The Sales Virus That Could Destroy LinkedIn

 This photo thanks to

This photo thanks to

I am grateful to LinkedIn for the way they are changing the business world and for how they provide unprecedented reach and leverage for members. LinkedIn has brought me more clients than I can cope with and in less than a year my LinkedIn followers have gone from 1,600 to more than 10,000 with almost 500,000 reads of my posts. I, along with the vast majority of other members, have adopted a positive and professional approach to networking in respectfully using the platform. But I'm seeing a troubling trend within LinkedIn driven by spammers and sales people adopting annoying 'connect and sell' behaviors.

LinkedIn recently decided to embrace advertising and last week I received my first unsolicited InMail trying to sell me a Porsche... "Fortune favors the brave... who drive the 911 Carrera GTS".

The following day a dodgy LinkedIn member tried to invite me to receive a bucket-load of money from an unbelievable 'business opportunity' but I blocked him and reported the scam behavior to LinkedIn. I also regularly received other solicitations for services relating to lead generation and website optimization. All I need to complete the trifecta is a mail-order bride who will comes with a lifetime supply of Viagra funded by millions of dollars that her royal cousin in Nigeria is seeking to get out of of the country if I can just send a deposit of $20,000 along with my bank account details. Just as I was publishing this post I received this InMail and you can see my response under it.

LinkedIn should be the professional online network and the Facebookifation of LinkedIn is a real threat to the platform and company's future prosperity. What has LinkedIn learned from members being bombarded by recruitment consultants in phase one of the platforms success? How will they seek to moderate hyper-active sellers and marketers that are now emerging on the platform? Despite adjusting my account profile setting (see below) and being clear about the basis on which I am happy to engage, unwanted solicitations still get through. If you have not already done so, you should invest time in understanding and updating your LinkedIn profile settings to do what you can to reduce unwanted bombardment.

Facebook's biggest drawback is narcissistic trolls who bully, badger and blast members but the sales and marketing animals within LinkedIn could be the Achilles' heel of the social giant for business.

How will LinkedIn create a member culture of good mannered, high value networking and block the 'connect and sell' spamming?

Beyond anything that LinkedIn themselves do, it is us the members who can create the greatest value and drive a networked culture of professionalism and value. The rules of networking are the same in the physical world as online. You would never walk up to someone at a business event and say: "Hi, great to meet you – would you like to buy my service?" We know that good manners dictate that we first take an interest in the person to understand them. Trust must be earned as the first transaction in any relationship and it is destroyed by anyone who is disingenuous, pushy or manipulative.

LinkedIn is becoming the next Google for professionals and should be used as intended by the creators. It is a high value professional networking platform to connect people and ideas. Your brand is precious so don't damage it with clumsy selling activity in LinkedIn.

What are your rules for engaging in LinkedIn and what are the most bizarre encounters you have had on the platform?

P.S. This is what I did with Mr Omah Khan so that LinkedIn can eliminate him from the platform.

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