“LinkedIn is useless,” a friend of mine (who’s not in the industry and is quite successful) said to another friend recently. At first, my social Spidey-senses went nuts—these seemed like fighting words, for sure—but before I could “educate” this social naïf, the conversation moved on, and I was left to ponder the possibility that my social-centric world might not be home for everyone.
In my world, LinkedIn is so fundamental I can’t imagine life without it. Before a meeting with anyone new, I almost always check their profile, looking for friends or businesses that we have in common and examining the content they share. After the meeting, a LinkedIn invitation is rarely far behind, enabled by CardMunch (possibly the most time-saving app ever & just in case you didn't know, is owned by LinkedIn!).
But in my friend’s world, LinkedIn is just another a social media time-suck that pulls him away from his more important tasks. When he posted his bio on LinkedIn like everyone else years ago, he didn’t expect the deluge of detritus bursting from his network of business associates, which compelled him to go so far as to block these reports from his email server.
In my world, LinkedIn is an invaluable place to discover great content, not just from friends but also from various topical and industry groups. Inevitably, I find an article in my stream worth studying or passing along to a friend or business associate that I otherwise would have missed. Admittedly, that stream is getting increasingly polluted by a select group of “over-sharers,” and I’m ready for LinkedIn to offer throttles/filters to clean it up.
In my friend’s world, LinkedIn is also losing its luster as an effective recruiting tool. He cites, as an example, the recent addition of instant endorsements that are so easily granted they are becoming the social equivalent of tap water. On this point, my friend is hardly alone: recently Mashable also labeled such endorsements “meaningless.”
In my world, LinkedIn remains the most effective recruiting tool of all time but perhaps not by the way they intended it. When my company needs talent, we rarely place ads on LinkedIn or elsewhere. Instead, I send a few carefully crafted In-Mails to select friends, make a couple of posts to my whole network, and presto—quality resumes start popping up faster than you can say “great headhunter.”
In my friend’s world, LinkedIn is just another over-hyped social network that keeps changing the rules and, ultimately, has little regard for its members’ needs. This particular beef came from his wife, who recently expressed annoyance that her blog posts no longer dynamically populated her LinkedIn profile. (Okay, so she has a point, but the rest of what came with the December 2012 profile update is pretty darn slick!)
In my world, LinkedIn’s now 200 million members (a milestone they hit last week) are all potential content sharers and, hopefully, readers of articles like this one and others that I so diligently churn out. In fact, LinkedIn is typically the source for 10-20% of the readers of my posts on this site and several others. In an era when writers often have to drive their own circulation, LinkedIn is simply a godsend.
So in which world does that leave us? One where LinkedIn is wholely irreplaceable or one where it is largely irrelevant? Like the very definition of a writer, I could not find the words I needed to respond to my friend’s denouncement of LinkedIn a week ago. But now, with a little help from author Lewis Carroll, I offer this retort: “I'm not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different from yours.”