I’m seeing a disturbing trend of late: people using LinkedIn to blatantly self-promote and hawk their wares.

It started with a trickle: An occasional e-mail suggesting I might be interested in a Webinar, a conference, or a book. Then it progressed to group owners sending regular “updates” (yes, you can ask click off “allow group manager to send me an e-mail”–but should you really have to?). Now it seems at least once a week someone’s offering me something I can’t refuse. Oh, but I can.

It’s rare that I delink from someone, but it’s happened occasionally. The first time was a person who decided to use my contacts as their personal prospecting list. The most recent was someone whose response to my polite query to take me off their LinkedIn e-mail list was “this comes through LI. In order to stop them disconnect me from your list.” (By the way, you can target your lists if you want to.)

Do we need to rethink our connections?

Like many people, my use of LinkedIn has shifted over time. Where I once linked only to people I knew personally, I’m now connecting to people I interact with on other social networks, have met at a conference, or with whom I otherwise have a “weaker” starting connection. Perhaps because these connections are weak, some people don’t mind adopting a scattershot approach to promoting their business.

What’s been your experience?

Photo by Ray MacLean (Flickr).