5 things about LinkedIn that will drive you completely mad

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LinkedIn Sucks

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?

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?

LinkedIn Screen Shot

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.

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  • http://twitter.com/strandloper Steve Crane

    I received a different email from them congratulating me for being one of the first 500,000 to join in South Africa. Back in those early days they said you should only link to people you have actually worked with, which made sense. Now it’s just another social media site with random people linking to each other whether they know each other or have worked or not, and random people endorsing others for skills they have no idea whether you have or not. As far as I’m concerned LinkedIn has no credibility left.

  • http://twitter.com/GavinHoole Gavin Hoole

    I think it’s time to walk away from LinkedIn altogether. The company seems no longer to be clear about what its own target market is, so it has lost its initial value as a niche service for professional-type people wanting to link up with others and also those wishing to put themselves out there for possible hire. Likewise, companies wishing to find good people for specific jobs must be quite disappointed at the direction LinkedIn has allowed itself to be pulled in.

    I think LinkedIn must have become a bit mesmerised by the whole social media hype and thought that those sites were its competitors. LinkedIn is the last place I would go to if I wanted to find an aromatherapist or foot reflexologist who lives nearby. I (literally) never go to LinkedIn anymore other than for admin clean-up purposes.

    As for it’s almost-spammy approach to growing its reach, well … that says a lot too.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidGrahamSA David Graham

    Thank you for the positive feedback on the Deloitte South Africa LinkedIn groups I manage Sarah. The only way I have managed to keep these groups clean is to lock down everything. No-one can join the groups or add discussions without my approval. I would have preferred it not to be this way but, as you mentioned, I know what will happen if I didn’t. I can say that if you adopt this approach you do get positive results. Focus on connecting with credible individuals and block those who promote unashamedly. I agree with all your points and would add to them but these will be discussed in an article I wrote that should be published on Memeburn soon :) Thank you again for the mention! David Graham (@davidgrahamsa)

  • http://twitter.com/Lynnpdf Lynn PearcedeFreitas

    Interesting that you received that email Steve! I am also in South Africa, but I received an email stating that I was one of the top 1% – and although it came as a surprise, because I do not post often, I must admit to feeling rather chuffed! The only thing about LinkedIn that really and truly irritates me is when people ask me to endorse them – when I have never personally worked with them – that is just ridiculous and annoying! Other than that I really value the connection between like-minded individuals – or acquaintances I have met at tradeshows etc connect – it is a nice way of keeping in contact – and yet keeping your distance at the same time. I actually think it is a great way of developing business if utilised the way LinkedIn originally envisioned the site working, but I have faith that they will now take the feedback and use it positively – at least I hope so!

  • http://twitter.com/Lynnpdf Lynn PearcedeFreitas

    I received an email stating that I was one of the top 1% – and although
    it came as a surprise, because I do not post often, I must admit to
    feeling rather chuffed! The only thing about LinkedIn that really and
    truly irritates me is when people ask me to endorse them – when I have
    never personally worked with them – that is just ridiculous and
    annoying! Other than that I really value the connection between
    like-minded individuals – or acquaintances I have met at tradeshows, events etc
    connect – it is a nice way of keeping in contact – and yet keeping your
    distance at the same time. I actually think it is a great way of
    developing business if utilised the way LinkedIn originally envisioned
    the site working, but I have faith that they will now take the feedback
    and use it positively – at least I hope so!

  • http://twitter.com/wendylandau Wendy Landau

    Facebook has an embedded version of Link In – Branch Out I think? Is it any better? My uncertainty about the name seems to signify it’s not useful to me. I have been on LinkedIn for yonks but absolutely hate it and get nothing from it. I deleted my membership last year but then wanted to look up someone’s contacts which came up in a google so joined again but basically don’t keep a presence and put all their emails in spam.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidGrahamSA David Graham

    I am compelled to harp on about the benefits of LinkedIn if used properly :) Only today i was contacted by the personal assistant of a Chief Information Officer of a very prominent South African company looking for a potential business partner to provide strategic advisory services. The important thing is to connect with the right people, keep the conversations appropriate and keep the riff-raff away

  • http://www.facebook.com/candice.kotze Candice Kotze

    Received the same email, wasn’t sure why. Hardly ever use Linkedin and defs a case of feeling I need to be there but don’t know why.

