UPDATE September 2013: I have just deleted my LinkedIn account. It has again become spammy. Between the emails for the “endorsements” and the lack of meaningful connections (unless you want headhunters constantly bothering you), it was time to call it quits!
UPDATE August 2011: Since writing this post in 2008, LinkedIn evolved and I signed up for an account again. I find the site more useful for connecting with other professionals, and now enjoy it much more!
A couple of years ago, I got sucked into LinkedIn, thanks to my friend Ben. It was supposed to be a way to share your professional contacts with other professionals of your choosing. You set up your profile, and you start linking to others.
They can see your list of links (unless you hide it, which totally defeats the whole purpose) and you can see theirs. Then the race is on to link to some of their contacts and begin to build your network.
Are you with me so far? Does it sound like a good idea? Yes! It does.
Until you realize that the most active people on the lists are headhunters or people who want to sell you something. Then you will be barraged with all sorts of requests to link from people who don’t really care a bit about you or your relationships. They just want a piece of the action and the internet has made it much easier for them to be obnoxious.
And this theory of mine (that LinkedIn is primarily for headhunters and sales people) is backed up by an article in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Who is quoted as being helped by LinkedIn? Someone who wanted to pitch their services to a company and needed a contact within the company, and a headhunter. Surprise, surprise.
Really, I don’t mind sharing professional contacts at all. But if you want access to my Rolodex, you’ve got to do more than become part of this chain letter. My contacts are very important to me, and I’m not just going to give out their information to anyone and everyone. I’ve got to have a reason to connect you. And the fact that you’ve got over 100 LinkedIn connections is not a good enough reason. All that tells me is that you’ve most likely been sending out a zillion “link to me” requests and some people pitied you.
Why do I call it a chain letter? Because I find little real value to LinkedIn. In the year that I was a part of it (and yes, I actively worked on growing my network and checking out the connections of others) I got absolutely nothing out of it. No connections that I needed. Didn’t end up providing any meaningful connections for others, although I did help them connect. (The connections they asked for, however, didn’t seem worthwhile.) I certainly didn’t get any new business leads from the site.
And don’t think you’re ever leaving LinkedIn. You’re not! You can’t delete your profile. So if you want to leave like I did about a year ago, you have to email them and ask them to remove you. But they don’t remove you. They just lock you out of your account and leave your profile active so that their membership numbers are inflated. (That’s FRAUD, people.)
The really cool part about having an active profile you no longer want is that you keep getting emails via LinkedIn from people who are requesting to connect or otherwise want to pillage your contact list.
I really wanted out. So I devised a plan to get LinkedIn to finally delete me. I asked them to allow me back into my account as I had a changed of heart. I changed my current job to “LinkedIn Is A Fraud”. (Or something close to that… it’s been a while.) I proceeded to describe the fraud in the section for the job description.
And in no time flat, my profile was officially deleted by LinkedIn. So don’t be sucked in by the hype and think that you need to be part of this “social networking” site that helps you get professional contacts. It’s largely a waste of time and if you’re like me, it will become more trouble than it’s worth thanks to all the useless contact requests.