LinkedIn, the professional social network, has a wonderful, succinct purpose; to provide a space where working people can showcase themselves in a way where otherwise a resume was not enough. Great, right? A place where you can connect with potential employers so that they can know everything about you before they even meet you (and away from potentially embarrassing posts on your Facebook page). What happens though when the casual, social networking norms of Facebook begin to bleed into the professional world? Then you’ve got a problem.
After being introduced to LinkedIn a couple years ago by a friend who probably says the word “networking” about 20 times in a conversation, I was instantly turned off. Not because of the site itself but because of how people were using LinkedIn. There were so many instances of connections for the sake of connecting that the whole premise started to lose value. It was like experiencing Facebook back in high school when classmates”friended” anyone they ever met so that they could hold up their profile of 1000+ friends like some kind of creepy social achievement.
As strange as this thought process is to me, what’s even worse is when the unfiltered connecting of your personal life into your professional life means that old men are “networking” with young women under false pretenses. An Atlantic article by Sophie Gilbert titled “LinkedIn Is Not a Dating Site” highlights this exact problem.
Proudman tweeted a LinkedIn message sent to her by a much-older partner at a law firm complimenting her on her”stunning picture!!!,” two things became clear. The first is that senior partners in law firms overuse exclamation points just as much as Millennial women purportedly do. The second is that some men are apparently hoping LinkedIn is the new Ashley Madison.
Proudman’s tweet prompted other women to reveal some of the messages they’d been sent by older men on the site under the guide of “networking.”
This rat-race mentality, collecting as many “connections” as possible while diving headfirst into a pool full of cliches like “goal-oriented” and “global innovator” and regurgitating those into your profile, is both painful and depressing. My hope is that while I create my LinkedIn page I can remember what I wrote down and then furiously highlighted in my notebook,
DON’T BE A TOOL
This will become my mantra whenever I feel the pull to fill in blank space with “synergy” or “team player”. Although, it won’t all be so bad because while my initial reaction to LinkedIn was full of doubts and I still have concerns over the possibility of not creating a profile fit for a hedge-fund wannabe, I’m eager to provide myself with a space to showcase what I have to offer employers. So as much as I prefer the old methods of communication and “networking”, LinkedIn has the potential to offer a unique and valuable medium for presenting myself in a way that a paper resume can’t; provided I don’t forget my most important rule…
DON’T BE A TOOL
Photo Credit: Revolution Productions