Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hi, I'm from ABCD!

For a while, I was actively increasing my LinkedIn contacts, as if it were a board game, where racking up points was a viable strategy to gain specific territories to guarantee prizes or a decent finish. Given the risks of exposing contact information, including personal stuff prized by identity thieves or worse, it might be time to rethink my plan.

I have received a few, but not that many, invites from people I don't know at all. I've tried to be cautious in who I invited, figuring for instance, if I collected their business card at a conference, I had met them (discounting, naturally, the person who takes one persons' card and gives it to the next as a practical joke).

Here's one that stuck out, like, a mile:

The person's name didn't mean anything to me, but then, I forget things like this sometimes. Dale Carn, or what's his name, material I am not. But normally, people list their position as something intelligible. This one shows up as being an "abcd", and better yet, working at company "ABCD". The latter actually has dots, so it's "A.B.C.D, Inc"

Rather than archive or purge this invite, I looked farther. It turns out that the company appears to be a legitimate firm, also known as the "Action For Bridgeport Community Development, Inc." but it located in the state of Connecticut. The erstwhile contact is located, apparently, on a different continent. Feel free to look at this site:

I'm not going to link to the firm on LinkedIn, nor the bogon, but it should be rather easy for one to search. I think you will see a not-so-subtle expansion of the actual company, a community-based non-profit, into a global shell corporation, attracting alleged employees with a wealth of self-imposed titles having little if anything to do with being an "anti-poverty agency". And I suspect they don't really have 500 employees.

In the meantime, my supposed contact has evolved:

You'll note a shift from ABCD to EMAC. The connection is a little fuzzier, but I don't see any companies of that name in the "Textiles Industry".

Unfortunately, I have graduated from third degree contact to second degree, one of my more prolific networking friends having accepted the belief that they know this person. I'll be informing my true friend of this for further action. A total of 10 people have been connected in just a couple days, meaning that the decay of LinkedIn usefulness grew that much more.

Is it time to shine a bright light into the dark corners of this practice?