Best Practices in Linkedin

What is a “LION” on LinkedIn?

You’ve seen it before…the acronym “LION” proudly displayed on a LinkedIn member’s headline. What does it mean? Should you become a LION?

The acronym L-I-O-N stands for LinkedIn Open Networker.

LIONs are LinkedIn members open to networking with everyone, previously known or not. The LION generally accepts every invitation request to connect or, at the least, will not click the “I Don’t Know” button in response to an invitation.What is a Lion on Linkedin?
Wikipedia provides a bit of history: “The LIONs was founded by Christian Mayaud in January 2006. Christian was quickly joined by like-minded John L. Evans from the United Kingdom, and between them they rapidly established the LIONs Group on Yahoo. John L. Evans applied to LinkedIn for a Badge of recognition and invented the idea of including [LION] in members’ name/headlines to enable LIONs to search each other out and connect.”
When LinkedIn began, a member could send unlimited invitations, and the profile stated exactly how many connections the member had. Today, each new LinkedIn member begins with 3,000 invitations, and cannot accumulate more than 30,000 connections. As well, once 501 connections are reached, the profile merely states “500+”. Restrictions such as these fueled Mayaud in founding the LIONs.
See what LinkedIn thought about LIONs in 2009.


LinkedIn’s rules state members should not connect with people they don’t know.
LIONS may also lose their home page module, meaning they cannot see the feature “People You May Know”. LinkedIn explains, “According to the LinkedIn User Agreement and to guard against unsolicited mass mailings, LinkedIn should not be used to connect with people you do not know. In order to minimize this type of activity, we remove the home page module when we notice any of the following Profile attributes:

  • The word “LION”, “toplink” or “mylink” in the name or headline.
  • An “@” and “.com” in the headline.

Once this information is removed it could take up to two weeks before the module is returned to your home page.”
Clearly, while LinkedIn tolerates LIONs, they remain cautious. Given the recent spate of LinkedIn spam and the fresh wounds of the LinkedIn password hacking debacle, it’s no wonder.
Word to the wise: Think long and hard before adding LION, toplinked or mylink to your headline.


If every member followed LinkedIn’s advice to connect only with known people, how would tight-knit networks ever evolve into bigger networks? Therefore, LIONS forge larger networks for everyone by accepting almost every connection request.

Why “I Don’t Know” (“IDK”) Responses Matter

When you respond to a connection invite with “I Don’t Know”, this marks the invitation as spam. LinkedIn may impose restrictions on a member who receives 5 or more IDKs. If you designate yourself a LION, however, and another member IDK’s your invite, you will not be penalized.



LinkedIn may impose restrictions on a member who receives 5 or more IDKs.

Social media is growing up, but LinkedIn Dos & Don’ts about connecting prevail. While LION groups abound, LinkedIn continues to clamp down on anyone who behaves like a spammer (sending out too many invites and connecting too quickly with too many).

How to Be a LION

True LIONs use the acronym on their profiles, provide an email address, and may make the statement, “I am open to all invitations to connect”.  To be a LION is to support the LION philosophy of connecting with everyone.
lion2Some members provide their email addresses freely, but do not designate themselves as LIONs (like me.) TopLinked members pay a monthly fee for access to thousands willing to connect with anyone. TopLinkedis not sanctioned by LIONs, nor is MyLink. (Take note – these lists are traded and may contribute to spamming.)
Bottom line: quality will always trump quantity. Do what is right for you, and do it thoughtfully.

Victoria Ipri teaches small businesses how to use LinkedIn for stronger networks, greater visibility and real lead generation. Her phone mentoring program is popular among solopreneurs, and small businesses across the globe enjoy Victoria’s webinars and hands-on LinkedIn training seminars. She is the author of LinkedIn For The Clueless, available on Amazon. You can reach Victoria at or 610-616-3576. Watch for her new website, coming soon!

  • Courtney

    That is a really awesome “Bottom Line.” Thank you so much for these insights and clarifying some misconceptions I had. Much appreciated!

    July 12, 2012 at 3:28 pm
  • Francisco

    I didn’t know that LION stands for “LinkedIn Open Networker”. I was always puzzled by that, but thanks for clarifying that for me, and thanks for the pointers on “How to be a Lion”.

    May God bless your work!

    January 29, 2013 at 2:00 am
  • Jiangpeng Zhang

    Thanks for the detailed explanation. I just knew the “LION” term a few days ago at a startup marketing meetup. Your article made it clearer.
    Thanks a lot and have a nice day!

    September 13, 2014 at 5:50 pm
  • Doug

    Thank you Victoria for taking the time to explain. Your explanation and advice are both excellent!

    June 29, 2015 at 2:04 pm
  • Kye

    Your article was very informative! Thank you!

    August 18, 2015 at 8:52 pm

Leave a Comment: