I need to improve my “professional” social networking. That’s what I thought about this morning after I posted a few times on a class discussion regarding the use of LinkedIn, and read about our instructor’s support of the platform. He found it was an excellent method for career advancement and now works at Gartner as a Research Director. I wasn’t overly surprised by that; LinkedIn is well known as a tool for job searching and recruitment. But, it did prompt me to think if I’m losing out on potential advancement in my future by not taking it seriously.
I do use LinkedIn. I go there every 3-4 months and endorse 20 people in skills I’m not sure they have. I also go and occasionally write an endorsement for someone I do like. I also update my skills list a couple times a year (but honestly, how often do your skills truly change? ). Other than that, I do absolutely nothing with the site.
What should I be doingon LinkedIn? Do I go on there and join groups and allocate X amount of time each week to writing posts and engaging with others? Do I reach out to people through my network so that it results in numerous phone calls and lunches with vendors and partners? That would likely be the socialite’s method and while that works brilliantly for them as a method of advancement, I’m an introvert and I’m not a huge fan of that kind of additional workload. It makes it feel like a job.
I just spent a few minutes writing on my class forums and I noticed my common theme was that I didn’t find the site useful. That’s the crux of the issue. If I don’t find it useful, I don’t have an interest in spending time there. Is the issue of use my own, or is the scope of the site too specific to a particular type of person and so I don’t engage? I spend plenty of time on Facebook (I check it 20x a day, make at least 10 posts a day, etc), so it’s not that I’m not engaged in social networking but I like looking at funny pictures and videos, not reading for hours about <insert new technology buzzword here> and then high-fiving other people in the industry for their replies.
I think the issue I have with LinkedIn comes down to a lack of value for my current state. If I was looking for a new position, I might feel the desire to spend time there networking, but since I’m comfortable I’m not driven to improve my image. Is that wrong? Probably. Proactive approaches always trump the reactive ones and its impossible to build a network of contacts overnight. But is it worth it? I have no idea and to date I haven’t seen any statistics that prove that people who are heavy LinkedIn users truly benefit from it such as in their job satisfaction and income.