I like LinkedIn – it’s an excellent tool to build and nurture your professional network.
But there are some things LinkedIn does which are infuriatingly annoying.
One such example is its insistence on a regular basis to make you add each and every person, or other entity, you’ve ever exchanged an email with to your network.
This is of course only an issue if you’ve ever imported any of your email address books into LinkedIn, which is a move I would caution against. This is why…
Once LinkedIn has your address book it wants you to add as many of these contacts to your LinkedIn network as possible, clearly in an attempt to build its user base.
On the face of it, it sounds like a great idea, right?
However, the issue with this is how LinkedIn proceeds to get you to do so.
We’ve all been there. You’re presented with a button next to a row of friendly faces, inviting you to reconnect with “lost” contacts, as LinkedIn offers to scour your address book to find those few stragglers you haven’t connected with yet.
You click through and are met with this message: “We found 62 people you know on LinkedIn when you added your address book. Select the people you’d like to connect to.”
Except all 62 people are already selected, so you’re one click away from inviting all of these contacts to connect on LinkedIn, regardless of your past or current professional relationship with them.
The “professional” part is important, because that is what LinkedIn is meant to be – a network for professionals.
I really do not need to add the travel agents who helped me with some bookings five or three years ago to my professional network. Nor, the owner of a holiday park I can’t even recall visiting. Or the person I bought a second-hand car from who has since relocated to Sweden. And certainly not anyone I dated years ago!
But it is ridiculously easy to unwittingly hit the inviting “Add connections” button and invite people you no longer know or never really did to join your network.
At best you come across as a try hard, trying to pad out your network. At worst, a weirdo stalker no one would want anything to do with – professionally or otherwise.
Neither scenario is going to help you build a professional image!
Granted, some of the suggested contacts might actually be people you’d genuinely like to connect with. But by pre-selecting all the contacts it found, LinkedIn doesn’t make it easy to do so.
The user interface seems geared to making us click the button that will send an invitation to connect to ALL of the selected contacts.
So here’s where you need to pay attention, Bond. There is in fact a checkbox that lets you unselect all the contacts and only pick the ones you want, but this is quite easy to miss at first glance.
But once you’ve invited the selected contact to connect, LinkedIn has another enticing offer in store for you…
“Stay in touch with your contacts we found when you added your address book. Invite them to LinkedIn so they can connect with you.”
Here you’ll see a list of all the contacts LinkedIn couldn’t find a match for in its system. This will be because these are mostly the now defunct email addresses of people who have long since changed jobs or abandoned Hotmail, along with random businesses you’ve emailed at some point.
While the previous step offered some value, as long as you select only the people you actually want to connect with, this one offers no perceivable user benefit.
Jane and Bill will not get your offer to connect on LinkedIn since the invitation will disappear into whatever ghostly void messages sent to dead email addresses end up in.
So what’s the point of this?
This is most likely a data mining exercise on behalf of LinkedIn. Its servers will get the bouncebacks from those obsolete email addresses and this data will be analysed for some commercial purpose.
So just opt out from feeding the machine by hitting “Skip this step”.