Commentators on the Proudman–Carter-Silk affair have understandably criticised one or other, or both, parties’ behaviour.
But I’m more interested in the role LinkedIn played in this. After all, this only came about because Ms Proudman sent an invitation to connect on LinkedIn to someone she did not know and whose line of legal work was not on her patch. Why? Well, for the same reason many of us – faced with an endless stream of profiles of people LinkedIn thinks we might like to connect to – occasionally say, “What the hell, why not connect to them, they might just possibly be useful in future?” “What’s wrong with that?”, you might ask. I’ll tell you: it sends the wrong signal. I’m not talking about the signal it sends to the invitee, but about the signal it sends to LinkedIn. It tells LinkedIn you know that person, and because you know that person, LinkedIn draws all sorts of inferences and – inter alia – will start to suggest you might like to connect to others because that person knows them (that’s how it works).
So my advice is, don’t connect on LinkedIn to anyone you don’t know. You may think you are expanding your network for your future benefit, but you are degrading it’s value. You will waste a lot of time and get unwelcome attention.
Of course, if you see LinkedIn as just another opportunity to market yourself to as many people as possible, go ahead. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Image by Shield Connectors on Flickr.