Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Linked-In, Looked-Around, Logged-Off

Several years ago, I joined the online service Linked-In. Everyone else was doing it, so I figured why not jump off the same bridge?

For those of you not familiar with Linked-In, it's basically a semi-functional, constantly changing, over-promised/under-delivered social network for business people. Think Facebook, only without videos of dancing babies and talking dogs, and absolutely no Candy Crush Saga. Linked-In enables you to keep up with all the people you worked with years ago, all the people you work with today, and all the people you wish you had worked with over the course of your career instead of all those other people you're linked to.

Not only are everyone's business accomplishments listed out for you to see when you feel so inclined, Linked-In is kind enough to send you emails -- sometimes five a day -- letting you know that Sally Whatshername got another promotion and Willy Givakrap now has three professional certification acronyms after his name.

There are passive sales pitches of all kinds from every self-employed (read "unemployed" or "unemployable") would-be consultant with a laptop and a copy of "Business Plans for Dummies" at his breakfast table. There are total strangers requesting linkage to you for no other reason than to make themselves appear more important than they really are. There are associations and groups that will want to count you on their rolls without offering you much in return except off-topic discussion forums moderated by the Linked-In equivalent of a crazy cat lady. There are people with one-thousand, one-hundred and seventeen "connections" who post comments every three hours and others with seven "connections" who started filling out their profiles in 2007 and never managed to get back around to completing them.

But it isn't simply a one-way street. There's more to it than posting your resume and spouting your accomplishments. Thanks to the recommendations feature, you can help others spout about their accomplishments.

Presently, I have three recommendations on my profile, only one of which I didn't have to beg for. I would have more recommendations, but I'm not really one for reference-swapping with people I don't really know. Not that I mind someone lying to give me a leg up, just so long as they don't expect me to lie about them. I do have a phony baloney reputation to protect, after all.

The latest viral enhancement to Linked-In is the Endorsement feature. It's perfect for people who want to say something nice about someone else, but don't want to take the time to put that sentiment into words. Kind of like buying a Hallmark card, only with a click of a button you can verify that one of your "connections" is an expert in some random field of knowledge.

I have been receiving a substantial number of endorsements lately. There are endorsements for my sales acumen, my crazy-mad revenue management skills, my in-depth knowledge of hotels, my vast motel sales experience, and many more. Some of these endorsements came from people who might even know what they're talking about!

Just today, a person with whom I haven't worked for years endorsed me for a skill she could not possibly know I have in a field of expertise that has nothing to do with any position I've ever held at any job I've ever worked. Mixed emotions flooded over me when my third Linked-In email of the day announced her vouching for my noteworthy, and previously imperceptible, abilities. I thought long and hard over whether or not I should I accept the endorsement.

Oh, what the heck. Like anyone will ever try to verify my hang-gliding skills...



© 2013 Mark Feggeler

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