Those of us who have to work for a living and frequently change employers find ourselves dipping in to the productivity black hole that is
Creepbook for Business LinkedIn in the vague hope that some positive outcome will result from all that desperate networking.
Newflash; it never does. Buy a weekly lottery ticket instead, at least you’ll win ten bucks back once or twice a year.
If one views LinkedIn as anything more than a glorified electronic rolodex with the names and contact details of people you’ve met at work, you are setting unrealistic expectations.
That’s not to suggest that using LinkedIn to tout yourself like a truckstop hooker doesn’t pay off for some people. In fact, you can absolutely be certain that it does otherwise it would have gone the way of Pets.com long ago. Just like the infamous Nigerian “419” scam emails, despite the minuscule odds of success, the proof that the business model works is that the activity continues.
Recently I received an unsolicited connect request from someone working in an adjacent field of expertise to me. Against my better judgement, I connected and then had a follow up dialogue which resulted in the offer of a coffee meeting.
“Fine“, I thought, “not much to lose and there’s a slim chance he might be able to introduce me to my next employer“.
The gentleman was pleasant enough, clearly knowledgeable and not particularly creepy.
He told a story of a radical change in career in the last 6 months. Filling in the gaps, it looks like a redundancy cheque, a significant birthday and some professional advice had diverted him away from continuing with his current career trajectory to concentrate on becoming a recognised person of influence within his industry instead.
Quite what that meant was left somewhat opaque, but it seemed to involve being a public speaker, published author and, as I later discovered, really fucking annoying on my LinkedIn timeline.
How really fucking annoying? Regardless of the time of day, whenever I logged in to the social media website there would be some asinine comment from him on a random subject ranging from mental health to the best type of tenant to be sought for his investment property (I’m not joking).
This, it would seem, was due to advice given by a consulting firm he had paid about $15,000 to for training on how to be a recognised person of influence (not quite their wording but close enough – I’m not in the business of being sued).
A pattern was emerging with these annoying time pollutants too; he was commenting on the same half a dozen people’s content and they were doing the same back. What’s the betting they were all on the course together?
Rather than cut him off without warning, we had the following SMS exchange;
Hey, can I offer some unsolicited advice?
I think you’re being too promiscuous on LinkedIn. The video content is great but the one sentence replies to other people’s “Facebooky” posts risks diluting your brand.
I have clicked the “unfollow but remain connected” button on loads of connections due to posting volume not value.
Sorry, if that’s not welcome advice!
Thank Billy. I hear you. It’s a balancing act. To gain traction on linked in, one needs to comment and be commented on. So today, it’s part of a numbers strategy where we help each other. I don’t much like the grouping though.
A few more exchanges did nothing to dissuade him. I suspect there’s more than an element of “sunk cost bias” going on here. He’s paid his consulting fees and is desperate to see some kind of return.
I’ve seen this behaviour before.
Over the course of a couple of years in London, three separate friends and acquaintances tried to pull this water filter/supplements/storage boxes sales scam on me.
“Use your network to make money“, they would say. “I introduce you and you introduce others and they introduce their friends and we all make money“, they’d beam with a smile one normally associates with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Except they didn’t make any money. None.
The 1995 article linked above from the former newspaper, The Independent, has a line which particularly resonates;
Unemployed graduates, freelancers and management victims of “company downsizing” are particularly likely to be tapped.
The ones I batted away in 90s London and this chump have something in common; they were recently retrenched.
Back to LinkedIn…
There are two superstars of the “influencer” variety that one just can’t shake off the timeline; Brigette Hyacinth and Oleg Vishnepolsky. They operate on very similar principles of writing an utterly crap, barely believable anecdote about some counter-intuitive act of kindness or virtue-signalling they claim to have performed and then asking their network “what do you think?“. Cue a thousand sycophantic comments demurring and cheering along.
One assumes they make money from this somehow, just like the most successful Nigerian “prince” or “government” minister requesting your bank account details did.
Everyone else though, my new best friend included, gets nothing.
Well, that’s not quite true; he got unfollowed by me today.
The Alien series of movies have a fairly formulaic ending; Sigourney or some other hero kills off the beast and settles back ready for hibernation and a journey back to a safe planet, but then we realise the alien is not quite dead and the battle recommences.
Blocking Brigette and Oleg from your LinkedIn feed is quite analogous; just when you’ve clicked the three little dots and selected “unfollow but stay connected” on whichever bastard polluted your timeline this time, another one pops up.
By the way, have you heard about these great water filters that aren’t available in the shops? It’s a great business opportunity!