Stinking Thinking on Stinking Linking

OK, so I’m hoping that the headline grabbed your attention.

Thom Singer, from Austin, Texas and author of the blog Some Assembly Required had a rant going today about Linked In and the attitudes of folks who think they deserve to link to you just because … well, just because they want to.

Personally, I only link to people I know OR to people who are one person removed from me whom I’ve been advised that I should get to know.  That advice always comes from a person that I already know from a F2F encounter.  (F2F = Face to Face)

Some would think that you should link to everyone and anyone.  I say not so.  Here’s why.  I truly believe that people do business with people that they know, like, and trust.  And trust is the most important ingredient in that statement.

Here’s why you should not link to just everyone nor to anyone who asks.  Your name is on the line.  The assumption that people who are 1 degree either separated from you or 1 degree close to you (depending on how you look at things) are people that you would recommend to someone else.  These are usually people that you know, like, and trust.  Not always.  But most of the time.

People who are in your immediate sphere know you.  For the most part they like you.  And many of them trust you.

People who are 1 step away from your immediate sphere probably know “of you.”  They may have heard about you from a friend or acquaintance but they don’t truly know you.  They don’t know whether they like you – but if their friend likes you, they’ll be more inclined to like you.  They also don’t know if they can trust you – but once again, if their friend trusts you, they are much more likely to trust you than if they didn’t have the friend to connect the dots for them in this puzzle called life.

And, right there is the reason that I don’t let people that I don’t know into my circle by linking to me in a social networking situation.  I don’t know them well enough for them to be using my name to gain access to the people that do rely on me to give good contacts.

My word, my trustability is everything to me.  If “You are your Brand” is true, then my brand is that people can rely on me to tell them the truth about whether someone else is worth knowing, liking, and trusting.

I will not take a chance on destroying my credibility to make some stranger who has asked to link to me happy.

OK, so what is the “stinking thinking on linking” all about?

Here it is.  Most people who want to link to someone else without creating the relationship first to deserve the link are engaged in lazy, stinking thinking.  They think that they deserve what they want just because they want it.  And when they don’t get it, well aside from the fact that they’ll probably never “get it”, they often attack the person who is withholding what they want by saying that the person is not a team player, or not a good networker.  And the stinking thinking is that a good networker would never pass on an unknown entity into his or her network because a good networker knows the value of the network and the value of his or her word.

People who want to link to other people without a true connection are just looking for shortcuts … and the people who grant them their wishes are actually providing easy access and ultimately short circuiting the work they’ve done to establish valued connections and endangering the trust that they’ve taken months and years to build.

Your network is one of your largest assets.  Treat it that way.  You would not give the keys to your house to some stranger that emailed you and asked if he could come and stay for 2 weeks.  Don’t give away the keys to your network so easily either.

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