I read CogDog's about how difficult it is to add contacts in LinkedIn, I scratched my head and then realized he was a mac user (not that there is anything wrong with that and I plan to switch soon myself). But I add contacts via a toolbar integrated with Outlook. I can easily check out the person's profile on LinkedIn and send off an invitation. I'm doing that with people I want to keep in touch with and who I've connected with through my blog or other work. Or maybe I'm just a contact W**** (rhymes with more).
Today, I was LinkedIn to someone who I greatly admire. When I tried to look at their contacts, I couldn't. Hmm ... what's going on here. So, I checked the privacy settings and indeed, you can prevent people from browsing through your contacts if they are connected to you. (I don't think they can email your contacts unless they are connected too).
I had a very conflicted reaction. The first thing I did was lock up my contacts. I thought if this person, who I very much respect and way the heck smarter than me, does it - then there must be some danger or something that I'm missing. I convinced myself that I'm opening myself up to something horrible. Then, went back to the privacy settings and changed back to open. There, that felt better.
So, the next logical step was to put a question out on LinkedIn answers as follows:
Do you allow your connections to view your connection list? Yes or No? Why?
Personally, I get much less value out of my connections who do not reveal their connections. The point of knowledge networks in a tool like LinkedIn is to be able to see who-knows-who and who-knows-what so you can get access to people and knowledge.
I have not yet seen a lot of abuse; maybe if most of my connections consisted of heads of state I would want to protect their privacy by not showing who they are. Then again, they would not be on linkedin in the first place; I suspect that there is a limit to the status and visibility of users who would join such a public forum
I've also found it useful to see who a person might know that I know. It is a sort of metric of value and helps figure out what they may know. Gotta go back think about care and feeding of the network, started this last September.
Here's a response from someone who doesn't show their list:
There are several reason that I don’t show the list, not the least of which is that I think a massive list running down the side of your profile looks ridiculous – takes away from the overall look of your profile which I think should be the central focus of your LinkedIn page. I think your profile should be clean, informative and professional. I think the list takes away from that mission.
Secondly, because I think so highly of LinkedIn, I forward most requests to connect to people on my list. There are, however, several people on my list who are truly private individuals – some fairly high-profile - and I would only forward a recommendation if I saw a bullet-proof dovetail with my connection.
Lastly, and this is just a matter of personal preference, by not showing my list I reject the game – and we all know what game I’m talking about - of “my list is bigger than your list” - the status of having the 26th most connections versus the 34th. I think LinkedIn is an extraordinary and fantastic resource and I have a good number of connections but I don’t show the list and I don’t put my connections number in my “name” field.
I agree that point that with networks size does not matter.
So, is your personal knowledge network like open source software or is it under lock and key? Is this another example of hold your breath, set it free, and hope that something comes good comes back? Do you think size matters when it comes networks? Do you your profile is most or who you know?