What's With LinkedIn?
LinkedIn ain’t what it used to be - or is it? Over the past decade, LinkedIn has proven itself to be a unique beast in the world of social networks. It’s a dedicated hub for professionals to connect, and it’s always done that well.
When I joined LinkedIn, in about 2010, it seemed to be about finding people you’ve worked with, keeping tabs on former classmates and colleagues, with a view to sharing sales leads, job opportunities and quite often, wine.
Soon, everyone was posting articles from Forbes, pimping their blogs and publicising their courses. There were no wedding / pets / food posts. It was all business. Professionals were endorsing their contacts for all sorts of skills. That made sense to me...assuming, of course, that your connections were people you’d worked with who could attest to your skills.
For me, this is where LinkedIn stumbled. I was quite strict in only connecting with people I’d worked with, and only endorsing people for the skills I knew they had. I know others weren’t as strict, as they endorsed me - bless ‘em - for skills they’d have no idea if I possessed.
For example, it seems that every second connection had “change management” listed as a skill. I balked, because as a qualified and experienced Change Manager, I recognised the difference between a professional Change Manager, and a pretender - a sales manager or COO or office manager - who had rammed through a change by sheer brute force, or someone who had been seconded to a change team as a subject matter expert, but hadn’t managed the process of change.
This is where it was so important to connect only with those you knew. Obviously, if members started endorsing eachother for skills they didn’t have, the integrity of the system would break down. And to some extent, it did.
Now, as a freelancer, the role of LinkedIn seems to have flipped. It’s less about who you know, who you’ve worked with
and who you know, and more about who is buying what you’re selling.
Most days I get invitations to connect with people I’ve never heard of. I ignore them - but what if they are potential clients? Am I cutting off my nose? I don’t want a list of connections a mile long if half of the names are meaningless. That’s not my understanding of this network is supposed to function...or, it wasn’t. Has LinkedIn become a professional marketplace where skills and ambitions are out there, polished and ready, roaming cyberspace in search of a buyer? A little tawdry? Maybe. Perhaps I should put my price list on my profile.
Like any social network, how you choose to engage with it is a personal thing. I still find the idea of coffee and getting-to-know-you chat with someone who connected with you on LinkedIn to be too closely related to swiping left. I didn’t sign up for that.
I’ll keep rejecting the LinkedIn invitations from strangers for now. My website address is on my LinkedIn profile. I’d like to think that anyone who was interested in working with me on the basis of that profile would visit the website and if still interested, contact me via phone, email or contact form.
So has LinkedIn changed, or is it me?