There are some happenings that many LinkedIn members should be aware of. It appears that after years of allowing violations of it’s “user agreement” LinkedIn is starting to take action.
Over the last couple of weeks I have seen cases where members have had their accounts suspended for violations that had been previously overlooked. Just yesterday I spoke with someone who had a client whose account was suspended for including their email after their name. There was no warning just an email from LinkedIn advising them that their account had been suspended and to contact customer service to discuss.
Personally I don’t see where this impacts anyone else or infringes upon their use of the site so I don’t agree with LinkedIn’s action. From a business perspective, though, LinkedIn built the network and has the right to dictate the terms.
LinkedIn is in business to earn profits and one of the ways that they do so is by selling premium accounts which provide members the ability to contact a number of people not in their network directly through the use of InMails. They also sell these for $10 a pop. Providing an email allows some people to avoid using InMails to grow their network.
LinkedIn also states that members should only connect to those they know. Another point where I disagree. When I go to a chamber networking event they don’t tell me to only talk to people I know. I’m there to meet people I don’t know. My perspective is that LinkedIn is simply an electronic version of the chamber, so a large part of the value is connecting to others I don’t know. This allows me to expand my network and develop opportunities that were previously out of reach.
There are several notices in the list of Dont’s in the user agreement that are relevant to today’s discussion:
1. Include information in your profile or in Status Updates which reveals your identity such as an email address, phone number or address or is confidential in nature;
2. Invite people with whom you have no prior relationship to join your network;
3. Upload a cartoon, symbol, drawing or any content other than a photograph of yourself in your profile photo;
If you look at enough profiles you will see profiles that include an email address along with the person’s name. Traditionally this was done by LION’s to facilitate connecting with others. You can argue the merits of open verses closed networking, but for Open networkers this has been a great help to building their networks.
I have only stumbled on the phone number a couple of times and have not seen anyone listing their address. If you currently have your email included in your name field you may want to rethink that choice.
The second point, as noted above, is one I disagree with. When I changed my networking strategy from a Hound Dog to more of a LION (not an official LION but more open in who I connect to) I noticed that the number of my unexpected opportunities increased. (expected and unexpected opportunities are discussed in my post –Ed Jones Had Me at Hello)
I think at some point the majority of people have connected to at least one person they did not know.
The third point I actually agree with LinkedIn. As a business networking site that focuses on people connecting to people anything other than a personal head shot or photo doesn’t make sense. The proper thing to do is to create a companies page if you want to promote your company. If you want to promote a product or service use your profile to include keywords and applications to highlight either.
You’ll notice more people willing to connect and interact if they know who you are. When I see a profile that is a business name or a product all it says to me is this is a person that doesn’t understand social networking. This person isn’t interested in developing relationships but simply participating to sell a product.
I’m up front stating that I am on LinkedIn to grow my business and make money. But I also understand that the first step to doing so is providing value to others with no expectations. Over time this apporach will allow others to get to know you, start to like you, and eventually trust you.
The end result is that what has previously been allowed may now result in your account being suspended. The points above have always been violations of LinkedIn’s “user agreement” only now action is actually being taken.
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