The best connected people don’t need LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a lagging indicator of real connectivity—if it’s an indicator. Warm-blooded action-generative connections humanly come first. And the most humanly connected people have less time, incentive and pretense to shepherd real connections on a virtual platform. They particularly don’t need assurance: If you have the relationship you may not need the link.
It means something that many highly successful business people I know have minimalist, outdated, and abandoned LinkedIn profiles—some bordering on piteous—and were never active users. Some literally seem to have set up the account and never returned. Profiles systematically lack their biggest accomplishments, board appointments, launches, exits, and multiple roles and titles they have held; and the people they built companies with, were voted to boards by, and team with to procure their main deal flow are nowhere in their connections.
A sibling to whom I’m not connected and whose business success exactly facilitated her entertainment of a dozen people on excursion to another country at her expense this spring, forgot she had a LinkedIn account, my review of which (LinkedIn suggested maybe we should connect) prompted the observation that it was at least 4 positions and 1 M&A out of date. This drew the highly contemplative reply “Oh, I don’t know—probably is”, in revelation of an attendant serious attention to all things LinkedIn for the span of a full microsecond. In double underscore of point 1, most of the dozen globe trotters (all women) aren’t LinkedIn connections and don’t actively use it either. Knowing them as I do, the majority are highly socially and professionally connected, however.
That my sibling or her professionalism afforded these connections isn’t noteworthy. That she’s one for whom both connecting and professionalism are ultra high priorities—while LinkedIn resides terribly outside her consciousness all the while—is.
(I have wondered if women, who can be highly relational, find less utility in platforms like LinkedIn to make important connections.)
The worst connected people can’t use LinkedIn
Anymore than a shy soul is cured by a dating site. Social media can’t stand in for warm-blooded powerful relationships. There’s no proxy for earned intimacy. And that’s the glue that keeps people close and gives rise to stakes in their affairs.
One size fits all
LinkedIn rewards convention. You succeed by being average and showing up in a search. If you off-ramp for any reason as do many women, caregivers, disproportionate minorities, 2nd acts, and career changers—or frankly somebody who decided to ski continuously for 6 months in 2009, or explore textiles in Turkey for 3 in 2007, LinkedIn doesn’t mediate your journey. It raises more questions than it answers, obscures your story more than reveals it, and won’t present differentiating nuance even as well as a conventional paper resume or coffee. It means you lack incentive to use it: It can’t tell your story.
On the other hand if you never leave the track but switch lanes or change industries—fearlessness and versatility evidence—looking nonthematic is penalized. If LinkedIn was music it would be a classical genre. But the professional world is— like life itself—jazz: Rough, beautiful, improvisational and jagged. LinkedIn penalizes unconventional careerists with scrappy creative periods of non-compensated work, parenting, or anything other than recognizably linear and continuous treks along regular courses. The penalty manifests as a discount of your real narrative which can be both irregular and compelling–if it gets a real hearing.
LinkedIn is safe. It’s stainless steel. It’s sure to disturb nothing and offend nobody and too little gets revealed or passed on, but your name, a nice conference, your company’s business and a terribly safe post you referenced on a noncontroversial topic like the downside of show-rooming.
LinkedIn is a 2nd rate resume dump, of which there’s no shortage. Maybe it’s good for recruiters—which would work if most LinkedIn users were recruiters. And “2nd rate” is right, as any viable job seeker doing thoughtful targeted hunting is doing so with hot, strategic, personal introductions, and a current tailored narrative vs. the generic profiles on LinkedIn.
Talent today is a commodity. I don’t need another platform to list commodities. I need a route to something special. In the algorithmic be-average space that is LinkedIn, it’s not in the offer. Indeed, it’s not even the point.
Many came to LinkedIn because they were pulled. A warm-blooded relation invited them. Others insured against the party train leaving the station without their own seat to glory. Still others joined to check a box somewhere.
There’s a sea of abandoned social media accounts. However, abandoned LinkedIn accounts appear the most ironic: A bunch are of the most professionally connected.
“My professional experiences…If you read who I was in LinkedIn and you never met me, never saw my photo, never shook my hand, never got a fist pump, never had me poke you in the side…never saw my smile… it [LinkedIn] defines me in a certain way—it’s a part of me…[but it’s not who I am].”
“Google algorithms should not define me. That should not be the starting point for somebody to get to know you… I don’t buy that. I don’t want that.”
At best LinkedIn is a green rolodex. The funnest parts are where you actually connect with others: Discussions and active groups, however rarely, that manage to go real. It’s where people slip up and say what they really think or feel. And that’s what can make you care about their profile, not the other way around. Outside those moments and human revelations, I precisely don’t feel “linked” to a thing.