In which the author is confused by Linkedin

Early this morning, I got my latest invitation to join Linkedin.

I get a lot of these, because I’m not on Linkedin. The very first request came a few years ago, when I was working at a newspaper and an old source sent me monthly requests to join Linkedin. I got one every month for at least a year before either he stopped trying to invite me or I left my job and lost access to that email account. I can’t remember which happened first. Anyhow, since then, I’ve received Linkedin requests from all sorts of people: former co-workers, current co-workers, students, family members, people I’ve met once, people I haven’t seen in years and friends of my family.

It seems like everyone’s on LinkedIn, and since I’m a sucker for groupthink, I’m beginning to wonder: Do I need to be on Linkedin? And if so, why?

I have checked out the site. It looks like a non-scandalous, grown-up version of Facebook, where people use phrases like “communication skills” and “can-do attitude” in lieu of “OMG” or “LOL.”

And although I realize the site is used to network professionals, I can’t figure out if it is useful or not.

It’s not as if I don’t love social media. Those who suffer my Facebook status updates and my Twitter feed can attest to the fact that I love The Network. It’s ridiculous. I’ve been waiting for it all my life:  I write words and people react to (or fail to react to) those words almost instantly. It’s instant gratification. Sometimes it’s instant mortification. And it’s done wonders for my writing — Facebook has honed my comedic skills by teaching me that 80 percent of everything I say is not funny.

Same thing with Twitter, which has allowed me to gradually connect with other writers, and which has also taught me how to craft very, very short sentences while including hashtags and replies.  And these two sites are really just the latest in a series of social media innovations that I’ve loved and abused. Before Facebook, I was on Myspace. Before that, Livejournal. Before that, I was on Friendster. And before that, there were various messaging and file-sharing groups that I can barely remember. ICQ and Hotwire (I think it was called HotWire. It could have been HotLine. Livewire? I don’t know. The software I’m talking about is from 1995. It’s been lost in the mists of time.) Also, AIM and unsupervised chat rooms, and even the old Apple chat software Broadcast.

All of them were useful in their own way, just as Facebook and Twitter are useful to me now, as I build a reader base and follow what’s going on with my friends and in the world. But LinkedIn? How is that useful? Isn’t it just a way to get my resumé online?

And so, because I have no answers of my own, I end this blog with an obnoxious crowd-sourcing series of questions. Are you on Linkedin? Is it useful? How? Have you obtained a job or gained contacts by being on Linkedin? Please, corporate types. Help a sister out.


8 thoughts on “In which the author is confused by Linkedin

  1. I was an early adopter of LinkedIn and I use it so much in my professional life. I use it to scope out people I meet at conferences, job applicants, people at companies I’m interested in… For example, two weeks ago I was working on a pitch to a company that I want to broach for a partnership. I looked up the company and found people that worked there, and one of them is a former classmate of someone I’m currently working with on an outside project. So I got an introduction. Or I wanted to ask someone at a big company if they were still planning on going ahead with a project, I found a “friend of a friend” who passed on my note and I got an answer in a day.

    I also get to add to my street cred by answering questions in the Answers section, and I like discussing stuff with people in the Groups I belong to. And unlike a real networking party, you don’t have to wear a suit and heels, you can type emails and responses in your pjs.

    • Hi Kate. I was actually hoping you’d respond to this, since I’ve seen you mention LinkedIn in one or two of your posts and I figured that of all people, you’d know what the site was all about. I’m intrigued by the Answers and Groups components. And I’m also interested in how you’re able to see friends of friends. I guess I’m just going to have to sign up and find out.

  2. I too keep getting invites to LinkedIn but can’t understand it. But I also fail at Facebook so maybe it’s just an extension of that.

    …I did just sign up to it though. I think. So add me if you can find me? I don’t know. LOL.

    • If I join, I will find you. Oh. I WILL find you. Muahahahaha!

      But seriously, I don’t get it either. But I’ve gotten enough feedback to maybe want to try it. So if I do, I’ll go looking for you.

  3. I’m on it, but I also don’t understand the inner workings. I have friend who swears by it. It really has done wonders for her freelance writing career too, I just don’t “Get” it… so if you figure it out, let me know.

  4. Ah. You’ve said, er, typed, the magic phrase: “done wonders”. And then you typed an even more magical phrase: “freelance writing career.” If anything has done wonders for anyone’s freelance writing career I want to hear all about it and then try it.

    Does your friend have a blog? A LinkedIn tutorial? If not, that’s cool. I think you just sold me on the site. I will give it a whirl and if I figure it out, I will post an update.

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