LinkedIN quality is dying. I am part of the problem. Solutions in hand.

Recently I’ve been diving into social networks with an interest in automation. Don’t get me wrong, I get a good deal of business from LinkedIN, but I worry about it’s future.

I have to thank Dave Mendoza and Jason Davis as being great examples of leveraging networks. I’ve used LinkedIn from early days, but only recently have I started adding connections en mass.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been adding 1000+ LinkedIN connections per week. Ok, I do have an unfair advantage. Not only do I have Broadlook’s recruiting software tools, but I have all the fun stuff coming out of Broadlook’s skunkworks. Profiler 4 is close. nuff said.

Adding 1000 connections per week does take time and resources. So I find myself building value in my LinkedIN account. I am invested in LinkedIN. One questions is: What do I do with the invites I am getting to all these new social networks? I’m getting so many, it’s getting ugly. Right now, I use LinkedIN and RecruitingBlogs.com. Any more than that and I would be spending my day inviting people and accepting invitations. I prefer to have a life.

There are two concepts to track here.

(1) A social network like LinkedIN was created to leverage a chain of trusted relationships in order to get to a target contact. In reality, open networkers, such as myself have ruined that level of trust. I fully admit it. For me, I only need a person’s name and I can take it from there. So now it’s all about getting numbers. Most members of the recruiting industry don’t care to get connected via social network speeds. Social networks are sloth like to a type-A, impatient recruiter…like me. Therefore, open networking was born. Combine a tool like LinkedIN with Broadlook’s Profiler tool and you can get to the people you are looking for… fast.

(2) Once you start adding every open networker under the sun into your network, there is NO WAY you can give every one of them a vote of confidence. Without confidence, I personally, am not going to put my reputation behind someone I don’t know well. To make matters worse, I am getting connection requests from people I don’t know to people I know very well. Guess what? Again, I am not going to forward most of these requests because they are not appropriate.

Where does this leave us? I say “us” because I am looking for help & feedback from the community

I have a solution. LinkedIN may not like it, but I think that it is inevitable. Here it is.

At the last ERE conference, I was chatting with reps at the LinkedIN booth. I told them about my 2 points. The catch 22; you must make your LinkedIN network bigger in order for it to be better, but bigger ruins it. Then I shared my solution to the problem and they really liked it. Said they would pass it on… not sure if they did…So here it is.

Add a single setting to each LinkedIN connection. I am talking about a single bit of information. Very boolean for those techies out there. Call this setting “inner circle”.

Think about it. In real “social networks” (not cyber ones), you have your close circle of friends and then you have your acquaintances. What are acquaintances but potential friends.

LinkedIN is too Boolean and it is time to grow up. Cyber reality needs to mirror social reality.

Add a setting to differentiate friends from acquaintances.

What would this mean? Open networkers could continue to add those acquaintances, but also have a sub group of their “inner circle”. Best of both worlds.

I understand the purist idea Reid Hoffman had in creating the trusted social network, but reality has set in. I’ll repeat.

Cyber reality needs to mirror social reality. Social reality has been evolving for millions of years. Lessons can be learned from it.

after thoughts

For me, I might have 20-25 people in my inner circle; people I would unconditionally pass on a recommendation for. Why not automate the inner circle connections? That would take care of the speed issue of using social networks. Protection against abusing the automated, inner circle? Limit the inner circle connections. 25 max and then a buck a month for more. If I am getting charged for a connection, I'll be more selective.

Views: 60

Comment by David Manaster on July 9, 2008 at 4:16pm
Hey Donato -

This sounds lot like what Facebook has - the ability to classify contacts of different types (classmates, vs. work people, vs. family, vs. randoms, etc.) I don't really use this feature on Facebook, but I do on Flickr and it is very useful there.
Comment by Susan Kang Nam on July 9, 2008 at 4:23pm
Hello Donato - interesting perspectives on LinkedIn quality as I have been asking myself those same questions. I would like to know more about automating the inner circle connections further.. as my LinkedIn connection is getting larger and yet I do not know how to utilize it further... having to differentiate your inner circle vs. acquaintances may be interesting however as I do agree that Cyber reality "must" mirror social reality. I would be interested to see if LinkedIn will further that idea about having that "sub-group" and continue to argue the pros and cons to this. Look forward to hearing more about this. Thanks for this discussion!~

All the best,

Susan
Comment by Susan Kang Nam on July 9, 2008 at 4:44pm
along with what David said (hello David) - I did start classifying contacts of different colleagues/contacts at Facebook as I joined only a couple of weeks ago.. however I would like LinkedIn as well since I have more contacts there at the moment... and really focus on those inner circle contacts. Having it would help. Flickr I keep things privately at the moment.. so I will need to explore that at some point... All the best!~
Comment by Robert Greene on July 9, 2008 at 6:04pm
I think it's more important to have quality linkedin connections then quality. I'm an Engineering Recruiter- why should I connect with a Sales guy in Brazil? I don't. The folks that "abuse" how Linkedin is supposed to work, in my view doesn't add value to your business or to linkedin as a tool and dilute value .
Comment by Donato Diorio on July 9, 2008 at 6:16pm
Hi Robert..What I am seeking is a solution to the reality that is happening. If you keep your network pure, it still effects you if someone along the chain did not. Yes, a purist view would be for everyone to maintain only strong first connections. That is no longer a reality. I couldn't control how strong my connections connections were, thus my initial 1st level strong network started to break down. Ergo, I went for numbers as an open networker.

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