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Anne Day Headshot

Is LinkedIn the New Myspace?

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In a recent issue of Backbone, it was reported that five million Canadians are on LinkedIn. In fact we make up 3.3 percent of the total global membership. Toronto has the most members in Canada with more than 1.2 million users.

And there are days when it seems like all 1.2 million want to connect with me. I exaggerate, but there does appear to be an increase in the number of requests I receive to connect.

Now, as someone who runs a network for business women, and who has been on this planet for just a few years, I admit I am well-connected in a diverse number of sectors, but people seem to be coming out of the woodwork, claiming we are friends, colleagues, or members of the same group. Who knew?

Yup, everyone and his mother wants to connect with me. This creates a dilemma as I prefer to be selective as to who I have as connections, and half these people I don't know, have never met, and our paths are never likely to cross.

So what do I do? Apparently I am not the only one swamped with overtures to connect, or be friends, and I often hear the issue discussed at length by others who are tired of being inundated by requests from people they don't know.

As the polite individuals that we are, we don't want to seem rude, although LinkedIn does give you the option of "ignore" or "don't know this person." I suspect if an individual gets too many of the latter, or worse still, reported for spam, her days on LinkedIn may be numbered.

But none of us want to fill our network with strangers, or people playing a numbers game who are prowling for contacts. LinkedIn itself recommends that we don't accept invites from strangers.

And actually knowing me isn't necessarily a prerequisite to being included in my network. I may not have liked my dealings with the person in the past, so therefore am not that keen to renew acquaintances.

When someone I don't know uses the template and doesn't add any personal note that might peak my interest, then it is "ignore" or delete; whichever is quicker. But if someone reminds me of how we met, or references someone we both know, I'm more inclined to take the risk and accept.

Now, if I have the time, I will look up the profiles, and if they are connected to someone I know, and trust or have some relevance to my work, then I will accept them. But I don't often take that time and I tend to go through the list once a week, only accepting those that I know straight away.

In the past, it has been embarrassing to be asked to introduce someone who is listed on my network, but who I don't really know. It's even more embarrassing when I'm asked for a recommendation. I only give them for people who have actually done for me, and who have done it well.

As someone who runs a membership-based organization, this has been a tricky issue, but I find having this policy has worked well. While I like to think that my members offer quality work and service, unless I have sampled it for myself, I don't know that for sure. I prefer to protect my reputation.

Bottom line, I don't want or need to populate my network with people I don't know, and I think we need to be discerning as to who we include as it reflects on us.

Watch, I will now get flooded by requests from people who have read this, and know how to get their foot in my door... As if.