LinkedIn is irritating

My main complaint about LinkedIn is that it’s a cold system, no fun at all. Very much geared to the middle-management salesguy, stylistically. When I’m on the site – as I have to be every few days, to respond courteously to people I like – I feel exactly as I do when cornered with a junior sales exec at a conference. I want to get away as quickly as possible (and at least with LinkedIn I don’t have to stay put in order to get my coffee or the arugula and Parmesan salad they serve at SIIA’s January conference at Cipriani’s). Goofy as Facebook is, with “plants” and “drinks” to send and walls to write on, at least it’s kind of interesting!

Invitation sample from Linkedin

But the really annoying thing is the options LinkedIn provides, or doesn’t. People I don’t know can invite me to “join my professional network.” I have to clear those out, which isn’t a pleasure. But worst is having no way to say, “I know this person but I don’t want to be linked to them. No hard feelings, but there’s simply no point to it for me.”

What too many social networking sites ignore is hierarchy, when the business world is all about hierarchy and status. Most of the invitations I get are from people who have worked for me or would like to sell something to me. Some come from colleagues and friends, but I would stay in touch with them anyway by e-mail so LinkedIn does nothing for us (and I can’t even buy them a virtual drink). And if I want to connect with someone I have worked for or want to sell something to, I’m certainly going to do something more significant than send one of those tedious and generic invitations!

I have a very successful friend who can’t make head or tail of why anyone of any significance would sign up for one of these services; when he gets invitations to connect he simply presses ‘delete.’ I sometimes think I should do the same – except that I’m trying to figure out how to adapt these systems to something that more mirrors more closely the way we really relate to and connect with one another. I connect via LinkedIn because many of my friends are there and as research, but going there is like stopping at the gas station, not lingering at a coffee shop or over a Gibson at Pearl’s.

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4 thoughts on “LinkedIn is irritating”

  1. Hi Karen,

    I believe that the magic button that many people use for that situation (as I do), is currently labeled archive. A simple ignore. No message goes out, similar to email you choose not to respond to. Of course, because it is archived, you have the option in the future to reconsider your decision, if you’d like.

    Reading your post, I do wonder who you have invited to join you on LinkedIn? Are you filling your network with the people you personally find interesting & useful for your professional life, or are you passively responding only to the most aggressive of contacts who send you invitations?

    For me, there was a big difference in the value and usage of LinkedIn between the time when I just went on LinkedIn to accept invitations from other people, and the time when I started specifically inviting the people who I wanted to be able to easily track, communicate & share with. That was a few years ago for me, and I liked the product so much I joined the company! :)

    Take care,
    Adam

  2. Google Alerts is amazing. I can count on getting a comment on a post simply by writing about a technology company, and often within an hour. I would love to know how many companies are using this to monitor press, and how much it costs, and how effective it is.

    It’s rather nice, as a consumer, to get some kind of response. I’ve found out why something wasn’t working for me. But in this case, I have two further questions:

    1. Why no delete function? I don’t want to archive all unwanted invitations. Some I really want never to see again. Life is too short to waste time scanning junk mail, which is all they amount to.
    2. I am a passive member of Linkedin, no question, because I’ve not been able to see any reason to communicate with people through that system. I’m in contact continuallywith hundreds of people–friends, colleagues, and authors–and I don’t have time, or a need, to hang out at Linkedin. Maybe I’m missing something, but I can’t see any way it would improve my communications or enrich my contacts.

    But I’m sure it’s great for lots of people. Nice of you to write. Karen.

  3. Hi Karen,

    Google Alerts is awesome! I even blogged about it (http://tinyurl.com/3z3ddu) under 7 tools a community manager can’t live without.

    I’m the Community evangelist at LinkedIn and I thought I should recommend some best practices on using LinkedIn written by Penelope Trunk.

    http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2007/04/24/ten-ways-journalists-can-use-linkedin/

    In addition to the above, there are numerous ways you can derive value from LinkedIn. Check out our blog for user stories, feature updates, tips and tricks, etc… – http://blog.linkedin.com/

    Feel free to contact me if you’ve any questions or if you’d like a quick tutorial :)

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