The problem with LinkedIn

I used to admire LinkedIn. It served a purpose, had a solid business model and meant recruiters could easily find me and contact me. LinkedIn had the amazing advantage of doing three things that could seemed contradictory at first glance but worked in its unique ecosystem:
  1. Provide me with a convenient place to host my resume
  2. Allow me to contact recruiters and peers
  3. Do so without being an addictive platform like Facebook or Twitter (my personal opinion)

Basically, the sweet thing about LinkedIn is that you could just create your profile and only log in when absolutely necessary such as when you changed jobs or earned a new qualification. LinkedIn had a definite purpose and everybody was using it the way it was meant to be utilized: as a platform to connect recruiters and prospective candidates and to allow professionals to grow their networks and showcase their skills.

Then, things changed. People started using LinkedIn as a way to get in touch with key executives to sell their products or services. Now, this is in itself not a bad thing. LinkedIn could potentially be a huge enabler in allowing organizations to connect with the suppliers and partners it needs. I cannot deny that this facet of LinkedIn is one that could potentially bring great benefits to a professional and the organization he works for.

The problem with LinkedIn lies elsewhere. People who scour LinkedIn to grab leads for their organizations do not actually bother reading user profiles.

Building businesses on LinkedIn

Around two years ago, I noticed that I was receiving a lot (and I really mean A LOT) of messages from users who wanted to call me to propose their services. Some of them would do so nicely but it was clear some individuals were just sending me a generic message requesting my availability for a call. My email was easily available on my company's website so it was extremely easy for anybody to check there and then send me an email to introduce themselves. In fact, the page is CLEARLY named "Management Team", so it is incredibly hard for someone to visit our website and not find the information.

I used to reply to them through LinkedIn, sending them my email and asking me to email me, which they invariably did. However, the number of messages just kept increasing and I had to log in everyday to reply. This was not convenient for me as I like to limit my time on social networks (although LinkedIn is geared for professionals and can be very useful, it is still in essence a social network).

My experiment

As my contact information was already on company website and most of these users wanted to send me more information about their products, I figured I could be clever by adapting my profile to these requests so users could just email me instead of first contacting me through LinkedIn. So I updated my profile overview to add a message directing such users to go a specific page on our website where they could obtain my email.

What happened?

The number of messages (and requests to connect) did slightly decrease, but this experiment proved that most people do not bother to scroll that far and read a regular person's profile properly. My guess is that they read the person's current title and make a decision as to whether they can contact that person immediately. I am still receiving many messages from users asking for me work email when my profile already clearly lists where to find that information.

This brings me to another point.

If you cannot bother to read my profile properly and do your research, you are giving me a lot of reasons to doubt your effectiveness. If you log into LinkedIn, search for my profile or organization and send me a message saying "What's your email?" when I have taken the time to list that information in my overview, what does that make you look like?


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