Open networkers on LinkedIn are often called LIONs (an acronym for “LinkedIn Open Networkers”). LIONs seek to actively increase their connections by sending out and accepting connection invitations.

The Ways Of A LION

LIONs, in general, accept invites from anyone, so it’s relatively risk-free to invite a LION into your network. Most LIONs take pride in touting their specific number of connections; it’s similar to the way celebrities compete to have the most Twitter followers.

The majority of LIONs believe bigger is better and that large networks lead to more opportunity.

How Do I Become a LION?

There is no official LinkedIn designation for a LinkedIn open networker. It’s an unofficial designation coined by people willing to connect with anyone to grow their network as large as possible. The official LinkedIn response in the LinkedIn Help Center is:

LION is a designation used by several user-created groups and individual LinkedIn members to indicate a high level of interconnectivity to other LinkedIn members. This term is not endorsed by LinkedIn. As a reminder, only connect to people you know and trust and only join groups you want your name associated with. If you need additional information regarding any group’s purpose and/or philosophy, contact the identified group owner in the Groups Directory.

If you want to be recognized as a LinkedIn LION, you can add LION to the end of your name in your profile or in your profile headline.

Drawbacks Of Being a LION

Being a LION can have its drawbacks. Unfortunately, with any website or online tool that gets popular, people start abusing its popularity.  We’re now seeing tricks on LinkedIn with fake LinkedIn profiles. Be careful if you receive an invitation from:

  • Someone who has no LinkedIn connections. LinkedIn now warns those who don’t have connections or if they are new to LinkedIn.
  • Profiles with no profile picture—one of my pet peeves, the incomplete profile
  • Profiles with company logos as their profile picture, which is a violation of the LinkedIn Terms of Service
  • Profiles with company names instead of a person’s name. We connect with people, not companies, on LinkedIn!
  • Profiles that use partial names or symbols in their names so it looks machine generated
  • Profiles that have an SEO-optimized name, a phone number, email address, or their website URL
  • Keyword-stuffed title or summary

Do not connect with these people because it’s probably a machine-generated profile or someone who is not on LinkedIn for the right reasons. If someone is not willing to provide their complete name and fill out their complete profile properly, they are not fit for your network.

Connection Request Etiquette

As your network grows, you will begin to receive connection requests from people you don’t know. When you join groups and participate in conversations in that group, people will reach out to you with an invitation to connect. What should you do?

You have six options when you receive an invitation request. Your options are:

  1. Accept. The person will immediately become a first-degree connection in your network.
  2. Reply. You can reply to the person who invited you to connect if you are not sure you want them to become a first-degree connection with you at this time.
  3. Delete. If I don’t know this person, never corresponded with him in a group, and have no mutual connection with our networks, I delete the invitation—unless he will somehow add value to my network.  
  4. Archive. If I receive an anonymous invitation, I will review the profile to see if he is a fit for my network. If I don’t think he is right at this time but may be a fit at some time in the future, I will add the invitation to the Archive.
  5. Ignore. This is similar to adding the invitation to the Archive, but you have two options: You can select “I don’t know them” or “Report as spam.” This sends a message to LinkedIn flagging the person as being a spammer or as someone not using LinkedIn appropriately.
  6. Forward. Sometimes I receive an invitation from a high-quality person who may not be a fit for my network, but is a great fit for one of my connections. I will forward the invitation to my connection, suggesting that she connect with the high-quality person.


Removing a Connection

Sometimes you can connect with a person thinking, She would be perfect for my network! But it turns out, that she’s not a good fit.

Sometimes your connections will be overzealous with constant invitations to webinars or live events they’re conducting. Don’t get me wrong. I love to see people actively promoting their business and events.

I don’t mind occasional invitations, if the events are interesting and related to my current position. I do mind people inviting me to events weekly and sometimes every day—especially if the events are not related to my current job.

When You Receive  Too Many Invitations

If you are connected with someone who you feel is taking advantage of your LinkedIn relationship and sending too many invitations, contact her and ask her to slow down or even remove you from her invitation list.

Most of the time these individuals get the message and stop sending frequent event invitations. Unfortunately, there are those who won’t get the message and keep spamming you with invitations, so you have to remove them as a connection. 

You can remove a connection by going to the Connections tab, browse to the person you want to remove, hover over the More link, and click on Remove From Contacts. This will remove the connection from your network and it will not notify them.


You now know the essentials to connecting with others on LinkedIn. It’s up to you to now decide if you will build a smaller, high-quality network or become a LION and build a massive professional network. You have the ability to vet your connection requests so you can build a professional network that best suits your business needs.


Are you a LinkedIn Lion?

About the author 

Ted Prodromou

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I'm the #1 best-selling author of Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business and Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Business. People call me America's Leading LinkedIn Coach.

I'm the founder of Search Marketing Simplified, LLC, a full service online marketing agency. The SMS team designs and implements advanced LinkedIn and social media lead-generation strategies for small to medium-sized businesses. SMS will set up and manage your marketing funnels using organic, social and paid traffic.

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