Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why I'm Not on Linked-in (even though I am on Linked-in).

If you send me a message on Linked-in, I won't get it.

I have an account with Linked-in.  Why?  Because it is handy for tracking down people.   When a Patent issues, the maintenance fees are due at 3, 7, and 11 years.  Eleven years is a long time, and people move and don't send me their new addresses.

On more than one occasion, I have been able to find "lost" people through Linked-in.  So I have an account there.   Unlike Facebook and MySpace, I have not cancelled my account - yet.   But I do not log in there on a regular basis, I do not respond to linking requests, requests for endorsements, or whatever.  Why?

Because Linked-in is as fake as Farmville.   Sorry, but I had to say it.

In Farmville, everyone is nice to one another, and people "find" cows and fuel and stuff on their farms, which of course, never happens in real life, unless you bought these things and somehow lost them on your farm.  It is a fake, ersatz, cotton-candy world where every day is sunshine, and crops never fail.  It is idiotic and a waste of time.

Linked-in ain't much better.   On Linked-in, everyone is your associate, co-worker, or pal, and everyone is an expert in their field.   Everyone endorses everyone else's skills - even if they have little idea of what your skills are like.  And the endorsement thing is sort of a joke - friends endorse each other, with the quid pro quo being that if I endorse you, you endorse me, right?

There are folks who spend a lot of time on Linked-In.  It is sort of the Facebook for grownups or professionals.   You secretary may waste countless hours updating her Facebook page, but you, the professional, are making important connections on Linked-in!  Right?   Well, maybe not.

Like with Facebook, Linked-In takes your entire e-mail contacts list and then SPAMs all your friends with invitations to join - invitations that at first sound personal, until you get 100 of them and realize it is just a 'bot spamming people with messages.   And this is the beauty and genius of Social Networking - when you can use people's e-mail lists to send out invitations (that sound personal) you can expand your network exponentially, in a matter of a few months.

But the problem with Linked-In is that you are "linking" only to people you already know.   And while it is possible to link to others through existing links, meeting strangers on Linked-In is about as likely as meeting strangers on Facebook - the whole thing is set up in terms of existing links.   So as a means of generating new customers and business, it may not be very effective.

And if you link to other people who you hardly know - except online - is that really a real link?  Or is it like a "Facebook Friend" who you never meet, but you've seen pictures of their dog and their last vacation?  Is a virtual acquaintance a real acquaintance?  

And the problem I have is not finding new customers and business, but completing the work I already have on my desk.  This blog is time-bandit enough.  I need Linked-In like a hole in my head.

Yes, it is possible to "groom" your image on Linked-In, and you might generate some business that way.  If you answer technical "questions" you may gain a reputation on the site (and it helps to have lots of links and endorsements - it is like being popular on Facebook, or in High School).   But I for one would question the idea of choosing an Attorney, an Accountant, an Investment Adviser, and Employee, or an Employer, based on some Internet site.

But then again, I've been out of the "job market" since 1994, and don't expect to get back into it, ever again.   Once they let you out of the cage, well, it ain't easy going back.  As one of my draftsmen said to me once, "At this point in my life, being self-employed for two decades, I am virtually unemployable."   And it is true, too.  The people running cubicle-farms don't want a lone wolf stirring up the sheep.   It causes nothing but trouble.  It is a good thing I have saved up enough to retire - I have no other choice, really.

So as a personal matter, I don't need or want Linked-In in terms of getting a job or getting clients.   It just is not worth my while to spend time on there.   I tried it for a few weeks, but quickly got tired of it.   I do go on there occasionally (like once a year) and find dozens of unread messages, friend requests (or whatever they call them), requests for endorsements (or endorsements themselves) - all unanswered.  I probably pissed everybody off.  Oh, well, the perils of "Social Networking" - once you start, you can never, ever stop, without causing a lot of misunderstandings among friends (real ones, not the Facebook kind).

Speaking of jobs, the process of job-hunting today is a totally different animal back when I applied for my last "job" back in the 1990's.   Frankly, I would not even know how to go about it, today.   Typing up resumes and cover letters is probably old hat, as everything is done online now.  And perhaps if you are in the job market today, Linked-In and Monster and other sites may be of use to you.

But you know, if I was a hiring manager at a company, I would still want to see that typed cover letter and resume, mailed in to me.   Why?  Because I would want to know that the person applying for the job really wants it - and didn't just click on some link or SPAM his resume to 1,0000 companies.  When you have to go to physical effort to do something, it means you want it badly.  Just clicking on a link between downloads of Russian Porn, doesn't strike me as much of an effort in job-hunting.

This fellow, who claims to be a "career coach" suggests that all contacts should be made via Social Networking, as in "today's world" no one can think beyond 140 characters, and making a "personal contact" via Linked-in is the key to success (In the comments accompanying that article, many strenuously disagree).  However, an e-mail is hardly a personal contact, is it?

I think I would take a different approach.  Sure, use that social media thingy, but also send a resume (more than one page, please, if you have the experience!), cover letter (detailed, letting the reader know you have researched the company and know a little about their products and operation), as well as a photo.  Yea, it doesn't hurt for them to put a face with the name, right?  Send it by Priority Mail (flat, not folded) and it gets to their desk faster.  Yea, even today, people get a rush pulling that zip-tie on an "overnight" package (which Priority Mail ain't, but we won't tell them) and treat the contents differently.  Hell, throw in a DVD with a video resume.  Why not?   Show them that you want the job, and didn't just mass-mail out resumes, hoping one would "stick" somewhere.

Just some thoughts.  If you want to "stand out from the herd," as our career coach suggests, then perhaps sending an e-mail on Linked-In isn't quite enough - particularly when a hiring manager gets an inbox of 1,000 such e-mails, blasted from everyone on Linked-In or Monster.com, hoping the shotgun effect will work (which it sometimes does).

But again, since I am not in the job market - or trolling for clients, anymore - I really have little use for Linked-In, at least at the present time.

Hmmm..... as the baby-boomer generation retires, I wonder how that will affect the growth rate of Linked-In?

UPDATE:  I deleted my Linked-In account.  Like with Facebook, it pays to delete all of your CONTENT first, and then close the account.  I went on there and found that I was being endorsed by people I didn't even know, for skills I didn't even know I had.  Some of the "skills" listed were apparently taken from my resume (or whatever they call it, Profile or whatever).   Linked-In had me promoting myself as a "Litigator" which I am not.  This is not acceptable.

The other thing is that I was "linked" to a number of people I don't know at all.   I am not sure what this Linked-In website is supposed to accomplish, but it ain't doing it for me.   Like I said, I think it is little more than Facebook for grown-ups (and I use that latter term loosely!).

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