With the explosion of Social Media in the last few years, it appears there is a channel for everything. I guess it’s a bit like exploding the saying ‘a place for everything, and everything in its place’. We’re all on Facebook (well if the 7 billion people world wide figure is to be believed), more and more of us are on twitter and if you’ve got any kind of professional job, chances are, you’re on LinkedIn.
So why am I getting on my high horse about LinkedIn? Well it was a tweet that I read the other day, about people adding people who they don’t know. And do you know what? it really got me thinking – why do people add people they don’t know to their professional network?
I think I’m one of those people who are a bit trepidatious about adding people I don’t know to what is essentially a private network. I only really want to add people that I truly know. I’ve gone through spates of removing people from Facebook, because, well – just because I went to school with you 19 years ago – it doesn’t mean that I really want to be friends with you now. So, I’m a bit more reserved about adding people.
I guess this is why my LinkedIn profile only has something like 70 contacts and my Facebook one 80ish. There is of course that prime number that suggests you can only know so many people before the number becomes un-manageable. Even so, I’m more about the quality than I am about the quantity when it comes to these two channels.
The thing with LinkedIn is that many people now seem to use it to find jobs, they don’t from what I can tell seem to use it as a method to keep in contact with people professionally. So what purpose does it serve? I get very confused by these people who have over 400 contacts on LinkedIn, and yet they don’t really communicate with anyone, and what they do, within LinkedIn is just seem to lurk.
Someone I used to know said to me that they didn’t use twitter because they didn’t have anything to say, I’m inclined to disagree everyone has something to say in one way or another – it’s what makes us interesting as people. The little nuggets that this person used to come up with were hilarious and it felt like the rest of the world was being robbed because nobody else got to hear them. So if you just collect contacts like they’re a digital rolodex then what does it say to the people you follow?
If you’re going to put together a social network, it seems to me, that you’ve got to have a really good mission for what you’re trying to do. Look at Friend’s Reunited – it effectively got ousted from the social sphere because Facebook does it bigger, and it does it better (I felt dirty saying that). Friend’s Reunited is too niche – and their attempts to make it less so have fallen rather flat on its face (this is a story for another time). Perhaps LinkedIn will go the same way?
The thing about LinkedIn is that there’s too much going on, too much choice and there’s very little in the way of it being helpful. If you work in a creative field – it doesn’t show case your work. If you work in the UX field, it doesn’t reflect how good you might be. Yes, I know they’ve gone public in America, but I think potentially they need to slim down their offering, and try to scale back on something they’re not.
So I’m wondering, how long is it before twitter and Facebook overtake LinkedIn as the place to go to find your next job, or your next employee? If you think about it, twitter and Facebook can give you a better view of the person behind that formal CV. When you’re on either channel, chances are that you’re talking about things that aren’t just work related. You’re talking about what you like, what you read, what you’ve seen, you share the good times, and sometimes the bad. You get a view for what the person is really like. LinkedIn? well, it’s all about the career.