This post is courtesy of Richard Warner, ASA, AVA. Rick is a business appraiser and the editor of the American Society of Appraiser's Business Valuation E-Letter (to which I contribute 3 - 5 columns a year).
As editor, Rick also contributes content. I thought his June 29, 2011 piece was both interesting and educational and I repost it here with his permission.
The "Dark Side" of LinkedIn
So I’m a pretty frequent user of LinkedIn. More than a “casual” user, but not so much of a user that I’ve felt compelled to “upgrade” my membership. I’ve added a fair number of contacts (more on that later) and I’ve joined a few of the discussion groups.
If you’ve ever followed some of the threads on the discussion groups they run the gamut from being focused and on point to taking a discussion of the cost of capital and turning it into a discussion of Mom’s apple pie at Thanksgiving.
Recently on one of the valuation related discussion groups there was a nice little discussion going on regarding some legitimate topic. People are contributing solid comments, opinions, tidbits, and the like. From somewhere out on “la rive gauche” comes, let’s call it a dissenting opinion, that pretty much says, “you’re all idiots, and I don’t think that much of your mother either…”.
Well, that was pretty interesting. I’m not sure who polices these groups if anyone, but the response from the other contributors to the group was pretty good. Enlightened even. Who knows if the alleged “fire bomber” was even a legitimate person – there’s really no way to know, but the point is the group self-policed itself and kept on truckin’. I liked that.
I’ve seen other comments from individuals (that I know are real) who may have stepped over the line of decorum in some fashion. Other members stepped in, gave some advice (which I can tell has been taken to heart by the alleged offender) and again, life as we know it on LinkedIn continued.
So why should we care about what is said on a LinkedIn discussion group? Well, we should keep in mind these are public groups, and our comments are recorded in some fashion, and maybe we want to consider what our comments would look like if replayed to us in open court. Ouch. I suspect that there are some clever attorneys out there who now include a review of LinkedIn discussion groups as part of their due diligence prepping for a cross examination of an expert witness.
I can see it now. “Mr. Warner, did you really ask/answer this question on LinkedIn as follows….?”
What about how we manage our LinkedIn contacts? When I first started using LinkedIn it was all about quantity. Can I get to 100 contacts? How about 250? Can I reach the hallowed land of 500+ contacts? But should these “contacts” be more than an electronic rolodex stored in the cloud somewhere? I think so. Just as a relationship is more than keeping a person’s business card on file, I think (and this is strictly a personal opinion) that contacts on LinkedIn should be more than just the result of “accepting an invitation” to Link In. I should be able to send a message to each of my contacts, with a legitimate question, and in a reasonable amount of time expect an answer. In other words, my LinkedIn contacts should be part of an “active” network, or they should not be part of it at all.
Well, enough said on LinkedIn. By the way, I don’t “tweet” and all my friends on Facebook are family.