So were you one of the roughly 10-million people who got a mail from LinkedIn congratulating you on having one of the top 5% most viewed profiles? Did it make you feel special? Or, as in the case of Diane Truman, editor-in-chief of Zillow, did you find it creepy?
Sarah Britten is the strategic planning director at Y&R Johannesburg.
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I was thoroughly irritated by that mail. It felt very spammy, a blatant attempt to appeal to narcissism, and not entirely credible. If I’m one of the top 5% most viewed profiles, and I’ve never generated any work as a result of my presence on LinkedIn, then what does that say about LinkedIn?
I have a love-hate relationship with one of the world’s fastest growing social networks. Well, not so much love-hate, more tolerate-hate, but you get the picture. LinkedIn is essential for some of my clients, and it can be a very effective recruiting tool. So I always include it in my business-to-business strategies. But in my personal experience, it’s one of those things you do because you feel you have to be there, and the value it offers is more theoretical than anything else. If I pick up clients, it’s through Twitter, not LinkedIn.
Here’s what bugs me most about what one of my Twitter followers describes as “Facebook for business”:
1. The spam on the discussion groups
Most of the discussion groups I belong to are infested with spam for six pack abs, make money from home opportunities and people punting their own businesses. Discussion groups are for the most part for the goodie two shoes crowd who start discussions and… crickets. Some groups do work well – fellow Memeburn contributor David Graham does a pretty good job of driving engagement on his – but most of the ones I belong to don’t.
2. Endorsements by people who don’t know you from Adam
I understand if people have read my opinion pieces and like what I have to say. But when somebody I’ve never worked with endorses me, it’s nice… but it’s also meaningless.
3. Being asked for endorsements by people I’ve never worked with
I refuse to endorse anyone unless I’ve actually worked with them and feel able to endorse them without putting my credibility on the line.
4. The irrelevant requests to connect
I accept these requests because it’s polite and you never know, but all too often they are from people who work in unrelated industries who are never likely to engage my services. Sure, there was the time when a troll posing as a prostitute sent me a LinkedIn request as part of some obscure social experiment, but that’s about as much excitement as I’ve ever had there.
5. The lack of engagement
I dutifully post links to my LinkedIn timeline, but if I want to deal with real people, I go to Twitter. People just don’t go to LinkedIn to hang out or talk to each another. Sometimes there will be fruitful discussion in a group, but it’s always the same people, and spending time with LinkedIn groups sometimes feels like sitting in the library with the chess club over break instead of hanging with the cool kids at the bottom of the rugby field. As a result, I spend very little time on LinkedIn.