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  • Andy Higgins

Why I don't accept blind LinkedIn invites


If I don't know you, I am VERY UNLIKELY to accept your LinkedIn invitation.

LinkedIn is supposed to be a NETWORKING site. I restrict my use of it to that method. If you need to link with me, get a third-party to provide us a mutual introduction, or at least refer to a mutual contact to whom I can reach out and ask, "Do you know this person?" In other words, network!

Why do I practice this social networking hygiene? Think STDs - Socially Transmitted Disinformation. Paraphrasing the warning to horny teenagers: "When I link with you I'm linking with everyone else who's linked with you in the past."

And the danger in sleeping with so many others is that our social media networks have become weaponized and are now vectors of "disease" transmission. See this TED talk on what we know, and don't know, about the Brexit vote:

https://www.ted.com/talks/carole_cadwalladr_facebook_s_role_in_brexit_and_the_threat_to_democracy?language=en.

Some time last year, in the middle of the Mueller investigation, amidst all the hype about Russian interference in the 2016 election (my take on the net result: there was interference, there was not collusion, but the Trump team acted like the rookies they were and failed to take the proper patriotic or ethical actions in response to the Russians) I got a blind outreach from some GOP operative (not his word) from Tennessee trying to build his network on LinkedIn. Now I'm a life-long conservative - as I write this I'm finishing George Will's The Conservative Sensibility. But the sheer stupidity of this blind Invite raised so many questions:

-- Are you really who you say you are, or are you a Russian troll?

-- Are you really from Tennessee?

-- Are you really from the Republican party?

-- Who do I know that you know? (No one, it turns out)

-- LinkedIn is a PROFESSIONAL networking site. I am in the Consulting business and in the IT profession, not the profession of politics. Why would you reach out to me? I can neither help you get a job, nor link you into Consulting or IT professionals for their benefit, nor link you to other political professionals.

-- If you're not who you say you are, shouldn't I protect my network from you?

-- Even if you are who you say you are, shouldn't I protect my network from you until I'm satisfied we can have a mutually - mutually ! - beneficial relationship?

And so on....

Blind outreach is not networking.

That's not to say it should never be done. I have used it in the past with (a) a self-introduction, (b) a company introduction, (c) a reason for reaching out (I'd like your expertise, I see you might know [someone at... something about...]...), (d) and some other documentation on bona fides which validate me and my reason for outreach (the RFP we're working on, the client we're supporting....).

But lest anyone think that Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was a one-time event, the weaponization of our networks as disease-carrying vectors is part of every investigation into every mass shooting (Christchurch, El Paso, 8Chan,...). The Internet is dangerous. I'm gonna protect my peeps.

So unless you're going to provide at least that minimum of self-identification and public validation, you're just another potential troll out to infect my network, and I'll do what I can to protect them. Please at least introduce yourself and your reason for reaching out, and please tell me how you're part of my network already, and why you'd just like to be a little closer. I promise I'll consider that carefully and give your invitation due diligence.

But honestly, in this day and age of weaponized networks, accepting a blind outreach can be as bad as sleeping with the enemy.


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