I believe the term was first coined by the gentleman that began the Lions’ Lair at The Meta Network (now defunct), Christian Mayaud (who is a top networker himself).
That being said, there is no authority that governs LinkedIn (other than LinkedIn itself, obviously), and thus if a LION (someone who puts LION in their profile on their headline, for instance) responds to an invite with an “IDK”, they are not penalized. You are. I have received a LinkedIn IDK from a “LION” who put the term next to their name on their headline. I even wrote them with a Wikipedia definition of what LION means (note: Wikipedia has since deleted said page) and asked them to invite me into their network to cancel out their “mistake”, but it was to no avail.
In conclusion, while it is relatively safe to invite a LION into your network, there is no guarantee that you will not receive an IDK. That is why it is important to review every LION’s profile and contact details to confirm whether or not they really do welcome your invite or not.
“Does LinkedIn discourage LIONs” is a question I received from a reader after writing this post. LinkedIn apparently _originally_ did not like LIONs, and that is why they only display up to 500 connections per person as well as limit the number of invitations that you can send out. I believe that they wanted to keep a community of professionals which would be full of high quality, trustworthy networks without people getting spammed. I think that some people who just wanted to connect with everyone in the early days or perhaps some spammers may have ruined this for others, but I don’t know. LinkedIn wants people to know each other when they connect, and that is why they give you an option to send a seemingly innocent “I Don’t Know” as a way to turn down a connection.
Recently, LinkedIn has allowed LION groups to exist on LinkedIn, so they are taking a more neutral stance. In fact, the ability to search for LION groups in the groups section, which just began a week or so ago, has made it easier to join LION groups. However, they still place limitations on those who have a lot of connections and send out lots of invites.
So, in the end, I would say that traditionally LinkedIn has discouraged but now they are more neutral towards LIONs. I will also add that 1) I am a big fan of Linked In and believe we all need to follow the rules of etiquette as outlined in the End User Agreement which we agree to when we sign up, and 2) although I have been a user since 2004, only in 2008 have I become a LION, so there are many more in the community who understand this topic in more depth. I welcome everyone’s comments to this post so that we can all get a better understanding of the history behind this.
One last thing to note: Since I originally ended this post back in 2008, the LION movement, and LinkedIn, has changed quite a bit to the point where many Internet Marketers simply see becoming a LION as an easy way to acquire email addresses to either sell or to opt you in to mailing lists which you never subscribed before. Because of this, and other ways of engaging openly in social media with others that have evolved over the last few years, I am no longer representing myself as a LinkedIn LION (click for more details). That being said, in the spirit of open networking, should you 1) personalize your LinkedIn invitation to me and 2) explain your purpose for connecting, I will most likely accept your invite (click here for my LinkedIn profile). This is actually a best practice for inviting anyone on LinkedIn with whom you might not know well.
Are YOU a LinkedIn LION? What has your experience been with the open networking movement? Please chime in in the comments below!
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LinkedIn Lion FAQs
Finding other LIONs on LinkedIn is easy. Simply use LinkedIn’s search function and type in the keyword “lion”. It will then show you the list of people and groups who are open to networking. In addition, you can make your search advanced if you want to find LIONs in specific industries or niches. Just add the niche after the keyword “lion”. For example; “lion social media marketing”, “lion SEO”, and others.
LinkedIn is specifically created for professionals to connect and grow their network.
Open networking on LinkedIn means being open to receiving requests and connecting with people you personally don’t know. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are required to accept every request you receive but at least not flagging or responding to them with an IDK response.
LIONs on LinkedIn generally accept connection requests from anyone. It means they are open to connecting with you even if you don’t know each other personally making it relatively risk-free to connect with a LION that you may find in an Advanced Search. While it is safe to send a connection request to a LION into your network, there is no assurance that you won’t receive an IDK response or they’re required to accept your invitation.
LION is an acronym for LinkedIn Open Networker. LIONs are created to bridge networks of closed users and help those who are struggling to grow their LinkedIn networks. They are open to networking with other LinkedIn users that they have never met before or personally do not know. Furthermore, they generally don’t flag a person as someone they don’t know or send an IDK response.
If you see a LinkedIn user with the word “LION” after their names, it means they are open networkers. The term LION was first coined by Christian Mayaud who began the Lions’ Lair at The Meta Network. He is also a top networker. LION’s goal is to connect with many LinkedIn users, including people they haven’t met or know. Thus, they are open to receiving invitation requests from anyone.