Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Do we need Linkedin?

I’m on Linkedin and I don’t know why. Someone suggested I join so I did. Maybe I was drunk that night. Thank God he suggested Linkedin and not meth. But for my purposes Linkedin is utterly useless.

In theory, it’s a social network disguised as a professional network. It will help you find jobs, survey applicants, and facilitate connections. And maybe it’s a godsend if you’re a lawyer or in some business-related profession. I don’t know any comedy writers who got staff work because thirty-five colleagues endorsed him as funny.

Endorsements are a key feature of the site. When I’m on Linkedin, boxes will pop up inviting me to endorse people for specific areas of expertise. Half the people I don’t even know. And they keep popping up day after day. “Please love me. Please love me.” If I see a friend pop up I will always endorse him for… whatever. It just takes one click.

In turn, people I’ve never met have endorsed me. Over a hundred people have endorsed me for Voice Over work. That’s very flattering considering I’ve never done Voice Over work. More people endorse me for that than screenwriting. Eighteen people endorse me for Adobe Audition. I don’t even know what that is. Eleven think I do a great job in Copywriting. I’ve never written one piece of copy in my life.

Only seven say I’m good in play-by-play, five praise me as a published author, and my sense of humor is endorsed by five. But forty-seven admire my video production. I don’t even know how to download a video production app.

But the best of all is that three people endorse me for Thai Massage. (Only three?)

Do employers really take this stuff seriously?

I have a friend on Linkedin, who as a goof, listed her profession as “farmer.” Sure enough, she has all these endorsements for bailing, irrigation, and cattle rustling.

Scrolling through the home page, the posts are more professional in nature than Facebook. Lots of links to articles and videos interwoven with blatant self-promotion, which is fine with me. Blatant self promotion is the only reason I’m ON social media. And Linkedin has its own version of cute cat pictures and adorable children photos. It’s called “quotes.” People share inspirational sayings like:

"You can neither win nor lose if you don't run the race." - Singer, David Bowie

“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to win is strong enough” ~Og Mandino

"Comparison is the thief of joy. " ~Theodore Roosevelt

Give me kittens hugging stuffed teddy bears.

The truth is, if Linkedin subscribers really believed any of that they’d be working instead of killing time scrolling through a social network.

But maybe that’s the saving grace of Linkedin. You can go on it at work and still feel like you’re engaging in a professional endeavor. I find the site interesting on a human behavior level. And I’m not so enamored that my massage clients complain that I’m late for appointments.

40 comments:

XantaKlaus said...

Nobody enjoys your skill in developing video games?

Scoeter Schechtman said...

"Fat, drunk and on a computer is no way to go through life, son."
But it's how the human race is doing it.

PatGLex said...

A friend conned me into joining. And its only benefit so far has been to kind of reconnect with a former coworker and friend I'd lost touch with in the past 15 years. Otherwise -- meh.

ScottyB said...

The prevailing attitude about LinkedIn is like the prevailing attitude 10-15 years ago that everyone should have their resume on Monster.com. LinkedIn is like a bunch of people at a marketing/networking conference seminar at a crappy hotel: Everyone spends their time standing around touching all the donuts in the back, not really knowing anyone, and trying not to seem out of touch or awkward. Nobody knows how to really use the damn thing, why they're even there, or why it even matters beyond "I got sent here because the boss thinks this is important somehow ... but I get a free day out of the office, so I'm kinda all good".

Bryan L said...

I'm a copywriter, and I can tell you LinkedIn has become "table stakes" for job hunting at this point. It's essentially outsourced many of the HR functions, and if I didn't have a profile, I wouldn't get many (if any) calls. HR departments don't call references any more -- they just check your LinkedIn profile to verify that you're connected to those folks (and others). So in other words, it's an online resume with visible networking. I'm not making any value judgments here, but I can tell you I won't get any interviews without an updated and active profile.

ScottyB said...

This has nothing to do with Ken's blog post today, but a Fox News headline this morning "Buffalo Bills cheerleaders sue over pay" make me like to think this would have been a fun storyline idea for the writers to play with for an episode of 'Buffalo Bill'.

Dabney Coleman woulda pulled an episode like that off in spades, jack.

ScottyB said...

@Bryan L: Ya, and once the HR people harvest your contact info off LinkedIn, it's only a matter of days (sometimes hours) before your e-mailbox gets filled with offers for 80% off Mexican Viagra. Coincidence? I think not.

ScottyB said...

The comments following one of Ken's blog posts the other day brings to be ask a Friday Question for Ken. There was a mention of mixing humor in with shows that are more drama-heavy. MASH is an obvious and oft-mentioned example. But for me, MASH would be a unique example. If you asked the viewing public, they'd say MASH was more a comedy wrapped around a dramatic theme. So, my question to Ken is: Are there any good examples you might give of *good* TV dramas that effectively pulled off using comedy to punctuate them and make them even *more* effective and endearing?

