a meaningful conversation with that person or not?

Am I the last person to treat LinkedIn as online support for real networking as opposed to a business Facebook? Because it’s really starting to feel that way.

Well, I’m not going to change the way I use LinkedIn. Save for the fact that when I receive connection requests in future, instead of inviting the person out to coffee, I’m simply going to ask them to confirm whether we’ve met and if not, why we should. Maybe it’s a consequence of approaching middle age but really, I just don’t have the time or the patience for this charade anymore.

2 thoughts on “LinkedIn: Wider or Deeper?

  1. Hi Matthew. We haven’t physically met, but I guess we had a ‘meeting of the minds’ via email. I’ll make a point of doing the face-to-face thing before Christmas. I won’t stand you up – honest.

    So, what is Linkedin all about really? It’s supposed to be a conduit for people who want to broaden and strengthen their career network, but like you, I’ve had connection requests from people who are a total mystery to me. They didn’t even offer coffee, so at least you’re a step ahead in that respect. I think some people see Linkedin as a sales tool and believe you’ll buy something from them if they can get you to join their network.

    Perhaps the effectiveness of Linkedin is being diluted by people’s misunderstanding of what a powerful tool it could be. It’s certainly not ‘Facebook for grown-ups’ and I have to allow myself the occasional chuckle when I read some of the skills people bestow upon themselves.

    Anyone interested in the thinking behind Linkedin – and also interested in how they can re-think their own career path – might enjoy a book written by one of its founders, Reid Hoffman. “The Start-up of You” blows away the notion of the traditional career path in light of the increasing uncertainty, change and complexity in the modern world.

    As for the people of Darlington – I’m sorry, I can’t help you there…..

  2. Thanks for the recommendation on the Reid Hoffman book – I’ll have a look at that. As for the LinkedIn endorsements, don’t get me started on that… but Lucy Kellaway did a fantastic assassination job on that function in her FT.com podcast, which you can find in iTunes if you search for “Listen to Lucy”…

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