I like to think of myself as one of the early adopters of LinkedIn. I’ve been a Member since February 20, 2004. [If you were an earlier adopter, let me know. I’m always looking for people who remember when you had to connect with people you didn’t know, because there were so few people on LinkedIn, it was hard to find anyone you knew].
One of the great strengths of LinkedIn is that it has morphed repeatedly to new environments; it’s seldom been the best tool you might have imagined for the particular job you want done, but it’s been a pretty good utility tool for a lot of different jobs. I used it early on to meet innovative people, then as more folks joined, I started to use it to reconnect with people. I used it to job search, and I used it to hire employees. I remember all the squawking when profile photos were implemented – some people were sooo against that! But LinkedIn has survived by being adaptive and tolerant of many types of users. For me, it’s not the tool it once was, but it’s still a pretty good tool. For others, it’s not as good, but for many more, it’s just a different tool.
LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers)
We’ve always had users who find value in connecting with everyone they can. I’m not one who perceives that value. When your connections devolve into a list of people you don’t know, it just seems like a phone book to me, and I already have one of those that works better and covers more people – it’s called Google. In any case, LIONs usually announce themselves in their Headlines or even their Names, so you know when you’re getting an invitation from a LION. I usually click ignore.
There are some people who reach out to connect with me using the standard ‘no message’ option which LinkedIn provides. Years ago I noticed that when I reached out to these people, they almost never responded back. I call these people who don’t respond: Zombie Connectors℠.
For several years I have employed a standard practice of replying to those who invite me to connect, but whom I don’t know, with the question: ‘How may I be of assistance?’ It’s really amazing to me but the vast majority do not even respond. I let them sit there for 6 months, when LinkedIn automatically withdraws their request. At any given time I have over 100 Zombie Connectors℠ who have invited me to connect, but haven’t responded to my message back.
I can’t emphasize how poorly this reflects on them as individuals, or how it also reflects poorly on their employers. You don’t want to be a Zombie Connector℠. If you are going to invite someone to connect with you, you need to be responsible enough to be responsive. Whether you are actively job searching, or just passively in the market, there is not only the possibility that someone will remember that you ignored them, there is probably a record of it in their LinkedIn messages.