Since its inception, LinkedIn has always positioned itself as being a tool for leveraging your connections with people you know – yes, in order to meet new people, but incrementally, not en masse. However, with now ten million professionals who you can invite to connect if you know their e-mail address, it has also become popular among so-called “open networkers” – people willing to link with people they don’t know.
The challenge LinkedIn faces is that it wants to allow people to connect with as many people as they want to connect with, but at the same time protecting people from receiving unwanted invitations from people they don’t know. A significant number of people have left LinkedIn because of “invitation spam”.
Well, LinkedIn may have finally come upon a solution. On the one hand, they no longer require an e-mail address in order to invite someone who’s already a LinkedIn member to connect. On the other hand, they’ve also made it so that recipients can indicate that they don’t know the person sending the invitation. Five such “strikes” and the person’s account gets automatically suspended.
Does this mean the end of open networking on LinkedIn? No – it just means open networkers will have to make sure the recipient is agreeable to receiving the invitation before they send it. A little more work, but it puts the burden where it belongs.