I am an early adapter of LinkedIn. As I move in on almost two decades of being active on the networking and career development platform, I have noticed a change, diluted engagement and more self-promotion, thus I have begun re-evaluating my future level of participation/time commitment. My assessment?
When I first joined LinkedIn, given I was self-employed, I thought it would be a great way to expand my business network band width beyond what I had already cultivated via attending conferences, speaking engagements and volunteering in my industry’s association. Being a networking aficionado, I quickly validated my hypothesis there are two types of networkers: strip miners (takers, what’s in it for me) and farmers (givers, who nurture their relationships by sharing information). The strip miners just wanted to collect LinkedIn connections without truly understanding the individual they were connecting with. On the other hand, farmers usually participated in discussion groups to engage with other professionals with similar backgrounds.
Initially I enjoyed my engagement with other LI members via comments, but quickly learned to be more select from a time management perspective. I found engagement usually in select discussion groups was a productive way to aggregate information. In addition, another way was joining discussion groups with a news feed. Before making a connection, I scheduled introductory/exploratory phone calls which was a great way to exchange mutual interests. The net result was I connected with some excellent people and achieved my objective of expanding my business network band width.
For me in the early 2010s, LI engagement morphed. First the platform eliminated news feeds so I no longer was able to aggregate information from my discussion groups. Then LinkedIn followed Facebook and added the Like button. Hitting the Like button might be good for metrics, but to me engagement became diluted. It made it too easy for people since they no longer had to take timeout to post a written comment.
Now I am noticing another change. Posts have become more personal as in people sharing TMI (e.g., spouses battling health issues like dementia), self-promotion about switching jobs or getting promoted, attending conferences, etc., etc., etc. There has been a significant increase in job recruitment which makes sense given LinkedIn was originally launched as a professional networking platform for finding a job, developing the professional relationships needed to succeed in one’s career.
Frankly, what is now missing for me is aggregating relevant information for my business when I cruise LinkedIn and the potential for meaningful engagement with existing or potentially new connections. Candidly all the c’est moi self-promotion are broadcasts by miners. People just wanting to collect LinkedIn connections.
I agree that there is over-sharing of personal information and the addition of “likes” make it easy to for folks to click and run, but I don’t necessarily see how the potential for meaningful engagement has been lost. It might take a little more time to identify contacts with whom you wish to engage, but the potential for engagement is still there.