My Relationship With LinkedIn (original blog mistakenly posted 10/31)

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 November 1, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Haha what a wonderful description of LinkedIn as a “a flirty little hooker – teasing me with options and promises, but only if I pay up front”! I hate to admit it, but I also share a similar relationship with this lady.

    I semi regularly check my profile, mostly to see who has been scouting me out and to see what other opportunities could be out there. I have been curious about paying for the a premium membership, but as you mentioned above I did the math and it is roughly $1000 a year. I had to ask myself, what is the price worth paying for these little bursts of gratification that satisfy my curiosity? Perhaps they could help me land something new, but is it worth it? At this point in time I cant justify paying for the extra features… but maybe one day I can satisfy my fix. 😉

  2. Hi Dana, I love LinkedIn, too. I have even signed up for the “Premium” package by cancelling it within 30 days (I’m not sure if that’s a regular promotion or if it’s only offered at times). But it hasn’t ever given me $30 worth of extra information; in fact, about all it’s good for is seeing how many other applicants there are and how you may rank about them, but that’s never proved helpful for me. Of course, you also get to send some “InMails” to people you might otherwise not have access to; again, this has never paid off for me. So I’m happy with the basic package, which allows me to make connections, apply for jobs and network with others.

    • That’s good info. I can’t see myself paying for LinkedIn so I’ll check out the free trial. Interesting that it wasn’t a huge difference. Thanks.

  3. natashajmceachin

    I love this post, and like many people, I REFUSE to pay for Linkedin. My first issue with it is that I’m searchable by everyone except the people I’d like searching for me. For example, I’ve had a few creepy guys and ex-boyfriends get my personal contact information off Linkedin from simply Google searching my name. I’ve never gotten a job interview or meaningful connection that lead to professional advancement.

    Linkedin is very much an illusion, and after this week’s readings I don’t feel like a slacker anymore for not taking it seriously. Obviously, it has some value but it’s not the be all end all that everyone is making it out to be. I do just fine on Indeed and with technical staffing agencies, Linkedin is a nice way to help employers get to know you better but it’s nothing compared to all the hype.

    • That’s a great point of view. I’ve also never gotten more than a couple of fake opportunities. But I’ve gotten real prospects off

  4. What an engaging post! I like how you tied the reading together. I think I appreciate the value of LinkedIn–I think. I most use it to connect people. I used it once to connect with someone I met that knew someone I wanted to network with. I could have easily done that by phone.

    I have to admit I think of leaving all this social media stuff behind much in the same way I think of giving up my mobile phone. Like LinkedIn, they may all be illusions, but they have a very real draw. Once in, it’s hard to leave in a very “tangible” way.

    You might enjoy this post I found while writing my own post:

    • Thanks for the post referral. It seems we can leave many sites, but find it hard to really get a way. Apparently dating sites are the same. I closed my account, but it keeps finding me. Glad you liked my post. It’s been a real challenge for me to get the hang of blogging. Dana

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