My Relationship With LinkedIn

I love LinkedIn. I visit her regularly, usually sneaking away from my work monitor to check her app on my phone. I’m addicted. But LinkedIn’s like a flirty little hooker – teasing me with options and promises, but only if I pay up front. She is, what Jonathan Zittrain in Smart Technology – Future Employer or Job Destroyer calls, an “owned platform” that supposedly promises “abundance.” But Andrew Keen, referring to Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, says abundance hasn’t happened – it’s just an illusion on a platform that everyone uses. So what? It’s how we find jobs and stay connected and updated to industry happenings. Yet Keen asks, “to what extent do you need a platform” (33:56)? What extent? It’s where I go; it’s expanded my options. Or has it?


Well, it turns out these owned platforms actually make our world smaller, and the platform itself harder to escape. We become reliant on LinkedIn to help us find connections, information and jobs – to the exclusion of other resources. That’s a problem with solely using technology, the Internet, and these “pay for more” networking sites. Plus, it’s expensive. As Zittrain states, “If everybody uses it, it’s going to take a larger cut” (39.56). Which is what really annoys me about LinkedIn. She lets me look around, and browse some resources, but she doesn’t let me look as good as I am to prospective employers, colleagues, and a plethora of professionals who could mentor me or connect me to others. Do I even look good enough; am I creative, relevant, and clear on the benefits I offer…everyone? In Using LinkedIn to Get Work, Rich Maggiana and Ed Marshall (2010) describe a LinkedIn profile as “a living document of your professional life” (p.32). Yikes. And while I think I’m projecting well and tons of people are admiring my skill set, one look at my weekly up/down searched statistics shows that clearly I’m not being “seen.” But I want to be seen!


So she tempts me. Every day. She knows I like the look of her and that I wonder about her “premium services.” Don’t I want an open profile, expanded search options, and to know who’s checking me out and ranking me? I can have it she whispers, if I’d just fork out that teeny-weeny, recently increased price of $30 or $50 a month. But there’s more, and it’s not even a whole $1000 dollars annually. Makes my pulse race, which is why I can’t stay away. In Net Smart, Harold Rheingold (2014) states, “Our hormones reward us for information seeking and social contact…” (p. 246). And he advises that we “regard search as a process of investigation…instead of searching to find, search to discover” (Rheingold, 2014, 248). LinkedIn shows me a “selective audience,” one made of up people similar to myself, but without premium services, I can’t access the broad audience of network contacts that makes LinkedIn valuable. Which means I’m not succeeding at the purpose of LinkedIn. It’s become a second Facebook and I’m a passive spectator.

In Who Owns Your LinkedIn Connections, Dorothy Dalton states, “What is clear is that network contacts are a currency with significant value to anyone as a job seeker.” And I need more. So I guess it’s time for me to follow Maggiana and Marshall’s steps to be successful on LinkedIn: write updates weekly, list awards and conferences, and make sure my profile is set to full view. None of which makes me more searchable…


So she wins. I guess I have to pay up

Posted on October 31, 2015, in Blogs, Social Media, Technology. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi Dana,
    This idea of having to “pay up” – seems to be the philosophy of our life. With so many things in our life – it seems like that is always the case. I recently had a phone call with a food activist in help with transitioning to a new life style. As I was reading through your post it made me think of the conversation I had with her. In that throughout the whole conversation, it set me up to want it – then BAM! Price bomb.

    I have to wonder if this is often where we have our moments of trying to get a good deal because it seems like we are always getting asked to pay for something. But if it is a service – should we pay for it? Would we argue a car shop for the price they charge us for an oil change to keep our car running? If not, why would we question a service that could keep our career running? It’s interesting how things like this come down to price and other things we make drastic arguments against.


    • Hi Chelsea, Intersting correlation to a car service. I wonder if we consider Internet services to be less “tangible” than something like going to an actual place for a service (i.e.: oil change). While I wouldn’t think twice about paying a headhunter to job search, it simply irritates me to pay LinkedIn. Possibly because they aren’t doing anything. Do they provide connections – yes. But if I spent enough time I could probably find them myself. So fee for online platform services may need to be viewed as convenience fees, like you pay the bank for a transaction. And yes, no matter what we do these days, everyone asks us for money. Sigh. Dana

      • Chelsea Dowling

        It is sad! But I can definitely see how these “convenience fees” would pay for themselves. In a world where there seems to be “so little time” – I think people are looking for things that will save time. For example, when I got my new phone there was a free trial to do talk to text. I have a new app on my phone, that will take the voicemail and allow me to read it in a text format or even listen to it – without having to enter my pin to hear the voicemail. Of course that wasn’t free, but after the trial ended that was a convenience I didn’t want to give up.

        But I kind of look at the LinkedIn fee like Match. If you are out looking for a job / career – you may want to pay that extra fee. But when you have found that special one (the job I mean) you obviously aren’t looking for anything on the side so why would you pay for that account?


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