LinkedIn Connections Are Like Hockey Cards

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A couple of months ago, I was introduced to “LinkedIn”:http://www.linkedin.com and I must agree with “Mitch Joel”:http://www.twistimage.com/blog/archives/000547.html that this is a very useful online tool.
Just last night I had dinner with an “old university buddy”:http://ac.micro.org/wp I lost touch with 13 years ago. We reconnected courtesy of LinkedIn. (No, I am not on their payroll nor have I been offered any compensation from them.)
However, a colleague of mine had a complaint. She asked me not to include her name so let’s call her ‘Gertrude’. Gertrude recently connected with someone but while her new connection could see her contact list, she was blocked from seeing theirs. Gertrude thought this was rather selfish.


In turn, she tried to block the other person but apparently users cannot decide which connections can have visibility to your contact list and which cannot. It’s all or nothing baby! Just like when you bet your last buck at the craps table in Vegas. (Not that I’ve ever been in that situation or anything.)
The power of LinkedIn or any online social networking system is that it is only as strong as the sharing and mutual benefit that occurs within them. It could be argued that ‘selfish’ behavior undermines the purpose of LinkedIn, the concept of open-source applications, or great events such as “Barcamp”:http://barcamp.org/ and “Casecamp”:http://www.casecamp.org.
Admittedly, one can get buried with unwanted sales, headhunter or job inquiries in these kinds of networks. But if you don’t want those capable of committing the aforementioned transgressions to have visibility to your contact list, why not decline their invite to connect in the first place?
The analogy that LinkedIn is an online hockey card collection (Need him. Got her. Put him in the bicycle spoke) as a “t-shirt slogan creator”:http://theclientside.blogspot.com remarked to me is spot on. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t see your card collection. But others like Gertrude may view it as a matter of principle. And you never know when you might need them to introduce you to the kid who has that coveted Wayne Gretzky rookie card you’ve always wanted.

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One thought on “LinkedIn Connections Are Like Hockey Cards

  1. Diane

    LinkedIn is a business tool and for that reason, there are valid reasons why one would choose to not display their contacts.
    Say you’re looking for a new job and via LinkedIn, have connected with the hiring managers at several different companies. It’s likely that you don’t want your other contacts (e.g. your boss, coworkers) to know that and perhaps, not even each of the hiring managers to know that you are “looking around”. Re-apply this scenario to VCs, etc.

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