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The Increasing Tinder (For Vendors) Vibe of LinkedIn...

When I accept your LinkedIn invite, I'm not swiping right.  I'm just doing something slightly less than giving you a business card.

I use LinkedIn a lot.  I don't put myself out there as a Lion, an open networker, etc, mainly because I'm not even sure what those Linkedin things mean.  But I do know that LinkedIn is traditionally a great tool to network and make sure you know who people are, read things they share, etc.

LinkedIn has always had a bit of a meat market feel to it.  I think that's to be expected based on the amount of career games/recruiting that goes on across the tool/solution.  You're connecting with people for a reason - mainly because you think there's a reciprocal benefit to that connection - they can help you at a later point or vice versa.

But I'm starting to notice a HUGE uptick in outright "I'm here to sell you my service/solution" behavior from vendors.  As with recruiting, the vendor element has always been around LinkedIn - but I'm not sure it's ever been as quick to the pitch as it is now.

Can you at least say hi and thank me for connecting before you drop your pants?

The increasingly aggressive pitch goes like this:

  1. You get an invite from someone who's a founder or biz dev professional at a company that sells something in your space.
  2. You accept the invite, because you're an open networker and hey, vendors are people too.
  3. 10 minutes after you accept that invite, you receive a note back from the new vendor contact with a not only an deeper explanation of who they are, but a call to action and a request for a meeting.
  4. You wonder why the hell you accepted that invite.

I'm OK with being connected to vendors, but wow - the percentage of vendors that do what I describe above used to be 10%, now it's 60-70%.  It makes it hard for me to accept these types of invites from vendors if I think the outlined behavior is what comes next. 

LinkedIn has always paid light lip service to telling you that you should only accept invites from people you know.  But let's be real, their network effect is only in play if you accept as many connections as possible.

The Trojan Horse of Corporate America was LinkedIn selling itself to companies and HR pros watching the flock as "professional networking".  Turns out, it was a resume database.  Gotcha!

Now, the Trojan Horse of white collar America is LinkedIn telling you as an individual that it is "professional networking".  Turns out, it's lead generation for bad business development people.  Or maybe good ones- depends on where you sit.

LinkedIn could stop the madness I describe above in a very simple way.  If you invite me and I accept, but you try to sell me your service in the first __ months of our connection (you tell me what's reasonable), the connection gets voided or you lose the ability to invite people to connect for __ months (again, you tell me what's reasonable).

But that will never happen because LinkedIn isn't professional networking.  I was cool with that when it was recruiting.  I'm less cool with it now that it has bit me in the ass and everyone wants to sell me something within 10 minutes of accepting their invitation to connect.

When I accept your LinkedIn invite, I'm not swiping right.  This is how people start deciding to stop using the tool on a daily basis.

Comments

Matt Landrum

My LinkedIn pet peeve is that they make it such a pain in the --- to refuse an invitation. In theory, according to my settings, only people that know me should be able to send me a LinkedIn invitation, but 9-10 invites are from people I don't know. And, 8 out of those 9 are not even connected to other people I know.

At least let me click a button and turn them away, ideally with a customizeable message like "I'm sorry, I don't remember working with you in the past". That should be an option EVERY place there is an option to accept the invitation. I understand why they make it hard, but it's transparent that they are purposely making it a pain for me to their (perceived) benefit.

I've seen people go as far as putting a note in their LinkedIn profile about who they will/will not accept invites from. As tempting as that is, it has a bit of a "stay off my lawn" vibe in my view.

Lastly, death to lazy marketing people.

OK, old man rant over.

--Matt

Jared

This is exactly how I feel!

Branigan

Sometimes I get the sense that LinkedIn is largely useless. Yes, you can verify a person's employment history (or their purported history), but I can't think of many people I know personally who've had a significant career boost because of their LinkedIn profile. But I'm a lawyer, not an HR manager. Still, it's one of those unnecessary things that you absolutely don't want to be without. Sort of like bottled water.

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