I'm a LION – Hear Me ROAR!!

July 31st, 2008 | by Jason Alba |

Just a quick disclaimer: I am NOT a LION :)

Have you wondered what this LION thing is?  You’ll usually see it next to someone’s name… like this:

Jason Alba (LION)


Jason Alba [LION]

or, more common, 

Jason Alba [LION 6,500+]

To see all kinds of renditions of this, just search LION in LinkedIn and you’ll find plenty of roaring LIONS.  So just what does it mean, how do you become a LION, where can I find other LIONs, and why should you become one?

What is a LION?

LION is an acronym that stands for LinkedIn Open Networker.   The idea is that, as an open networker, I’ll connect with anyone.  I’m not conservative, I’m not closed (er, closed-minded?), and I really don’t care who you are, what you do, what I can do for you, or what you can do for me… if you invite me I’ll accept the invitation.

That’s a LION in it’s purest form, afaik.  However, I’ve heard of LIONs who actually click the IDK button, which really ticks a lot of people off.  We assume if we invite a LION to connect, they’ll accept, right?  No one wants to get an IDK from a LION… it borders on sacrilege! 

How do you become a LION?

It is a simple self-declaration – that’s it.  No test, no submission, no application… just put LION next to your name (actually, I don’t recommend that, and it is against a LinkedIn policy (which they don’t really enforce)).  Perhaps put it in your summary… but it’s as simple as that.

Where can you find other LIONs?

Simply search for LION on LinkedIn and you’ll find plenty.  But there are some sites dedicated to LIONs, which actually help you grow your network like crazy with no effort.   Here are some other sites that may help you in this LION research phase:

TopLinked – The TopLinked people on LinkedIn

Marc Freedman’s LinkedIn Wiki – this is a great read talking about “active networkers,” and one of the major problems with (or complaints about) them.  

The MetaNetwork – I don’t know exactly what value this brings to LIONs, but if I cared to become a LION I’d investigate it more (I’ve seen them linked to quite a bit)

Neal Schaffer’s post on What is a LION and How Do I Become a LION.  He is a LION, and has a different perspective.

Why should you become a LION?

Well, I’m not a LION, so perhaps I’m not the best person to ask.  Perhaps some LIONs will comment here (and fix any blasphemy I may have written).  One reason to become a LION is so that you can grow your network, supposedly quicker.  If numbers is what you need (to expand your searchability), or something you want (so you can brag about it), then this is a great way to quickly grow a network.  

Whether these connections are actually useful to you, or you have any chance of nurturing individual relationships, well, that will be on a case-to-case basis, I’m guessing.

Note: being a LION and having tons of connections are two different things… I’ll write about having tons of connections in a later, related post :)

(photo courtesy phronk.com)

  1. 11 Responses to “I'm a LION – Hear Me ROAR!!”

  2. By Doug Kyle on Jul 31, 2008 | Reply

    As a LION (I no longer have the word on my profile as I get enough connections from the MetaNetwork and TopedLink), I provide this advice:

    1. Regarding the value of the MetaNetwork – the only thing I use it for is to publish my LinkedIn page. The MetaNetwork will occasionally publish a list of all registered users, which an aspiring LION can then bulk import into LinkedIn in order to get a lot of invites quickly. Currently, with out mentioning LION on my page, I 5-15 invites per day. MetaNetwork claims some other benefits, but I forget what they are.

    2. If you’re going to be a LION, know that you’ll be facing a very wide audience and strategize accordingly.

    My experiences:

    Scenario 1 (the way my profile was):
    I listed many key terms in my subject such as “Project Manager”, “PMP”, “BA”, “Software Development”, “Solutions Consultant”, “IT” and on and on. The intent was to appeal to the broad market.
    As a result, between those words and my large network, LinkedIn reported that my name was showing up in 100s of searches per day (forget how many). My page would get about 100 actual views per week.
    I got no emails from the result. My impression was that I got people cruising the profiles who searched for something like “PMP”.

    Scenario 2 (the way my profile as of 2 months ago):
    Ok, my profile still needs some major tweaking (on my to do list), but I’ve simply changed the subject heading, which is what people searching will see to this: “IT Solutions Project Manager (PMP) in the Industrial, Oil & Gas and Construction sectors”.
    Now I show up in about 50 searches per day, I’m lucky if I get 25 people looking at my profile per month, and I typically get 1-2 email inquiries per week.


    Scenario 1 = lots of hits with 0% follow through

    Scenario 2 = questions via email (i.e. real contact), 2 interview requests, 1 coffee meeting to brainstorm/share knowledge

    You make the call… I think it depends on what you’re offering though.
    Scenario 1 seemed to be the equivalent of putting marketing fliers on windshields… it showed up everywhere (and I’m sure there are benefits for some people for this… recruiters for instance?).

    Scenario 2 seems to be better at attracting, and speaking to individuals and making a connection.

  3. By Mario P. Lopez on Aug 1, 2008 | Reply


    Greetings; I’ll try to do my best to add a third scenario to Doug’s.

    When I started back in July’ 06 as a LI member, I thought that being a LION was a good idea… but it wasn’t.

    During my first two years as a LI member, I’ve had to learn how to revamp my profile and contact settings in order to make things a bit clearer (now, I sort of like who I am but not satisfied yet).

    After receiving invitations from many LION’s with no actual results (many attempts to talk with no answer… just silence), I had no choice but to refresh my list of contacts from 120 to 92. Difficult thing to do because networking doesn’t work that way but I think it’s less difficult to manage.

