9 Types Of LinkedIn Connections You Need To Remove, Block Or Report

By William Arruda, Contributor
Photo credit LightRocket via Getty Images

When you establish a new connection with someone on LinkedIn, you have an opportunity to form the foundation for a fruitful relationship. Sadly, some members’ motives for connecting are less than sincere or, worse, they’re 100% self-centered.

Many of my clients are expressing frustration with LinkedIn because it seems there are more and more LinkedIn members who are less focused on authentic networking and more driven by sales. The genuine “I’d love to get to know you for our mutual connection and benefit” has been replaced by “I want something from you.” To those of us who are genuine networkers, that feels slimy.

Often, the initial connection request you receive is pleasant or innocuous. Then, after you accept the request, you get your first message from this new connection. That’s when you can identify the people you need to remove, block or report. Here’s the full gamut of the most annoying or even pernicious connections to eliminate from your LinkedIn community.

1. The Trojan Horse

“I want to help you [sort of].” “Here’s a link to my e-book, which I am giving you free of charge.” “I want to invite you to a special webinar I am delivering to just a select group of people.” “I have three spaces left in my upcoming training program and I want to offer one to you.” The free gift is typically on topic that is at least marginally interesting to you, but rather than an offer of generosity, it’s really a ruse to get you into their sales funnel so they can send you endless marketing messages until you buy something from them.

2. The Braggart

“You’re lucky to know me.” That’s the theme of these messages. Of course, boasting doesn’t build relationships. If the first message you receive from a new connection is filled with chest-pounding statements about how brilliant, accomplished or popular they are, steer clear. The braggart persona also includes subtle brags like “I am happy to be connected to you and make my 10,000 LinkedIn connections available to you.”

3. The Whoever

Their messages are completely generic, always accompanied by an invisible postscript that says “I don’t really care who you are, I just want something from you.” When you receive these messages, you should immediately realize that you’re just a prospect. The wording goes something like this: “Hello. I am reaching out to see if you would be interested in exploring new opportunities. My client has retained us to fill various senior-level positions in one of their recent acquisitions. I was referred to you by an outside talent sourcing firm; based on your previous experience, you are a very credible candidate for one of the open positions.” Could that be any less specific?

4. The Machine

Infinitely worse than a person sending a generic message is the bot masquerading as a real person. Using bots to automate a relationship is a giant oxymoron. But at least a bot is easy to spot: “Hi William, I love what you’re doing at Motivational Speaker and Virtual Keynote Speaker, Bestselling Author, Personal Branding Pioneer, CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) at Reach. Cofounder of CareerBlast.TV, Helping professionals succeed by being themselves.” (That’s my LinkedIn headline.) Bots often use your headline or the job title of your most recent Experience entry as a way of seeming like the person who sent this message has spent some time learning about you. To identify these people immediately, write a unique headline and title for your current role.

5. The Gambler

With the Gambler, it’s all about playing the odds. “I just need to reach out to as many people as possible so one of them will become my client or do something for me. Their mantra is “Fill my funnel with as many members as possible and it will all work out.” There’s no focus on what they offer you. It’s often completely irrelevant to your field. Gamblers will often move on to one of the other 800 million LinkedIn members if you ignore their message—as you should. If they keep at it (yes, there are “Terrier with a Rag” members) it’s time to remove them.

6. The Ingratiator

The ingratiator is full of sickeningly sweet fawning and false praise. The message exudes compliments and expressions of enormous respect for your amazing accomplishments and brilliance. But these compliments are often followed by an ask. “Can I pick your brain?” or “Would you like your brilliance to be visible to more of your ideal clients?”

7. The Taker

Their attitude is “Now we’re connections, so I can ask you for a favor.” There are so many forms of this, it’s hard to list them all. They boil down to this: “Can you help me?” The Taker is someone who connects with you because they want what you offer, but they think being a LinkedIn connection is payment enough. The Taker is sometimes combined with the Ingratiator—like this message I received last week: “I love your insightful Forbes articles and see that you’re really passionate about reviewing people’s LinkedIn profiles. I’d love for you to look at mine and give me some advice for improving it.”

8. The Social Climber

Some people’s connections to you have nothing to do with you. They want access to someone you know. “I see you’re connected to ... Could you introduce us?” The opportunity to connect your contacts with each other is a valuable LinkedIn feature, but it needs to be authentic and not the result of a self-centered request from someone whose only interest is whether you can give them access to someone else.

9. The Interrogator

Their calling card is a not-so-veiled attempt to get you to engage in conversation. It's designed to learn how/what to sell to you. It sounds like this: “I’ve been reaching out to all of the thought leaders in my orbit asking about what they're seeing.” These questions would normally provide valuable ways to engage in conversation with new contacts—if they weren't insidious efforts to coax you into a financial transaction.

To avoid members who are more interested in a con than a connection, connect with people you’d truly love to meet, you’d be happy to support and you’d experience mutual growth with because of shared values, passions or interests. But don’t let the annoying members prevent you from opening your network to people you don’t know well. After all, loose connections are valuable and being too focused on only people in your narrow area of expertise will work against you. On the off chance that you do let someone in who fits one of these nine sketchy personas, the  block, report or remove function gives you an easy escape hatch.

William Arruda is a keynote speaker, author, co-founder of CareerBlast.TV and creator of the LinkedIn Profile Type Indicator (LPTI) which measures your LinkedIn profile likability and credibility.

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