Everyone is talking about LinkedIn: arguing how important it is for career mobility, trying to sell it as a cornerstone of business development and sharing anecdotes about all the job offers that are rolling in. Until recently, I had managed to resist engaging with it. It might be odd for someone who works in digital marketing but I just didn’t see the point.
My reluctance to engage didn’t have anything to do with a lack of understanding of its mechanics. I appreciate the value a social network focused on professional interaction can offer users. The ability to communicate your extended networks and have your professional skills peer reviewed is a useful way of demonstrating expertise. The capacity to connect with potential employers and, conversely, employers being able to review the skills and networks of potential employees is also very appealing.
There are plenty of people who have gotten meaningful value out of being on LinkedIn, there are others who haven’t. Personally, I just never felt any inclination to establish or maintain my own profile. This reluctance probably steams from a simple lack of ambition.
A LinkedIn profile was forced upon me by a recent change of job. The new role requires me to maintain a company profile and this meant establishing a personal profile. Biting the bullet, I dug up a semi-professional looking photo and dumped in my CV. Then I had a bit of a poke around.
My initial experiences confirmed that I haven’t missed much. The user interface is clunky and annoying to navigate. The majority of user profiles look identical. “Make sure you look your best,” is the advice provided when uploading a photo and it seems that everyone has complied. Well-lit and well-framed profile shot of people in business attire are a dime a dozen. Everyone also has an extensive list of skills and experiences. The most disappointing aspect is that the majority of content shared on the network is completely uninteresting.
Bored, I decided to experiment. I uploaded a completely inappropriate photo. I added a bunch of weird skills: triangle making, sandblasting and hat wearing to name a few (all of these skills are legit: I made triangular pre-fabricated roof trusses for two years, worked as a labourer for a sandblaster and wore hats on both jobs).
Other than becoming the number one triangle maker listed on Linked the tweaks haven’t really made any difference. I still receive a similar number of requests for connections. I still get same amount of skill endorsements. I doubt the job offers will flow but at least I’ve made a boring workplace chore a little more fun. My attitude might change as soon as I start looking for a new job but for the time being I’m going to leave LinkedIn to the professionals.