At Least the Business Journal Agrees With Me About LinkedIn

Much to my dismay, the Business Journal of Milwaukee ran a piece raving about the usefulness about LinkedIn, the modern day version of a chain letter. Last week I talked about how it’s nothing more than an annoying tool ultimately used by headhunters and sales people. Real connections and real value derived from the service are few and far between unless you’re a job-seeker or job-peddler.

And apparently I must have hit a sore spot with the folks who run LinkedIn, because they can’t seem to stay away from this site. They’re checking that thread multiple times a day to see if anyone’s saying anything.

So about this Business Journal article…

At least they agree with me on LinkedIn’s usefulness: It really only useful for headhunters and people selling something. They even quote a Milwaukee headhunter who says that LinkedIn has been her top source for finding candidates. In fact, almost the entire article focuses on LinkedIn being used by employer seeking candidates and employees seeking new jobs.

That’s all fine and well, but what does it mean for those of us who aren’t seeking jobs? The whole system is more bother than it’s worth. Yes, I do believe that a lot of users find some marginal usefulness to the system outside of job-hunting. But it’s frankly not worth the time.

LinkedIn reminds me of those horrible networking activities that we’ve all attended at happy hour. Not the good ones where real connections are made. But the bad ones… where those peddling their wares are seeing how many business cards they can pass out.

8 thoughts on “At Least the Business Journal Agrees With Me About LinkedIn”

  1. I think that the key to getting something out of linkedin is how you end up using the service. Since I’m not really in market for a new job, it’s had a limited appeal as a user, but I still find myself visiting the site frequently because my friends keep updating their profiles with various projects that they are working on. It’s less about networking and more about staying on top of whats going on in their professional lives. This is content, that you won’t find on blogs or other social networking sites.

    For example, when an internet video company laid off part of their work force earlier this year, I found out about it the day after it happened because I saw my friends updating their profiles as being “former” employees. This gave me an opportunity to reach out to them and help introduce them to contacts who are looking for smart people in the digital media space. I don’t know whether or not this helped, but its something that they wouldn’t have had access to if they were using a more traditional (and less public) resume.

    Another example of where I’ve found value in the site, is to use it as a way to keep tabs on competitors. Last year, I found out about a small company in “stealth mode” that was supposed to compete directly with a stock that I own. At first, I couldn’t find anything more then their application for incorporation, but by using LinkedIn, I was able to see that all of the employees that they were recruiting were coming from a single company. Sure enough, when they went out of stealth mode, I watched as they took a healthy chunk of business from the other company and left my stock alone. If their HR department had been reading LinkedIn, they could of stopped the loss of their customers before they were sabotaged by former employees. It’s important not to read too much into the tea leaves, but LinkedIn is like the job classifieds in that it’s a forward looking indicator.

    It may be fair to call them a glorified chain letter, but considering that it doesn’t cost me anything, it’s a small price to pay to have my public data out there for people to find. What I found more concerning was their refusal to delete your profile. That’s just not right, they don’t own your data, you do and if you no longer feel comfortable having it up there, then they should delete it. It’s pretty ingenious how you got them to take it off, but sad to see that you had to resort to name calling in order to get them to do it. Overall, LinkedIn does have it’s downsides, but their are also a lot of advantages in how they are trying to reshape the job market.

  2. Tracy;

    I think that you are being a little harsh on Linkedin.

    I primarily use it to figure out who knows x, if I want to cold email x about a project that may work for both of us.

    I don’t use it as a platform, however.

    Davis has a pretty interesting view about how to use it as a platform. But, I have too many other forums to use Linkedin as a platform.

    These social spaces come with +/- and balancing the tradeoffs works differently for each person.

  3. Michael – I just think that you are the exception to the rule. What you do has mutual benefit, you’re not just trying to sell something. What you are doing is what a good networker in general does. Good contacts like you were too few and far between to make it a worthwhile use of my time.


  4. Tracy;

    Marketing to me just means explaining: what you can do for you, what evidence there is that you need my services, yet also giving enough free and quality information to individuals to make difference in their decision making process.

    Most people cannot afford an attorney – and many times they should not have to use one. I try to make that work for prospective franchisees, distributors and biz op purchasers. Read, work and think and then hopefully that you won’t need my litigation services.

    But if you do need those services, then you are probably persuaded by the quality of free information that I know what I am doing.

    Filter: the adsense competitive filter. I just clicked on the ad – too dubious for words!

  5. OOOOOHHHHH.. I wasn’t even thinking about Adsense when you made the filter comment. Thank you!

    I have the same idea about marketing and free information. Many colleagues wonder why I put so much time into writing so much material for free, both here and for trade publications.

    It’s simple… I love to do it AND it is one of the best sources of new business that I’ve ever had.

  6. Tracy;

    We really need to have some way of sharing competitive ad filters, getting individuals to remain aware about the “new ads”, and whacking these idiots before they can get going too far with their adsense campaigns.

    BTW, Davis Freeberg is someone I know and respect for his posting on the kiosk industry, netflix and like subjects.

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