  • http://twitter.com/stanlouw Stan Louw (GP:ZA)

    Spot on David. Linkedin has many annoyances but the benefits and value far outweigh the hassles. Most of the issues listed above surface in our Linkedin training sessions and can be dealt with swiftly.

  • Hohepa

    It has been one of life’s mysteries for me at least why people need to operate through different persona’s. Their Facebook and their Linkedin, their personal and their professional. Who the hell has two personalities?? and if you do I certainly dont want to connect or be in your life ya freak! Why cant people just be themselves, their Facebook persona, the dude who on weekends dresses in their wifes’ high heels, who really cares if he’s your accountant, so long as he’s doing a fantastic job minimising your tax liability but seriously should you really care what he does out of hours? The fact most Linkedin members want to separate their personal from their professional lives ..ie….dont want their Linkedin connections to be their Facebook friends just smacks of a global lack of authenticity in how we view ourselves and how we want to be viewed by others.

  • Hohepa

    Sorry thought I was connecting via my Facebook account but dug up some old Discus account so to prove I need no pseudonym, I own my comments and my thoughts – Jo Stafford

  • Hohepa

    but thats my point David, your yardstick for measuring credible individuals for joining your groups is based solely on how they ‘present’ to you ..ie… their job status, other perceived ‘value’ connections etc etc Unless you actually know them personally, these the LinkedIn’s litmus tests for social connectivity. Far from authentic.

  • Caroline Hurry

    I totally agree with Sarah … I got exactly the same message … and it feels a bit spammy to me.

  • Dot Field

    I agree with Sarah on this one however can also see your point David. I receive so many requests from people I do not know as well as requests for endorsements. My rule regarding endorsements is if you have not actually worked for me or with me then how can I possibly endorse you. My website still drives the most interest in my work.

  • http://twitter.com/trishpp Pat Pughe-Parry

    Hi Sarah, great article and I do have to agree with you. I also have a LinkedIn profile and I do follow/participate in some discussions but Twitter is number 1 for me. It works well on my Smartphone, I can quickly save links to articles I am interested in and you can block the spam. I haven’t yet found a way to add value to my business using LinkedIn. Having said that I am also still grappling with Google+.

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  • http://twitter.com/rethavs Retha

    Thank you for a great post that certainly made people think about how they used LinkedIn! I don’t agree with some of your points, Sarah, but I see others thinking the same way every day.

    If you only accept connections from those you know, trust and can recommend (as was intended by LinkedIn) you will have a much better experience with it. You don’t have to be connected to network with someone you don’t know on LinkedIn, and accepting all connection requests to be polite is doing your real connections a disservice in watering down their LinkedIn experience too! Irrelevant requests to connect should be checked out and probably ignored as those requesting this blatantly ignore the questions LinkedIn asks to establish how you know this person. I think LinkedIn should get rid of places where these questions are not asked, and we’ll have a lot less irrelevant requests.

    Endorsements are very different from Recommendations – the valuable one here is Recommendations, and if you follow the connection way above, both endorsements and recommendations will come only from people who actually know and trust you! I do find the endorsement feature of much less value, but it serves to remind connections of each others’ skills, and if only for that, I can live with it.. :-) I don’t base my evaluation of someone’s skills on their endorsements but rather on their real recommendations. Endorsements can also not be requested as you mention above. Only recommendations can be requested.

    As far as spam in discussion groups go, I agree with you! :-) Although, I have managed to find a whole host of groups in my industry where this is not a problem. I think it has a lot to do with the moderators, so pick your groups carefully. We cannot blame LinkedIn for the spammers who use it and their antics, but I agree that LinkedIn should be vigilant about addressing spam else we’ll all find another way to network with other professionals.

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