I pruned my LinkedIn rosebush today by snipping a couple of my first-degree connections. I don't do it rashly. I end up deleting someone from my LinkedIn connection list about once a month, and always for the same reason: they've made it clear that they don't do a good job navigating business/social interactions, the type that LinkedIn enables. That doesn't make them bad people. It just means that the snippee and I aren't meant to interact on a platform so ripe for misuse.
My husband says "When someone shows you who they are, believe them." I don't snip people to be mean. In every case (with even the spammiest LinkedIn spammers) I write to them to ask about the incident -- the misuse of an introduction, or the full-frontal spam attack or whatever misfire made me concerned about our association. If they respond, we can have a conversation. If they write back to say (as one lady did today): "It's social networking. This is how it works," I really have no choice -- they've got to go.
(The lady who wrote "This is how it works" is the same lady who invited me to a series of luncheons in a distant city. I wrote to her to say that she could use that slot in her invitation roster for a local person, since LinkedIn limits blast messages to 200 recipients. She responded with "This is how it works." I don't think she read my message. I don't know the lady -- she came to hear me speak in her distant city a few years ago. After "this is how it works," where could the conversation possibly go?)
Here are three good reasons to run a not-ready-for-Linked-primetime connection out of your roll call. A few paragraphs down, I'll tell you how to do it, click by click:
They Think LinkedIn Is an Outbound Marketing Engine
Some people use LinkedIn in place of Constant Contact, sending out daily or weekly blasts about specials, marketing events and book signings. I don't stay connected to those people. I don't care how they use their LinkedIn account, but once I say "Can I get off this distribution?" I need to have the messages stop. There is a kind of person who really doesn't get that networking isn't a transactional thing. They look at their LinkedIn account as a treasure trove of new people to sell to.
I Don't Care About You -- What I'm After Is Your Rolodex
Sometimes you'll get an invitation to connect to someone on LinkedIn, and you'll accept it. An hour later, your new LinkedIn connection is sending you "get introduced through a connection" messages intended for your dear friends and contacts. In one case, no joke, my newest connection was trying to sell my friends beachfront property in South Carolina. That's a big Don't.
Since We're Friends Now
Once in a while a LinkedIn user is so organized that he or she has a special boilerplate message pre-written and ready to send to each of his new LinkedIn buddies. I've gotten a few of these. They tend to be very jolly/formal in tone, and say things like "Hi! Since we're connected on LInkedIn now, here are a few things you should know about me and my business." That's not a deal-killer, but it's not a great sign. Unfortunately, ninety-five percent of the time the person who sends the "Since we're connected now" form letter follows up the form letter with a series of requests. Please read my manuscript. Please edit my resume. I can almost guarantee when I get one of those form letters that I've also been added to the distribution list for someone's marketing newsletter. (Sigh.) It's time to prune the rosebush.
So, you want to remove a first-degree LinkedIn connection? Here's how to do it:
Click on Contacts in the top nav bar on nearly every LinkedIn page, and then Connections just under that. That will bring up your roster of first-degree connections, arranged alphabetically by last name.
On the top right of the page, right under the word "Advanced" in blue, you'll see a link to Remove Connections. Click on that link. It will repopulate the page with a new, alphabetical list of connections. (Don't ask me why the site works that way.) You'll find the name of the person you want to unfriend, click in the box next to that person's name, and click on REMOVE CONNECTIONS in the blue box. Done.
Your former connection won't be notified of the snip, but he or she might figure it out anyway, especially if they try to send you a message and can't. In that case, he or she may write to you to say "Hey, did you disconnect from me?" If that happens, you'll have a choice. You can say "Yes, darling, I'm afraid I did" or you can reply with a spammy message inviting the snippee to your upcoming book signing. That might be the perfect poetic justice.