Tuesday, February 02, 2010

job search notes: to be LinkedIn or not?

This started post as a comment on Lewis Howes blog post advising Chris Brogan to stay on LinkedIn. I have expanded on my explanation here and added links.

You should review Lewis' post here and Chris' post here to get the full background story.

Lewis, these are all good reasons for us to stay.
Unfortunately, I don't believe that they apply as well for Chris. I would consider Chris as a major exception, The major reason is the one he has already provided for leaving; he can't provide good reference connections. He doesn't know the people well enough to do so. That problem is self-created. Chris is an open networker and accepts all (or at least almost all) requests to connect. And yes, the value is in a good network.

However, the real value in the network is the relationship amongst 2nd and 3rd degrees and making connections. Chris can't reasonably do so. Why? He spends his time elsewhere.

So the fact that he has as many connections as he does, does not help you or I or anyone else. None of us can leverage Chris' connections to get an introduction to the other party. To the party that may help us to satisfy a business opportunity.

The second reason, is that with Chris' current behavior on LinkedIn, he is actually going counter to the brand he is trying to create as a "trust agent". As a trust agent, he should be able to make good connections amongst those in his network. When he fails to do so (which is often), and he is recognizing this as a problem (which is now and it is about time), then it is time to make a change,

In this case, I would change his profile
- to not accept anymore connections
- to not accept any reference requests
- to not make his connections visible (reduces the opportunity for others to see and utilize)

These changes can all be made in his profile settings.

I would advise Chris to keep his profile but by making these changes, it would reduce the utilization by others (i.e. all of us) and allow Chris to maintain a presence (for Google juice reasons) so that, if at such time in the future, he decides to use LinkedIn (instead of everywhere else he is spending his time) he wont have to start all over.

Note - I would not recommend making these changes for anyone else, just Chris.
Note - I do know Chris having worked with him on all the PodCamp Boston events, including the opportunity to share a long train ride back from PodCamp NewYork. Chris is doing quite well. He doesn't need LinkedIn like we do.
Note: I was one of those who last year did request a connection through Chris to someone else in order to prepare for a job posting. He came back with an apology that he couldn't make the connection as he didn't know the person that well. Since then, I have excluded Chris from my possible links to other connections. By making the setting changes as suggested above, Chris maintains his profile, keeps it very positive, returns to "trust agent" behavior (well almost), and, at least, avoids creating more issues where he has to turn down connection/reference requests.

What do you think?


  1. Steve -
    Great post! Chris doesn't have much company in recognizing this as a potential issue, however. I was on a webinar call the other day with Mike Lewis (Awareness Inc) and David Alston (Radian6) and they held an experiment wherein they urged everyone on the call to connect with them and amongst ourselves on LinkedIn. In a note to me afterward, David told me that he had received around 100 new connections based, as he said, on "shared passions."

    I voiced my disagreement in a blog post http://btrandolph.com/2010/01/linkedin-connections-where-draw-line/ (I've been on kind of a LinkedIn kick lately). In it I echo your sentiment - that the service's greatest value is in the 2nd and (sometimes)3rd degree connections linking me to opportunities sourced via LinkedIn and elsewhere. LIONs and other open networkers dilute the network's usefulness - they should take a page from the Brogan playbook!

    I look forward to seeing the tri-cornered hat at an event soon.

  2. Thanks, we are on the same page on this one.

    The tri-corner will be in Boston Thursday for Social Media Breakfast/LaunchCamp and then at Westfield St on Saturday for PodCamp WesternMASS 2.

    Beyond that, I'm sure they'll be other events :-)