Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

What I do with LinkedIn

The story of a lawyer who was sexually harassed on LinkedIn is in the news. There's not much more to be usefully said about that than "Don't be a dick online, and don't be surprised by the blowback if you are." But it has helped crystallise my own thoughts about LinkedIn generally. (For those of you don't know it, it's a social network which is a grownup version of Facebook.) I find it both useful and frustrating, with the useful outweighing the frustrating, but the frustrations still there.

First, I like the fact that it's a good way of not just staying in touch with long-lost friends, but also seeing what is going on in their lives; as long as people keep their own profiles up to date, it is very useful to see who has changed job or country recently. It's also handy to see who and what you have in common with new professional contacts. Maybe once a month, someone I haven't been in touch with for ages uses it to contact me, and usually it's someone I'm glad to hear from.

Second, I often need to quickly locate people with knowledge of particular countries or subjects, and a LinkedIn search is by far the easiest way of seeing who I know that might fit the bill. (For example, the guy in the next seat on my plane flight yesterday turned out to be a bodyguard by profession. It's unlikely, but not completely impossible, that I may need to find someone offering those services in the future, so I've added him.)

Third, I find the news/blog updates much the best source of information about the mechanics of management that I regularly read, particularly the pieces about recruitment and retention of skilled colleagues (I often feel that hiring people is the most difficult thing to do in my line of work). This probably just shows that I'm not a regular reader of Forbes or the back pages of the FT. But...

Fourth, I find the actual newsfeed of LinkedIn very annoying, even though the content is useful. I would like to be able to choose to view just blog posts, or just updates from my contacts, or just job changes. But LinkedIn is actually worse than Facebook in controlling what you are shown without giving you any choice, which is why I spend much less time browsing it than I do other networks. And...

Fifth, LinkedIn is far too promiscuous in encouraging people to make connections with people they simply don't know. The value of the network is in the strength of its links; LinkedIn asserts this strongly in theory, but in practice strongly encourages people to click the box next to someone who sounds interesting. I get literally a dozen connection requests every week. I reply to all of them, "I'm afraid that I cannot remember how we know each other. Can you remind me please?" Maybe one time in fifty it does turn out to be someone I knew - Hi there, John in Tbilisi! - but otherwise it's a waste of electrons. I won't report good faith invitations from people who I have never met, but I won't accept them either.

If I were more of a freelancer, I'd find LinkedIn even more useful (and perhaps I would find ways of dealing with those frustrations). As it is, I wish they would just fix the obvious problems of giving users more control over the content they see, and encouraging sensible restraint in contacting strangers.
Tags: linkedin

  • My tweets

    Thu, 18:40: Doctor Who and the Silurians and Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters, by Malcolm Hulke, and The Silurians, by Robert�Smith?…

  • My tweets

    Wed, 13:32: Andr�e Tainsy, 1911-2004 Wed, 15:32: RT @ Megintransition: Thinking about attending glasgow 2024*…

  • My tweets

    Tue, 18:14: Erasing Sherlock, by Kelly�Hale Wed, 10:45: First up-close images of Mars’s little-known moon Deimos…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.