The Complete Idiot's Guide

Growing Your Business With Google
By Dave Taylor

LinkedIn + BusinessWeek poll = connection spam?

I'm usually quite a proponent of LinkedIn, as readers of my weblog are aware, but I find it quite fascinating that the desire to have the LinkedIn site ranked highly in an influential BusinessWeek Best Of the Web poll is showing a bit of the seamy underbelly of online networking.

Four times in the past week I've received email from one of my LinkedIn connections asking me to pop over to the BusinessWeek poll and vote for LinkedIn to help it rank well in the results. The intention is splendid and the slightly questionable tactic of trying to either (depending on your viewpoint) encourage voter turnout or stuff the virtual ballot boxes is no different from many of the other nominated sites posting "vote for us" articles too (even Om Malik, one of my touchstones for professionalism in the business blog space, couldn't resist when he added "Vote for GigaOM" to his weblog).

Ordinarily, receiving four messages like this in the never-ending tsunami of email I get every day wouldn't be worthy of note, but I find it quite fascinating that the desire to help market a digital venue overcomes the otherwise good judgment of the people from whom I received these messages.

None of them, however, addressed the question of whether it's fair to ask me to vote if I haven't already figured out that there's a competition and cast my vote (in fact, I already had done so). Perhaps it's not really an ethical issue at all, but I have heard from colleagues at BusinessWeek that they've already seen lots of ballot stuffing and had to deal with sorting legit votes from robots, among other things.

No surprise there.

Indeed, with blog comment spam tools available that can create random IP addresses to sidestep blacklist tools, it seems like it would be easy to build a "voter bot" for the poll and completely invalidate the results.

But that's not what I want to consider here, that's just a simple matter of cobbling some pieces together and subverting things to meet your own curious view of reality.

I'm reading a splendid book right now called The Virtual Handshake and also talking with a publisher about contributing to a book on professional networking in the virtual world, and one question that keeps coming up is How is LinkedIn any different from the dozens of other networking sites out there?

My answer has always been "because it's 100% focused on professional business networking and because all the communications I've received from my connections have been focused and relevant." But now I can't say that. Now I've received spam from trusted digital colleagues, people who I thought were more focused on creating win:win scenarios for us.

Maybe having LinkedIn win the vote in its category at BusinessWeek would produce a win:win situation, but I'm afraid it's not really that much of a step from "make sure you vote for LinkedIn" to "please link to my site so I'll get more clients and can send some your way" to "please sign this initiative to impeach Bush".

But maybe it's the end of a long weekend and I've had other things on my mind, what with the post-Katrina fiasco in Louisiana and the fourth anniversary of 9/11. What do you think, dear reader?

This article about BusinessWeek, LinkedIn and spam is republished with permission from The Intuitive Life Business Blog.

Category: Growing Your Business   (Article #4378)

My message to some professional networkers on LinkedIn:

Grow Up.

You have more connections than pimply kids have friends on MySpace. You don't need any external validation so that people know how cool you are.

LinkedIn needs professional networkers like professional students need a bullet in the head.

Posted by: Chui at November 23, 2006 7:48 PM

I do have a comment, now that you mention it!

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Please note that I will never send you any unsolicited email or communication. Ever. I hate it just as much as you do.

While I'm at it, please note that by submitting a question or comment you're agreeing to my terms of service, which are: you relinquish any subsequent rights of ownership to your material by submitting it on this site.

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Inside The Book
Foreword, by Guy Kawasaki
Introduction to the Book
Increasing Your Business Visibility (chapter 1)
The Benefits of Increasing Your Visibility (Chapter 2)
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Making Money with Google AdSense (Chapter 19)
The Advantages of Affiliate Programs (Chapter 20)
Avoiding Dumb Online Promotional Mistakes (Chapter 21)
Growing and Expanding Your Content (Chapter 22)
The Future of Findability (Chapter 23)

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Bill Gates: The Age of Software-Powered Communications
Google Friends Newsletter - April 2007
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Enabling Secure Anywhere Access in a Connected World
Google Friends Newsletter
Google Launches Hosted Communications Services
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Google doesn't support click fraud. But isn't that obvious?
Welcome to Google's online payment system, Google Checkout
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AdSense: Google's Hidden Payroll
Fun new Google service: Movie info
Google agrees to pay $90 mln in click fraud suit
Latest news from Google: Google Friends Newsletter
Nofollow: Another salvo in the Spam Wars
Google Toolbar Gets Personal
Yahoo Search redesign scheduled?
Note from the Google AdSense Team
What's the future of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising?
New Google AdWords Keyword System Released

Updates for Readers
Blogging for Search Engine Results
Why does advertising site Chitika audit commission payments?
Google Adsense Update: Section Targeting
Understanding "link:" results (book errata)

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