LinkedIn Is Not A Video Game

LinkedIn Is Not A Video Game

Originally posted 2014-09-24 14:14:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

This blog post is a result of a conversation that I wind up having around once a month.  A conversation that completely makes me crazy, mostly because it  should never happen…but it does.  And like an idiot, I’m surprised again every time it happens.

It usually goes something like this:

Me: “Hey – I see you’ve got someone in your network…quite a few, actually…that have the skillset that I’m looking for.  Which one do you recommend I talk to/pass along to a recruiter that I know that’s looking?”

Them: “Huh?  Recommend?”

Me: [feeling sense of impending doom] “Yes, recommend.  Which one of the people in your network that meet the criteria I have should I be talking to?”

Them: “Ohhhh.  Yeah, I don’t actually know them…they’re just connections.”

Me: [aneurysm] “Dammit.  Got me again.”

Important: Only invite people you know well and who know you.

novidgameThat’s the foundation of LinkedIn.com.  It’s on the bottom of the page every time you go to add someone into your network.  It’s also the foundation of what DetroitNet hopes to improve upon, grow, and foster in the community. We may not know you when you walk in the door for the first time, but we hope to get to know you. The whole premise of what we do is getting people together for face-to-face networking opportunities, because particularly in this market and economic situation in the area, what you know is good…but who you know is better.

However, that doesn’t mean that as soon as you walk in the door that I’m going to rush off to add you into my LinkedIn network, and, to be fair, nor should you be rushing to add me into yours.

There seems to have evolved a few general and distinct types of people that use LinkedIn on a regular basis:

The Casual Users: They’re on every now and again.  Probably came on because someone told them it was a good idea to do so, but they’re not quite sure about this whole “networking” thing yet.

The Snipers: Someone looking for a specific individual or a specific skillset that they have a need for. They reserve their connection status to those that they know or with whom they at least have some sort of relationship.

The People That Think It’s Facebook/MySpace: Honestly, it’s not. If you want to use Facebook or Myspace, then do so. LinkedIn is for professional networking. I don’t care what kind of soup you’re having.  If I did, we’d be having lunch together.

The Open Networkers: The net gets cast far and wide. They’ve typically got hundreds and hundreds of connections. I have noticed that a lot of recruiters fall into this category, and I can see that for them it makes sense – they have to have that large net in order to meet current and future needs for their company to thrive.

But it’s the ones that aren’t recruiters that puzzle me – I mean, the first time I saw “LION” after someone’s name, my first thought was that it had something to do with the Detroit Lions…and my god, they’re the epitome of losers in their own professional world right now, so why would anyone want to associate themselves with them?  Then I realized that there are entire groups out there of LinkedIn Open Networkers.  LION.  Oh, I get it.

Wait…actually, no, I don’t get it.

From what I’ve been able to gather, the only purpose of these groups is to enable people to aim for some sort of mythical (and non-existent, mind you…) “high score”.  I cannot for the life of me understand why someone has thousands of people in their network – there is absolutely no way that you will ever convince me that you know thousands of people well enough to have them in your network as connections.  Is it the same rush that the crazy cat lady feels when kitty number 93 starts showing up for meals?  Is it the same feeling that my (sainted, mind you) grandmother must have had that caused her to be physically unable to part with any trinket, no matter how without value it was, just to know that she had it?

Then I started thinking back to my youth…the pre-teen years in particular, back before the discovery of girls as something other than creatures to throw mudballs at.  All of those after school moments where I’d skipped buying lunch so that I could have the extra money in my pocket when we all jumped on our bikes and engaged a mad, frenzied rush of pedaling to be the first one to the pizza joint at the bottom of the hill.  And it certainly wasn’t for the pizza which was greasy enough to trigger an acne breakout the moment you got within four feet of the front door…no, it was for those glowing screens of delight up against the wall – Frogger.  Donkey Kong.  Pac Man.  Centipede.

The video games.

Yes, for those of you in your early twenties…believe it or not, there really was a time when you had to leave your house to play video games.  Before consoles started living in every family room or basement, the arcade game sucked quarters out of an entire generation of children like a vampire in a blood bank.  These video games were the source of elation, anger, rushes of pride and moments of humiliation.  Hundreds and hundreds of quarters…all in the hope of getting to put your three initials at the top of the heap.  The smug feeling of pride as long as yours were at that #1 spot…and the crushing blow you felt when you walked in one day and some teenager had come in and slapped ASS, GOD or SEX up there when they got that one extra kill.  And so you dug into your pocket, pulled out that first quarter of the day…and the cycle began again, because having that high score was the most important thing in your world at that point.

Important: Only invite people you know well and who know you.

That’s the message that you see every time you make the attempt to add someone into your network on LinkedIn.

God help us all if they start wanting quarters.

David Phillips is the geek that’s been pushed into management roles over the span of his career. He’s been a helpdesk jockey, a team lead, a systems architect and even a Vice President over the course of his more than 20 years in information technology for a variety of industries. He’s been profiled by CNN’s Money Magazine for his work with the group, as well as being a regular speaker for the Michigan Shifting Gears program, winning 2013’s “Outstanding Contributor for the Transformation of Careers and Lives”. The views and opinions expressed here are solely in his own, and relate to IT in the D only.

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