'Hill Street Blues' comes to my mind most immediately.

Tom Galloway said...

Another way it's useful is, when looking for a job,being able to check if you know anyone at that company. You can then ask aoubt the place, how they like it. etc.

Terrence Moss said...

I have found LinkedIn to be utterly useless for me.

luciuspaisley said...

It was a bastard to do, but I FINALLY got my LinkedIn account deleted - or at least to a point where it can't bother me anymore.

Mitchell McLean said...

Isn't copywriting just another term for plagiarism? :-)

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't care much for LinkedIn, but I know a couple of friends have found some work from using it. I don't really get into endorsing others and a heavy amount of networking with LinkedIn, but I figure doesn't hurt to have a more extensive version of my resume parked on-lined somewhere for people to see, if they care. -Scott

ScottyB said...

Re my earlier post about more effective and endearing and mention of 'Hill Street Blues', that could be a Friday Question for Ken, or discussion among us here:

What minor, occasional characters can you think of that gave a TV drama a comedic ingredient that added a significant something extra to the tone and texture of the show in the short time they were onscreen, that is a great testament to both good writing and the ability of an actor to pull off the scene?

For me, one great example would be the bald-headed black pickpocket on 'Hill Street Blues' (played suavely and subtly by actor/guy Nick Savage, who seems to have disappeared after the early '90s according to IMDb) who always gave Belker a hard time while being booked. Whoever wrote this exchange (not exact, but close) was TV-writer gold, but more important, so was Nick Curtis:

Belker: NAME!!!
Dude: Curtis.
Belker: CURTIS WHAT???
Dude: Curtis. Curtis Interruptus.

It's gold I tell ya, Jerry! Gold!

WizarDru said...

I think this is probably apropos, Ken.

http://www.sheldoncomics.com/archive/140310.html

Anonymous said...

Hey, you have an opinion! That's awesome.

Erika said...

I can see LinkedIn being useless for a comedy writer. LinkedIn is essential for other careers though. I do IT consulting. I know a lot of people in my profession that have gotten jobs from their LinkedIn connections. It's also a good way of keeping track of where former coworkers end up. I regularly get inquiries from headhunters looking for people with specific tech skills. So yeah, it depends on your profession.

Brian said...

ScottyB: I remember the Hill St. Blues pickpocket. He gives a seemingly legitimate name in the first episode and after that, he changes it every time. He ends up dying on the street. Before he dies, he tells Belker his real name and asks that he contact his mother.

Howard Hoffman said...

I definitely use LinkedIn strictly for business, and have used it to make connections. I make it abundantly clear that I don't accept requests from anyone other than industry people. Anyone who just wants to socialize, I send 'em to Facebook. That's where where I vent, make with the jokes, get political and stay in touch with everyone. But LinkedIn is pure biz - its greatest asset is being able to reach the decision makers when their email and snail mail info is just not available.

Anonymous said...

I know you hate anonymous posts but I can't seem to get into my google account.
Anyway, I find Linkedin to be a complete waste of time. Most of the "jobs" I get contacted for are at worst, bogus or at best, crappy. Every "legitimate" job I've applied for via Linkedin (maybe 50 total in the first 6 months I used it. Im not very active on it anymore) went nowhere. I think I got one phone interview out of the thing.
Entirely overrated website.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why I typed 50. It was more like 20 in the first six months.
I was out of work via being laid off but had over 15 years experience all with the same company. You'd think SOMEONE would've figured to give me a call.

Whew. Glad that's clarified.

Corey said...

For inspiration, I have always liked the phrase:
"A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse..." - Ken Levine

MikeBo said...

Amen to your view of LinkedIn, Ken. On the rare occasions that I run across someone I want to get in touch with, I message them with my personal email and phone number. If the connection continues that way - fine. Otherwise I think its a waste of time and space. Never use it and usually ignore "friend requests."

Brian O. said...

Ken, I just sent you a LinkedIn invitation. I really want to endorse you for Thai massage and, perhaps, your fine writing of MUST KILL TV available here:
http://www.amazon.com/Must-Kill-TV-Ken-Levine/dp/1493674978/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398273465&sr=8-1&keywords=Must+kill+tv+ken+Levine

Tim W. said...

My father had been requested by a number of people to open a LinkedIn account, and he finally did it, but we were talking about it and he can't figure out the point either. The thing about him is that he's a retired university professor. There IS no point for him to be on it. Unless it is to recommend other people, which would be nice, and all, but a major waste of time for him.

Now, I have avoided pretty much all social networking tools- I've never been on Facebook and only have a Twitter account for my business.

An influential client of mine said they would write a recommendation for me on LinkedIn, so I opened up an account and I can see HOW it would help someone like me, but it hasn't done it yet.

