Twists, turns and bamboozled in LinkedIn

It was bound to happen. It happens to all very cool trends and tools, even in fashion.  Everyone catches on and then starts knocking off the part that works, cheapening the original idea.  Several of my LinkedIn groups have fallen into this pitfall.

When I started with LinkedIn many years ago, it was about helping each other, finding related people, or former colleagues in your industry, and sharing ideas as well as resources.  As more people attend webinars of "How to Turn LinkedIn Into Your Goldmine of Prospects," or some other ballyhoo similar topic the groups have shifted severely.  Up until about a year ago I would freely participate in many seemingly innocent questions posted to the "group" for the "group" to chime in on with their experiences, advice, etc.  In the last year, 90% of these questions were loaded, posted by a lot of "life coaches."  Answering them would result in a pitch sent to you shortly thereafter.  I felt bamboozled. Perhaps I'm naive thinking that professionals can engage in lively conversation without having to get a direct sale from it.

I'm not always a quick study when it comes to recognizing the dark side of networking; mainly because I don't network that way.  I don't want to know your name as you're slapping a card into my hand.  I'd like to know you a bit more before I bother taking one of your cards. But I know when I'm being MLMed, hornswaggled and duped now.  The result, I drop the group and remember your name this time as "one of those" types of networkers that have to be watched, because all that will come of the conversation is another unwanted pitch.

Completely disenchanted with LinkedIn?  It will take more than that.  What can I say, I'm Catholic and am able to separate the Church from the men who mess it up regularly.  I still find LinkedIn a valuable place to meet, stay current with others in my industry and industries I serve on my clients' behalf.  I'm just more particular and wary of the groups I join.

We all know time is precious.  Some measure events they attend and groups they join by the number of contacts they will make at each gathering, online or in person.  I've been in sales for years on an off and think this is a sad way to measure business relationships.  Smarmy, I think so.  If every encounter for you is viewed as an opportunity to pitch or give your 'elevator spiel' I hope our paths don't cross anytime soon.  You wear me out and waste my time with cloaked paths of conversation.