James Mayes

Guest post: Is the LinkedIn LION King of the Jungle?

In Guest post, LinkedIn, Recruitment, Social Recruiting on November 9, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Pleased to offer you a guest post from my long-time Twitter buddy, Ed Scrivener – more about him after the post.

Firstly, what is a LinkedIn LION? Whilst you may feel I have lost my marbles and am describing a rather large feline roaming a social network, a LION is in fact a “LinkedIn Open Networker.”  Essentially, LIONs will connect with anyone on LinkedIn.  The purpose of doing so is to create a large network for reasons such as generating business or for recruitment purposes.

Until relatively recently there was no limit on how many connections you could have.  I appreciate that there are some outstanding networkers and some very popular people out in the world, however, there are members of LinkedIn who hold over 40,000 connections!  I don’t know the, but I think it would be safe to assume that they haven’t met or spoken with all 40,000.  LinkedIn has done its part in trying to curtail such networking by placing a limit on the number of connections a person can have.  The current limit is now set at a paltry 30,000!

It is very easy to get caught up in the technology of social networking and think it is a complicated animal that only IT whizz kids or the young understand.  In fact it is incredibly straight forward.  It is no different to networking at a breakfast meeting or at a seminar.  The only difference is that you make the initial contact virtually.  Once you’ve understood to treat social networking in the same manner, you then need to apply the same rules.  The single most important aspect of any network is that it can be trusted.  For example, if you are asked to recommend a Trainer, for you credibility it is important to recommend someone you know will do a good job and have personal experience with.  This recommendation will strengthen the relationship with both the Trainer and the person asking for the recommendation, thus making your network even stronger.  What you are not going to do if asked to recommend a Trainer, is flick through the Yellow Pages and give a random telephone number.  However, this is essentially what LIONs will do!

The other side of the coin is how helpful will the LION be to you.  The purpose of networking is that it is a two way process, but is a LION going to put the same effort into helping you as you do them?  The simple answer is no.  This is not a slight on their attitude, but more a reflection on the number of hours in a day.  When using LinkedIn you have an update of your connections’ activity on your home page.  This is a benefit of LinkedIn as it is very easy for your contacts to see you status.  So you could have written “looking for my next job” or “just completed an executive coaching programme”, all of which will generate interest from your contacts.  The problem with a LION is that they will have so many contact updates that yours will get lost in the quagmire and it will only be a case of luck if yours is read and acted upon.

There are many LIONs who treat connections as a bit of a race with other LIONs, namely who can get the most kills, sorry connections!  It is a rather strange competition as LinkedIn doesn’t offer prizes.

Clearly there will be some who are the exception to the rule, but in general most will not provide the networking benefit of someone who is building a trusted network.  My advice is to choose your connections carefully.  Only connect with those that you know or those that you feel it would be worthwhile to know.

Is the LinkedIn LION King of the jungle? Definitely not.

About the author:

I have been involved in HR recruitment for over 8 years and during this time I have worked for large FTSE listed and boutique agencies. In 2009, in the midst of a global recession, I took the brave or stupid move (delete as appropriate) to start my own business. Scrivener Recruitment. specialises in HR & HR Sales recruitment and LinkedIn training.

  1. Hi Ed,

    As someone who is an open networker on LinkedIn, I would like to offer some commentary on what being an open networker means to me.

    First, I became an open networker as my way of simply meeting more people (not unlike why I am an avid Twitter networker.) Second, as an open networker, there are certain “rules” that one must adhere to prior to accepting the terms of being a LION.

    They are:
    1) You cannot DKN or “Do not know” someone when they send you an invitation to connect.
    2) You will receive lots and lots of spam (a.k.a. solicitations) and since you know this fact upfront, you may not report these people to LinkedIn for being pesky.
    3) You will pay respect to everyone who wants to connect with you by appreciating their invitation.

    I, as a LION, adhere to these aforementioned rules. This said, here is what I will not do:

    1) Join every group which is sent to me via invitation. The groups I join are selected very strategically and must be ones where I have a direct affiliation or where I feel I can contribute to the conversation by bringing value.
    2) Provide references to people I do not know. I find it shocking (you may not) that I receive at least a half dozen requests to provide LinkedIn recommendations to people I do not know. As a hiring manager and HR professional, I find this practice deplorable and will not comply.

    In addition to the standing rules upon which every open networker must adhere to, I will do these things:
    1) If contacted by a job seeker who is looking to network with someone in my connections, I will make the effort to reach out to that connection to gain permission to make an introduction.
    2) If contacted by a job seeker who mistakenly believes I am a recruiter and wants to send me his/her resume, I will explain in an inmail back to that person, that I am not a recruiter, but know many and will be happy to forward on the resume to those recruiters for their follow up.
    3) If contacted by a job seeker, I will refer them to various job seeker support groups on LinkedIn (especially the one where I volunteer, HireFriday) for them to get support, assistance, job leads and increase their networking opportunities.

    In response to your statement of “how helpful will a LION be to you” I will not attempt to speak for everyone in this group, but I can assure you of this, I cannot be helpful to everyone in this group, at every given moment in time, and just by virtue of the fact that I either lack the knowledge, connections or experience that they need at a particular point in time. I can and do vet out their request and if I can be of assistance, I certainly will do my best to help.

    I’ll finish up my comment with this. I read a book a few years ago called “The Little Red Book of Sales Answers.” I am going to paraphrase a passage from the book that has stuck with me. It goes something like this: Everybody is somebody’s somebody. In essence, you never know who you will meet and when you may be of service to them or may need their help, and further, who they (or you) may know that is somehow tangentially connected.

  2. Hi Cyndy,

    I think you make some very good points and it is certainly clear you follow some decent guidelines (which would be beneficial for all LIONs to follow!). I understand the point of being an open networker, but I firmly believe networking needs to be an equal two way process and I don’t enter into something if I can’t help them as much as they can help me. It is very true that you never know what the future may hold, but there are some that you know will simply never materialise into anything tangible.


  3. […] responded to an invite for a guest post with a cracker on LinkedIn LIONS, which you’ll find here.  He’s kindly offered me the opportunity to […]

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