Q. I was an early adapter to LinkedIn and have way too many contacts that I don’t even know. I thought it would be great to be connected to anyone I might want to contact and I accepted requests to link from anyone who asked. Now I am getting too many requests from people I don’t know to connect to other people I don’t know. I want LinkedIn to be an effective tool for me and people I really do have connections with. Now what? Do I change my name and start over?
A. Starting over may be a bit extreme, but often when data gets ahead of us, it seems like the only answer. Cleaning up databases is time consuming and it is the only way to make sure a tool like LinkedIn stays as effective as you would like. LinkedIn can be a great tool for job seekers, recruiters, hiring managers and professionals looking for specific expertise. Hitting the 500+ mark for contacts was a sign of popularity in the land of connectedness; but, as you have found, sometimes there is too much of a good thing.
There are many reasons to unlink. You may have accepted invites too or found that is was too easy to send invitations to people you barely knew. One click actions seem to get you so many more contacts! People change jobs and may end up in roles where they now compete with you and you would rather they not know who you know or see any postings or comments you make. Some contacts seem very comfortable asking for information, but don’t understand the reciprocity concept that makes LinkedIn work.
So review your contacts. Stay connected to people you want in your network. When was the last time you were in touch with people with an Email or a call? Would these contacts take your call? Even a LinkedIn network needs care and feeding and perhaps pruning. If there are people you believe no longer should be part of your connections, you can remove them without having them alerted of your action.
No one wants to make it easy to say goodbye, so most networking sites seem to hide their exit strategy. Follow these steps to remove a contact:
1. From your LinkedIn account Homepage, go to "Network" in the navigation bar at the top of the page and select "Contacts."
2. Scroll down until you see "Filter by all contacts."
3. Click that to get to "Connections Only." The number of connections you have may differ from your contacts if you have invitations pending or messages. Your contacts will show with pictures and a check box to the left.
4. Check the box, scroll over the picture and find "More" below the entry.
5. Under "More," you can remove the connection.
6. You will get a last chance questions asking if you are sure. You will be told you will lose the contact information and relationship notes, and at that point you can Remove or reconsider.
Only the member who breaks the connection can re-initiate that connection. They will be added to your list of contacts in case you want to re-invite them to connect.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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