    Today, from an international perspective, I try to focus my efforts towards creating serious contacts mostly with decision making (hiring) executives working for multinationals (financial institutions and/or private companies) doing business in Mexico (Mexico City).

    I’ve been somehow successful in building a list of contacts mostly in the global financial industry and receive feedback from some of them about local opportunities (nothing concrete yet but still working on it)

    LION’s or not, I’m aware (thanks to Scott Allen and you) that most of the times, quality (involving care and patience) tends to be better than quantity.

    I respect LION’s but don’t like their approach and prefer not to connect with them (I respectfully ask them why they wish to connect with me). I guess it has worked for me.

    Thank you.

  4. By Sean Nelson on Aug 1, 2008 | Reply

    In my local chamber I’m referred to as the LinkedIn guy. I’m often asked if I’m a LION and people are suprised when I say no.

    Each person has to determine their own strategy and if being a LION supports that then more power to them.

    LON’s can benefit folks new to LinkedIn by expanding their network. I advise everyone trying to build their network to connect to a couple of LION’s to do so (although I usually give them the name of a couple of people I know who are Lions but are also active in the community).

    On the flip side I think Closed networkers are missing one of the benefits of being on LinkedIn and that is to expand their network.

    I’ve met many new contacts by inviting them to connect after they attended the same chamber meeting that I did, even though we did not meet personally. I usually find that the connection is a great ice breaker and at the next meeting its easy to get into a conversation. Maybe with this philosophy I should call myself a TIGER, or just simply a NETWORKER.

  5. By Karen Swim on Aug 1, 2008 | Reply

    Hi Jason, great post! I am a LION. I chose to become a LION so that I could broaden my network and have a larger pool of people that I could access to help my job search clients. I am not one to focus on the numbers and while I have committed not to hit IDK, I also am not obligated to accept. Do I know everyone personally? No, but I certainly have truly connected with people I would not have otherwise met. However, recently I have grown irritated by LIONS spamming my email after we’re connected. Agreeing to connect is one thing but I did not agree to receive every marketing message or join every Ning group known to mankind. In this regard, people should treat it like email marketing and follow the same rules. I should be able to opt in or out of your emails. This does not mean I don’t want to remain connected but if you are going to mass mail people you need to be prepared to manage that list and the user preferences. This alone has made me question removing the LION designation.

  6. By Jason Alba on Aug 4, 2008 | Reply

    I posted a link to this post to a LinkedIn forum and got a response from a major LION advocate, stating that I was fundamentally wrong on a number of points here.

    I asked him to post his comment here, but he said he doesn’t do blog stuff. I do think that his perspective is valuable, so if you are in LION investigation mode” please read his post.

    Realize, however, that the entire thread is a bigger picture, where he gets blasted by other members of the forum, and his replies tell a lot about his character. If this is something (or someone) you want to get involved with, go for it. Just realize what/who you are getting involved with.

    I only recommend you read the entire thread if you have the time and interest in LION stuff (or, are doing a paper on the social aspects of online forums).

    Realize that I wrote some stuff that maybe I shouldn’t have, and there is a lot of strong finger-pointing stuff going on there. I am personally attacked, and the LION guy says that based on this post, 20% of my book must be flawed :) Don’t read it on a queasy stomach, it’s the darker side of humanity.

    Finally, I have chosen to NOT respond, based on the moderator asking to close the thread, and my assumption that any reply would just keep feeding the fire.

  7. By Neal Schaffer on Feb 5, 2009 | Reply

    Hi Jason,

    Wow! It’s an honor to have been mentioned in your blog about LinkedIn … by far the most valuable resource (and book!) out there concerning the subject. Thank you!

    I continue to see people asking “What is a LION” on the LinkedIn Q&A, and several months after writing my original definition I would simplify the meaning by just saying that a LION is someone who is generally open to receiving new invites, but does not necessarily accept them. I have seen too many exceptions to the rule to state otherwise.

    As far as finding other LIONs, there are many open networking groups on LinkedIn, such as the original LION group, where LIONs can be found. That being said, just putting “LION” as a keyword in the People Search will return more than 18,000 people (not all are LIONs but doing a boolean search and adding “Open Networker” or “Invite Me” will still give you many results). Similarly, if you are a LION, through SEO techniques, I was able to get my profile to be in the top 40 listed for a “LION” search. And this was not difficult to do.

    It all depends on your objective of why you use LinkedIn. For someone who spent most of his career working for foreign companies abroad and currently in transition and wanting to connect across continents and industries, a LION strategy makes perfect sense for me. But it is definitely not for everyone. And I don’t pretend to be the authority on what a LION means, because with so many new “LIONs” over the last several months, the meaning of the word has become diluted to the point where there is no single authority on the subject anymore.

    Thank you again for all of the insight that you have provided and looking forward to your new blog posts as LinkedIn continues to evolve!

  1. 5 Trackback(s)

  2. Sep 8, 2008: What Value Does A Bigger Network Bring You? | I'm On LinkedIn - Now What???
  3. Mar 2, 2009: What is a LinkedIn LION? - A 2009 Revision « Answers to Common LinkedIn Questions
  4. Mar 2, 2009: Should You Be An Open Connector? | I'm On LinkedIn - Now What???
  5. Jul 15, 2009: JibberJobber Blog » Blog Archive » LinkedIn Profile Tips & a LinkedIn Profile Makeover
  6. Dec 7, 2010: LinkedIn Open Networker (LION) | I'm On LinkedIn - Now What???

Post a Comment