The one thing I like about it is that it requires no work. I don't have to check it or anything. It's just there in case I need it.

I think for certain professions, it could be a great tool, but for most people I don't see the point.

Charles H. Bryan said...

All of these websites are excellent data points for someone who wants to study trendiness in the digital age. A few years from now, everyone will have moved onto something else and will mock anyone who still goes to the current sites until they become so untrendy that they will become ironically trendy.

Cap'n Bob said...

Same story as Ken's. Joined up on a friend's recommendation and find it utterly useless. A couple of times a week I get an invitation to read someone's BSP, which I delete forthwith.

Pete Grossman said...

As a copy and video script writer, the only benefit I've found is what someone else here has mentioned - it's like a resume online and HR uses it as a professional back up to a resume. The personal recommendations help, too.

That said, I've yet to directly get a gig from it - so I chose to "upgrade" for free for one month to get my profile to the top and show how serious I am about work. Uh, that didn't cut it either. The only real benefit to me is that I get to see where former colleagues are and stay in touch with them - that sometimes gets me work.

Bryan L said...

@ScottyB: I didn't experience that, but I started my account years ago, and maybe I don't remember. I do have a number of e-mail addresses for specific purposes, and I use a different address for LinkedIn.

Mike Barer said...

It's really just a boring version of facebook.

Mike said...

Happy St George's Day, people!
You can slay dragons until midnight (local time), then it reverts to a criminal offence.

Phillip B said...

Great piece. Just to celebrate the moment of non usefulness, I've sent an invitation to link with you!

And I urge everyone to passionately pursue some interest today of absolutely no value, with any expectation of anything in return. In other words - root for the Cubs...

Dave Olden said...

Wow, Ken, before I came in here to check on the blog after a long time away, ... well, coincidence, guess what *I* just did!

Yep, I deleted my LinkedIn account.

As I went through the steps, I saw, right there on the screen, that I'd been on LinkedIn "...since 2008"

Seriously?

I don't even remember creating my account, (I'm convinced the account set itself up, then tugged my pant leg, "psst!"... in a sad claw for attention)

Whatever. My Linked-In account: gone-zo.

Johnny Walker said...

Like most people here, I can't say it's ever done a single thing for me or my career... And it sure is annoying when people I don't know very well prompt me to write recommendations for them :-/

Pat Reeder said...

I have an account there for the same reason I have a Facebook page: my wife is a singer and recording artist with zero computer skills, so I had to create her fan pages. They wouldn't let me do it unless I had my own pages. So I created them, and there they sit, gathering virtual cobwebs.

Oddly enough, I have accumulated a handful of "friends" and contacts without ever doing anything. I also have a bunch of recommendations from people who only know me through my Linked-In page I never look at or do anything with, so I don't see how they can knowingly recommend me for anything other than Lethargy, Inertia and Complete Indifference.

Mary Stella said...

I think I have a LinkedIn account but I never use it. I don't pay attention to invitations to connect on it and I don't send any either. I have no idea what being on it supposedly accomplishes or helps us accomplish, so it has no value for me.

I'm not a big tweeter on Twitter either.

Facebook is pretty much it for me in personal social media.

Breadbaker said...

Fwiw, I had coffee this morning and lunch this afternoon with two people with whom I'd lost contact some years ago and found again only because of LinkedIn. Was this earth-shattering? No. Was it nicer than not, and well-worth the nothing I've spent on LinkedIn? Yes.

Kaleberg said...

I created a Linked In account some years back called "Test Account 1". Amazingly, it has gotten recommendations and recommendation requests. I assume these are from Linked In trawling robots used by folks who sell Linked In "juice", that is, recommendations and colleagues for folks who don't have any (or deserve any).

Anonymous said...

2 years of using LinkedIn (and other mechanisms) to attempt a re-boot of my career and I've learned that despite considerable time and effort at tweaking and retweaking my profile, active participation in multiple "groups" and lots of attention paid to "experts" advising on how to improve the effectiveness of your profile - - I've come up with some hard facts that 99% of the profile views I realized were people that already knew me. The remaining 1% were almost always someone who stumbled into my profile and was not head hunting.

THe mechanism is far less effective than, for example, Craigslist and far more invasive.

Anonymous said...

As a nurse it's mostly useless to me. The only thing I like about it is if I want to transfer to a new floor I can upload essays and presentations I've done as part of my continuing education that nurse managers can see if they search for me (which cannot be included in our applications), as well as list volunteer activities, awards, etc not related to my field that I might omit in my resume. It gives them something to see if they Google me. I don't think it holds much weight in the hiring process but it might give me a one-up. The articles that show up in my feed from groups I'm in are also interesting and current. But any of these things can be achieved without LinkedIn, like by having your own website and reading articles on your own. And if I'm not looking for a change it really doesn't serve much of a purpose.

-Miriam R.