Should You Open Network in LinkedIn?

Ever since I’ve been working with LinkedIn, there’s been an unending debate going on.

And since I go back almost to the beginning of LinkedIn, that’s a long time for a debate to be going on.

The great debate is over the question as to whether one should be a LinkedIn Open Networker (LION) accepting invitations to connect from all and sundry or should one be more circumspect with one’s connections only accepting those from people whom we really know.

People go back and forth over what to do and then what’s LinkedIn’s perspective on this?  (One guess, they don’t like it!)

What’s the definition of a LION?

To keep things simple and moving along quickly, I’ll give you mine which I compiled after reading many web pages and speaking to more than a few users of LinkedIn.

A LION is someone who values many connections in LinkedIn for the purpose of having a large network.

Contrary to popular belief, LIONs don’t accept every connection they receive.

They look for completeness and accuracy of the requester’s profile (including a picture), a complete and reasonable request to connect, are there any common connections, and the size of the requester’s network.

If it all looks good they accept and fire off a welcome message.

The opposing point of view is that connections should only be with people who are known, trusted, and have either a preexisting relationship or have friends in common.  Some will go even further and if the requester is not viewed as being relevant or useful for networking purposes they are turned away.  Essentially. LinkedIn is used as an online contacts manager with detailed bios.  (I’ll bet you can tell what my position is here!)

But, what are the advantages and disadvantages of each position?

The advantages of being an open networker are several.

First, one’s network can expand quickly opening up new possibilities for connections.

Next, more people are available to either share your content with or to receive theirs.

Finally, being an open networker permits new opportunities for small and mid-sized businesses to make a larger, qualified audience aware of them and their products and services.

The disadvantages of being an open networker are the additional work to manage all the connections and trying to stay current with most if not all of them.  (I think we’ve all looked at our LinkedIn connections at one time or another and have wondered where did we ever meet some of these people.)

The advantages of being a closed networker (Admit it, that doesn’t even sound good!) could be several.

First, all connections are know variables with probably a higher degree of familiarity involved.

Next, fewer connections means it’s easier to manage and stay current with everyone.

However, the disadvantages to my mind are considerable.

First, a limited number of connections doesn’t really permit the benefits of a social media platform like LinkedIn to be utilized to their maximum.

Next, I find these constraints to be rather incestuous.  If I only have people in LinkedIn as connections whom I already know well then why bother with the overhead?

Finally, there are the missed opportunities of not being able to exploit a larger network when a need arises.

Oh and BTW, LinkedIn likes to point out that they do not endorse the definition.  (The cynic in me says that they probably wish that they had thought of it first.)

So, what should you do?

What do I do?

I recommend being an open networker.

However, I don’t recommend putting the acronym “LION” next to your name as if it’s a professional title as I’ve seen a few do lately.  Let the size of your network speak for itself.

Yes, use common sense when accepting a connection.  If you don’t what that is then maybe you’re not ready for social media yet!

If you’ve developed a social media program as I’ve laid out and are developing a community then people will seek you out and wish to connect with you.  

It means that your social media program is succeeding!

Are you now going to turn people away because you don’t know them?

After they’ve gone to the trouble of reading your content and seeking you out?

See what I mean?

Think about what I’ve said and please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn!

That’s it for now!

In the meantime, thank you for following and reading my blog!

I look forward to any and all comments that you may have.  I will reply to any comments made to this blog post as promptly as I can.


I do this for a living and if I can be of any assistance to either you or your organization, please feel free to call on me.  Our initial discussion will be of no charge to you.

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Stay well!

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