LinkedIn. Is it really anymore than Facebook with a tie?
Published B&T – April 2016
After being a LinkedIn member for just over 4 years now, I am beginning to wonder if the effort is worth the reward. Yes, many more people have joined in the past 4 years, but is this a good thing? The numbers are impressive at first glance, but is bigger better?
Not only on LinkedIn, we see it everywhere, the pursuit of fame through blogging and having your name appear in a public domain. Andy Warhol was spot on. Having recently run focus groups with early 20’s socially switched on students, their fixation with and pursuit of fame was extraordinary. I can still remember the days when a person had to excel at something of social value to become famous. Now, people are famous just for being famous – the massive coverage across every media platform for a reality TV star (an oxymoron, or moron would be more appropriate), who had a sex change operation was a perfect example. I would say he did it for the money and fame as much as anything. Hey, I would have artificial breasts put in for millions of dollars too, but would draw the line at having an appendage I am very fond of chopped off. So did he/her. The breasts can be removed, the other can’t be sown back on. If he really wanted to become female, he would have gone the full 9 yards (maybe that should be 6 inches).
On Facebook, there is kudos in the number of “friends” a person generate. With LinkedIn it is the number of contacts, with the goal of reaching 500+. I have been told you need to have 500+ contacts to be seen as person of professional substance. I always thought a contact was someone you knew well enough to be able to able to talk to and gain information, be considered for a tender list etc. A relationship of some substance. I wonder how many people on LinkedIn with 500+ contacts could write down the name of each, without referring to a list. Could they pick up the phone and call any of them and get through? Would the response from every one of them be “Oh, I know Tom/Dick/Harriet, put them through, they are a contact of mine”? Me, thinks the response from probably 450+ of them would be “Who the hell is that? Take a message”.
With the 365 million (or whatever the current number of members is now) people all writing articles and voicing opinions, it is akin to trying to hold a conversation with a 100,000 people in a sporting arena. Yes, it does seem hypocritical for me to be posting an article, but it is the last one. I have decided to cancel my LinkedIn membership. In the 3 years I have been a member it has not generated one cent in new business, but it has taken up a lot of my most precious commodity – time.
Everyone “optimises their profile”. Well of course they do. I have yet to read a profile which highlights “Bad breath, smelly feet, drinks too much and passes wind in meetings.” There is a thriving business in writing and “optimising” peoples’ profiles. So we have 365 million people, all saying how good they are. Of course you will stand out, just ask perfect strangers to be a contact and reach 500+.
I was also thinking that anyone who has more than 500 genuine contacts doesn’t need to be a member of LinkedIn.
LinkedIn was probably once a worthwhile “club” to join. Just as the internet was once only used by academics and “Netiquette” reigned supreme. It has now become one more element of the information overload we all suffer from. As well as now being too big to be of value, I am taking the Groucho Marx philosophy of “I would never join a club that would have someone like me as a member.”