We’re all looking for something genuine, and the most common complaint about social networks is that it strips genuine personal interaction. I’m a self-proclaimed apologist for media and social networking, but there’s one resource where I draw the line: LinkedIn.
I am more than my resume.
Now, I realize that expanding to be more personal is essentially copying Facebook, Myspace, etc. I applaud LinkedIn for being specific, picking their game and winning it.
But to me, LinkedIn is just another forced networking event, the kind of thing that I hate in person: let’s have an “event” that is nothing more than a hotel meeting room designated for soulless ladder-climbers to put on a conservative suit, gladhand, exchange useless small talk and maybe a business card and an insincere promise to “keep in touch.” Oh, refreshments will be served.
In the age where we’re all looking for something genuine on the web, or someone genuine in our professional area, LinkedIn comes off as a refugee camp for those who see “work/life balance” as another buzzword on a corporate benefits package; who play golf on weekends for the business value and not enjoyment; who define themselves on a business card. It’s where Reagan-esque capitalism goes to thrive, and altruism goes to die.
LinkedIn: It’s a modern Rolodex, and nothing more.
I will say that LinkedIn does have its place, though only as a “find and be found” resource. I have a profile, and it’s updated. People can contact me and link to my website, blog, and Twitter feed. I can research companies and their HR staff, just so there’s some small level of comfort in a phone interview or a first time meeting. Saying “look me up on LinkedIn” is now more efficient than passing around a small piece of 60# cardstock with your name, number, and email on it, and this is good. But LinkedIn goes deeper than that, essentially turning a warm handshake into a guest who’s overstayed his welcome.
Tuesday is my least favorite day of the week. You know why? That’s the day I get the weekly digest email of the few discussion groups I belong to on there, and am regularly inundated with aimless posts looking for a job, all caps subject lines, and re-hashed discussions about networking via social media – all of which make me want to take a drink and walk down to the lake and beg the sky for lightning bolts. (Music kudos if you get this reference.) The point of social web is to enable two-way communication that the one-to-many mediums cannot offer. But when this becomes overrun with dry profiles only seeking a back scratch, we’ve lost our way.
Stop being polite, and start being real.
Maybe I’m just being “too punk rock for this.” (Pop culture kudos if you get this reference.) I’ve second-guessed myself a number of times, wondering, “do I just dislike work?” I don’t think that’s it. There are aspects of my career that definitely make me tick and partially define me as a person. But I still can’t help but shake my negative connotation of “professional networking.” We need to be meeting people organically, as opposed to the blind-date setup based on the left-brained analysis of career progress that LinkedIn provides. So you can look me up on LinkedIn; but we’ll make a better connection if we meet at a barbecue over a cold bottle of beer.
This post was inspired by this article: