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Is LinkedIn Useless?

“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.” 

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  • Jun 28 Posted 8 months ago Rorge

    "In my world, LinkedIn remains the most effective recruiting tool of all time."

    This speaks less to LinkedIn's usefulness and more to the dearth of professional networking tools out there than anything else.

    LinkedIn is basically an online resume service.  The only reason it survives is:

    1)  People are too lazy to get domains of their own and post their own resumes

    2)  No one else has come along yet and eaten their lunch

    LinkedIn for networking?  You mean, that thing where if you don't already know someone you can't even send them an email?  Uh, yeah, that's useful.  "Oh, you mean, if I send LinkedIn money I can send them an email?  Wow, that's awesome!!  I never would have figured out how to find anyone in my industry and/or send them an email without this awesome service!!!"

    Again, more proof of people's laziness than LinkedIn's usefulness.

  • Oct 29 Posted 1 year ago Clem

    So far, my experience with LinkedIn after several years of basic membership and dozens of unsolicited requests by people I don't know to join their networks (to which I almost always reply, "sure, why not?" in the spirit of adventure), my estimation of the value of LinkedIn is the same as my opinion of the value of screen doors on submarines. 

  • dneisser's picture
    Feb 5 Posted 2 years ago dneisser

    Thanks for your note Seamus.  Sounds like we share the same reality when it comes to the utility of LinkedIn.  Not everyone gets it which is fine by me;-)  

    Drew

  • dneisser's picture
    Feb 5 Posted 2 years ago dneisser

    Thanks for your note Seamus.  Sounds like we share the same reality when it comes to the utility of LinkedIn.  Not everyone gets it which is fine by me;-)  

    Drew

  • dneisser's picture
    Feb 5 Posted 2 years ago dneisser

    Thanks for your note Kent.  Completely agree.  Everything is useless if you don't know how to use it;-) 

  • dneisser's picture
    Feb 5 Posted 2 years ago dneisser

    Jack--thanks for your note and reality check.  My post was not meant to address or underplay the on-going challenges of gaining employment but rather offer up my perspective as a small business owner on the utility of LinkedIn.  Clearly LinkedIn has been of no use to you in your job hunt which is unfortunate.  All I can say is that I do hope you find more useful sources that will lead to gainful employment.  Best of luck in your search. 

    Drew

  • Feb 5 Posted 2 years ago Jack Connolly

    I agree with the friend you quoted in the article.  LinkedIn is useless, and your defense of it sounds very much like "ad copy"--trying to "spin" reality.

    Over the past five years, I have discovered that the "justice" of the job market is simple and severe.  If something gets you a job, it's a good thing.  If it doesn't get you a job, it's a bad thing.  LinkedIn has been of NO help to me at all in finding a job;  therefore, it is a very bad thing.

    Don't tell me about "networking" or "effective recruiting tool" or "properly using the platform."  I've done all that.  LinkedIn is just smoke-and-mirrors, used to distract people from the reality that there are 15 million fewer jobs today than there were five years ago.  The Great Recession is NOT over, and 15 million unemployed people just like me are suffering mightily.  And I'm tired of hearing people like you (safely and steadily employed) blaming US.  You have NO idea how bad it is "out there."

  • Jan 18 Posted 2 years ago seamus_mcquaid

    Drew very interesting article. I think I am guilty of an assumption, that everyone else has a daily dosage of LinkedIn. Opens up a wider question about how we use social media, whilst we in resourcing et al, bang on about it, are the people we are trying to connect to as equally enthused about the plethora of social media options available to them.

    Yes it is our reality, and LinkedIn et al shape that reality. However we should be aware that not every piece of talent is going to be readily available, in the obvious places. I suppose that’s what keeps the job interesting, because change is a contact element of our work. 

  • Kent Ong's picture
    Jan 17 Posted 2 years ago Kent Ong

    Hi Drew, your friend should understand that Linkedin is just a platform to use. When your friend thought Linkedin is useless, but why other people can make money thru' the same platform?

    It depends on us how to use the platform. If one doesn't know how to use social media, they will blame social media rather than oneself.

    Who is actually useless? :)