Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Facebook for Business?

Can someone please explain to me what we’re all doing on LinkedIn? It has been well over a year since I have worked in an actual business office, so I’m not really sure, but is LinkedIn still viewed as the acceptable business version of Facebook? If so, I think all you business-types might be fooling yourselves.

It looks respectable enough, I guess. Everyone’s wearing a business suit in their LinkedIn profile picture. On Facebook, everyone’s wearing a bathing suit and holding a margarita, so the natural boss/minion interactions might go something like this:

“What are you doing on your computer there, Jenkins?”
“Uh… just surfing Facebook, sir.”
“You’re fired, Jenkins. Get out.”


“What are you doing on your computer there, Jenkins?”
“I’m on LinkedIn, actively networking with current and potential clients, sir.”
“Good job leveraging social media for a synergistic win-win, Jenkins. Keep up the good work!”

I think Jenkins’ boss has it exactly backward. He should be encouraging Jenkins to spend time on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, because then Jenkins won’t have any time to be on LinkedIn. Jenkins’ boss doesn’t seem to understand that LinkedIn, the “World’s Largest Professional Network” is really the world’s largest simultaneous job search. The only reason Jenkins has a LinkedIn account is so someone at a better company than the annoying one he works for now might offer him a job.

Of course, maybe Jenkins’ boss does understand, and he’s on LinkedIn for the same reason. He’s sick and tired of Jenkins and his other annoying minions, and he wants to be the boss of cooler employees at a company with a better 401k matching program, more comfortable conference room chairs, and coffee that doesn’t taste like crap. Don’t kid yourself.

But how trustworthy is LinkedIn as a staffing tool? Are the member profiles (resumes) accurate? I’m here to tell you, probably not. That’s because ever since I joined LinkedIn, people have been endorsing my skills.

Just yesterday I got an email notification congratulating me that one of my “first-degree connections” had endorsed me for one of my skills. The skill he endorsed: Engineering.

“Congratulations, Marc. Endorsements help show what you’re great at.”

Well, that may be true, or it may be a load of crap. In this case, it was a load of crap. I’m not saying I don’t have any engineering skills. I have one or two. What I’m saying is that I went to high school with this guy. I have literally not seen him since then. We have not kept in touch at all. And as far as I can remember, I was a crappy excuse for a professional engineer when I was in high school. Yet, here on this professional business networking site, he announced to the free world that I am great at engineering. How the hell would he know?

He might as well have endorsed my skills as a submarine driver, or a catapult operator. “No one hurls pots of hot flaming oil over the castle walls like Marc Schmatjen. He’s simply the best flaming oil catapult operator I’ve ever worked with. And don’t even get me started on his mad skills with a trebuchet!”

Our moms know each other, so maybe my mom was bragging to his mom over coffee about what a spectacular engineer I used to be, and how woeful she is about my new career choice as a writer, and how worried she is that her grandkids will starve. Somehow, word got back to him from his mom that I used to be a great engineer, and I’m in need of some encouragement. Who knows?

If that’s the case, then basically his endorsement amounts to, “His mom thinks he’s good at this.”

Think about that next time you’re browsing for your next sales professional.

The brain trust at LinkedIn seems to be trying to make it more of a “networking and bonding” site, so they’re adding fun stuff like links to business articles and seminars. Wow. Way to really pump up the old excitement factor there, LinkedIn.

They also gave birth to a fun way to keep us all engaged. Every month I get an email like this: “Congratulate Bob on his work anniversary! Bob has been with Ferguson’s Widget Factory twelve years this October. Say happy work anniversary!”

Why? Why would I do that to Bob? No one wants to be reminded of how long they’ve been at their dead-end job, especially not Bob, the widget factory middle manager.

Are you really trying to make it more of a social networking site, guys? Here’s a tip… No one bonds over case studies or articles on market share. And since it’s a giant job search in the first place, no one puts anything fun in their profile. Here’s an example of a LinkedIn profile description:

Results-oriented business development guru with over 25 years of experience implementing leading edge concepts and strategic sales and marketing initiatives, improving brand positioning, increasing revenue, capturing market share, expanding customer base, and thinking win-win outside the box.

No one is bonding and “networking” over that crap. It was written in hopes of getting a better job, and only it only gets read when looking for someone to fill that better job. Do you know what it should say? “I once ate seventeen hotdogs in one sitting, I think the designated hitter rule should be outlawed, and I can tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue.”

“Now, that’s a guy who would be fun at the company picnic. Hire him. We’ll teach him how to sell our widgets.”

Do you really want to network and bond with people? Go to Facebook. People bond over sports victories, pictures of food and alcohol, and videos of people getting hit in the nuts. Plain and simple. It may not be right, but that’s how it is.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go log back on to LinkedIn and update my profile. In addition to submarine driver and catapult operator, I’m going to add “Money Manager” as one of my skills. If enough people testify to how great I am at it, maybe people will start sending me their money.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2014 Marc Schmatjen

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