Once upon a time I loved LinkedIn.
It served a very different purpose than Facebook, one that I felt would be useful to my career when I worked at a company.
Years later I used the platform to initially launch LearnDash by sharing blog posts I would write in LinkedIn Groups. Seriously. I didn’t focus on Facebook or Twitter but stuck with just LinkedIn. The groups were actually very active and a great way to connect with other like-minded professionals. That platform alone drove tens of thousands of visitors to our site at the time and helped us build a healthy pre-launch email list.
But this was back in 2012. Today the LinkedIn environment is a lot different.
Nowadays I receive connection requests from complete strangers, and often we don’t even share the same industry in common. This seems to happen more frequently on LinkedIn than any other platform. By way of example, I probably receive one or two friend requests on Facebook from strangers each month. With LinkedIn I receive one or two per day. Just as I won’t accept a Facebook friend request from someone I don’t know, I won’t accept a random LinkedIn connection request.
About every week I go through and close out the requests from those that I do not know (most, if not all of them). During this process I have noticed that sometimes people who request a connection include a custom message… and in nearly every case it is someone requesting a phone call. These message range from investment conversations, pre-sales inquiries for our LMS, to personal support requests.
People can be quite sneaky with these requests as well!
I was going through my requests the other week and saw that someone included a message saying how much they really loved using LearnDash. I didn’t know the person, but their flattery won me over. I accepted the request and moved on with my day.
Randomly I happened to go back to LinkedIn for something the next day (Saturday) and that same individual had sent me the largest support ticket to date. Paragraph after paragraph detailing the history of their business, how they came upon LearnDash, what they are trying to accomplish, what wasn’t working, and why I needed to help “ASAP”.
It was the classic bait-and-switch, and I fell for it.
Now I naturally didn’t ignore the request. I did a little digging and saw that this particular individual already had a support ticket with us and it was actively being worked on. Still, this individual proceeded to contact multiple LearnDash team members on LinkedIn in a similar fashion, becoming furious that our support wasn’t around on the weekend (something that we are very upfront about by the way). In the end their issue was resolved.
But in my opinion that is not even the worst part about LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has a feature called “InMail”. It is part of having a paid account on LinkedIn and with it you can email anyone, even if you aren’t connected. All I can say is that this feature is literally the equivalent of a telemarketer having your phone number. A lot of unwanted marketing messages.
So I got to thinking…
All of these experiences have made me reflect on the utility of LinkedIn. What stands out to me the most is that in the past six years it has not once resulted in something productive or profitable for our business. It has just wasted my time and added some frustration in my days.
Oddly enough, I have found that Facebook has been better for my network more than anything, be it for staying in touch or talking shop (which is strange because I don’t even intend to use it for that purpose).
I can’t completely delete my LinkedIn profile because I feel there is utility in “owning my name”, but based on my experience I am not going to use it anymore. I have since added a message in all caps at the top of my profile indicating that the account is no longer actively maintained. It’s funny, even in just doing that I already feel a little “lighter”. Just one less thing to think about.
I hope that LinkedIn can turn things around one day and become more relevant and less spammy. I think there is a need for a serious, business-first social site. LinkedIn used to fill this need, but not anymore.