Why are you on LinkedIn?

Recently I was running a virtual training session. As it drew to a close, one of the participants asked if she could connect with me on LinkedIn.

My answer was, “no, I’m not on LinkedIn because I hate it. It’s horrible.”

A few people laughed. I like to think they laughed because they recognised the truth in my words. There are many good reasons to hate LinkedIn:

  • It provides novel methods of harassment. LinkedIn notifies you whenever someone views your profile. When an unknown man started viewing my profile every single day, it was unsettling. I blocked him, but if anyone’s going to obsessively view my online presence I’d rather not know about it.
  • It’s a morass of productivity porn, much of it laughable.
  • It’s essentially a timewasting device like Facebook that looks okay if your boss happens to glimpse your monitor.
  • Like every other social media platform, it aims to privatise your relationships, your content and your creativity, but unlike other platforms you get very, very little of value in return.

I hope that my blunt response also helped to challenge the norm that you need to be on LinkedIn to have a credible professional life. You don’t. You might need to ensure you have an online presence elsewhere – such as your own website, or other social media, if that’s your thing – but pretty much everything you can find on LinkedIn can be found somewhere else. Job postings, contact details of key executives, interesting articles. My freelance career is going perfectly well without any help from LinkedIn.

Moreover, as a trusts/major gifts fundraiser I never had any useful connections that could further my work or my career, other than recruitment consultants. And I had other ways to contact recruitment consultants. I never added donors or contacts at charitable trusts; it wouldn’t have felt appropriate, as those relationships belonged to my employer, not to me. There would have been literally nothing I could have gained from a connection, other than making things slightly more awkward than before.

I completely appreciate that not everyone is prepared to go social media cold turkey like me. But I hope I can make you think again about LinkedIn.

Go on: name one thing that LinkedIn gives you that you couldn’t get somewhere else.

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