It appears that the last time I wrote anything really positive about using LinkedIn was March 2012; now that’s a shame. The real shame isn’t that I haven’t written anything positive about it; the shame is that it’s not quite what it was back then, thus it’s a bit more difficult these days to be as positive as I was then.
As I wrote in my previous post regarding social media in general, LinkedIn is supposed to be for business networking. To a degree it still is that. For instance, they have groups like Facebook does but you won’t see a group on there talking about Harry Potter or reality TV. However, within some groups the lines are blurred a bit here and there and you wonder if you’re actually there to talk business or be a captive audience for carefully (not always) crafted sales messages from both companies and individuals.
Part of it’s problem is that it knows what it wants to be and yet it’s in direct competition with two other monoliths, Facebook and Google Plus. Sure, Facebook really doesn’t concentrate on business, but many businesses are there, including me, and we’re competing for the consumer as opposed to other businesses to work with. Overall, who’s more likely to buy, consumers or businesses? After all, everyone is a consumer, but not everyone is a business. And Google Plus hasn’t really defined itself either, but when you’ve got nearly 300 million people and, well, you’re Google, the numbers are only going to increase and they’re going to increase fast.
One of the strangest things LinkedIn has done is set up this thing where it makes recommendations to people as to what to recommend you for, making it easy for your connections to share your expertise with everyone else. The thing is that many things you end up being recommended for aren’t your expertise, and it’s not only people you don’t know well who are recommending you for those things. To that end, why do people I don’t know all that well but have connected to through some entity or another recommend me at all, especially if they’ve never been to my website or read a blog post? Maybe it’s because when you recommend someone for something you get your picture listed next to it; I’m not really sure…
You can be recommended for up to 50 things by other people. If there are other things you’re recommended for but don’t break through the top 50, you have to remove something to let something else in. That sounds simple but the fact is that if you pay much attention to it at all you’re always deleting something that LinkedIn itself came up with, and it’s over and over; so strange. And sure, they picked out a lot of stuff that does fit me as far as what I can help people with, but I can assure you that “volunteer management”, “creativity coaching” and “entrepreneurship” aren’t really specialties of mine. Not only that, but some things I’ve been recommended for multiple times, once with capital letters, once without; that takes away from things doesn’t it?
LinkedIn did add one new feature that’s kind of neat. You get to add a link or video to whatever business you mention. Because I have two different businesses listed, I got to add one for each, and I took full advantage of that, though I wonder who the heck will be watching them. No matter; links are links if they’re legitimate, and both should give those who may stop by and not know so much about me an idea of what I can do for them or with them; never miss taking advantage of an opportunity to promote yourself for free is it’s a legitimate offer. 🙂
Finally, let’s talk about the main page when you sign in. Used to be you’d see some names listed and that was it. Now it looks just like the Facebook page, and things move by so fast that, like Facebook, you just can’t keep up with it. And they now have sponsors; well, I guess they had to find a financial model like everyone else. On my home page right now is an ad for a phone app, recommendations of groups I should join, people I know who got endorsed the new way (there’s still the old way of endorsing people, which I highly recommend), recommendations of people I should connect with “that I know” (that I DON’T know), and lots and lots of links that go on and on.
I guess I shouldn’t complain all that much. After all, recommendations even coming from people I don’t know all that well means people are possibly thinking of me in some fashion (not actually…) right? Having the opportunity to show your expertise in a particular business by commenting in a group helps some right? Seeing all those links to website and blog posts and news posts are kind of interesting, and you can do it as well so it’s all good right?
By the way, you can also now “like” stuff; now where have I seen that before?