LinkedIn is getting on my nerves. Sometimes I feel a bit schizophrenic about it all.
You see, in the beginning, I kind of liked them for their sense of purpose, their niche, their focus.
They weren’t for everybody to find everything. It was for professionals (mainly business/office types) looking for other professionals. Period. Simple.
But then things started feeling bad for me.
You can’t totally blame LI. We humans have a certain way about us.
We have weird needs; cognitive & psychological needs, if you will. One of those, of course, is the need to be liked. To be popular. To be cool.
This need has a bad way of making networks smarmy.
Pretty soon, the networks erode our trust in it and its purpose, and some start jumping ship.
I’m starting to look for the lifeboats.
This love-hate relationship has really intensified as I started using the network more over the past three to four years and I discovered why my L/H relationship is so intense:
1. LOVE: I like the focus and purpose of LI. For business professionals to connect, share introductions, help people move along, even accelerate, in their careers and professional development.
2. HATE: User experience. On mobile, on desktop. Just not intuitive in spots you’d think a company the size of LI would be able to produce on. (Why can’t I remove a connection when I’m looking at it on my iphone?)
3. LOVE: Ability the platform gives those of us who have some real specific reasons to talk with incredibly accomplished and awesome executives the slim chance to get connected.
4. HATE: The growing number of members (including senior LI employees) who connect to others willy-nilly and when the time comes to connect others to their network, their replies are: “Sorry, I met them once at a Conference two years ago and I really don’t know them” or my favorite “I don’t know Suzie”. (gotta give it to him for his honesty)
What happens in the digital world of socializing and networking, we know, is downright nuts compared to what we’d do in real situations. In the world of events, conferences, meet ups, sales dinners, etc, just tossing someone you don’t know your business card, walking away, and expecting to be “connected” afterwards, is a bit ridiculous.
But in the LI world, accepting a request from someone you don’t really know, probably won’t stay in touch with, or don’t care to, happens all the time.
Even as LI has given us all a means to ignore the request entirely.
[Don’t get me started on people who send requests without even a charming “Hello, great to see you here old friend!”, or a couple of sentences about why I should consider being connected to you]
The latest string of #4’s have gotten me particularly snarled, but in a good-fired-up-want-to-build-something-better kind of way.
As I continue to build my startup, a curated connection service built on trust and personalization, I’m reminded of the supreme power of the under-served and the open holes of opportunity these tiny pet-peeves present for the entrepreneur. For it was only one very specific thing that differentiated Southwest Airlines, Virgin, Dyson, and so many others from their competition. And they each continue to leverage their respective competitive advantages all the way to the bank.
Yes, there are lots of other reasons besides popularity to keep connecting with people you barely know. But I wonder, when – or how – will we be able to control for these so our online networks don’t lose their value for the purposes in which they were created?