How should I deal with LinkedIn? Everyone who wants to “connect” with me ends up trying to sell me something.
Sometimes it appears that a person has done their homework and has something useful to offer—but more often than not, it’s people who clearly know nothing about me.
I feel like the original purpose of the network has gone out the window and it is mostly a waste of time. I don’t want to be rude, but I want to find a way to stop being inundated with requests to connect.
Sick of Wasting Time
Dear Sick of Wasting Time,
Boy, does this resonate with me. LinkedIn is the last of all the social media platforms I still engage with, and I am considering letting that go, too. Every so often, though, I come across something interesting and relevant and I reconsider. I do like seeing what my professional friends and acquaintances are up to, and I really enjoy engaging with certain groups.
I have definitely noticed an uptick in LinkedIn as a sales tool in the last few years. I am sure it has everything to do with the increased use of email spam filters—and who answers the phone anymore? So how else are sales people—or in many cases, I am pretty sure, sales bots—supposed to get spotted?
I recently had to rebuff a student from my alma mater who attempted to sell me something based on our tenuous connection. I hope I wasn’t too harsh—I hate to discourage young people. Her response was a resounding silence, so I will never know how the message was received.
Maybe a question to ask yourself is What do I want to get out of this platform? Once you know that, you can make decisions about how to proceed. I asked around and got a few ideas for you, all of which I am going to implement myself.
- Only accept connections with people who are either interesting to you, genuinely interested in your work, or doing something that might affect your own business. You can just decline the others without having to explain yourself.
- You might consider sharing your position about who you want to connect with. Write a post about your experience. It will get buried pretty quickly, but you can always link back to it when it makes sense.
- You can easily limit public information using your privacy settings. If you aren’t using LinkedIn to build potential customers, this will serve to reduce how visible you are to people who don’t have anything of value for you.
- Find and join groups that you think will be stimulating and help you in your work. This will narrow the posts you see and hopefully make your experience on the platform feel more useful.
- Did you know you can filter your messages? You can create separate folders for messages from people you have connected with and people you haven’t. That way, you can immediately see messages from people you want to hear from and ignore the others.
- Finally, you can remove some of those connections. If you blithely accepted all connection requests for a long time (as many of us did) and you want to reduce the number of connections to only the ones that are relevant to you, do a little weeding. Under Manage My Network, click on Connections and click on the three dots next to a connection to see the Remove Connection option. It may be a good use of your time—and may also increase the value and pleasure you get from engaging with the platform.
Social media of all kinds, not to mention news sites, are designed to divert attention and keep us engaged. You can’t expect anyone to respect boundaries you haven’t set. Our time and attention are a precious and finite resource. You are entitled to take more control of yours.
Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.
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