Does anyone understand Linked In?

Posted on July 8, 2013

John Birmingham, whom I admire and enjoy greatly as a writer, shared a piece this morning about Facebook – specifically, about how he’s breaking up with it. Because it used to be cool, and now it’s not. And because it’s stalking him. Sending message after message. And he can’t really see the point anymore.

Well, I feel the same way about Linked In.

Only I can’t really even begin to pretend my relationship with Linked In ever even got started (and, seriously, it was never cool, was it?). I signed up (why?), put up some basic work info (why?) and then promptly forgot the whole thing.

Except I can’t forget it. I can’t. Because Linked In takes up more room in my Inbox than anyone (or anything) else. People who want to connect with me. People that Linked In thinks I should connect with. Random emails about other people’s jobs. Occasional emails to let me know that someone has changed jobs. Endorsements and connections and who knows what the heck else. It’s like being at one of those awful business networking evenings where people throw business cards at you and then run off to talk to someone more interesting.

To me, Linked In is that annoying guy in the open plan office. You know. The one who constantly pops his head over the partition for an inane conversation about something you have absolutely no interest in. You want to hit him over the head, but you know that, somehow, it might be a career-limiting move. And so you don’t.

Why am I there? Why are you there?

How can I break free?


  1. Katrina

    I do understand LinkedIn and think it is useful for corporate networking. But it is not suitable for all people in all jobs. There are a couple of rules to success though. The first one is setting up your settings so that you only receive the updates you want to receive. Knowing what you are going to use it for and understanding that it something that will be useful for some of the time, not all of the time. The other rule should be to only “connect” with someone that you have actually met and worked with. Having lots of connections is not the aim.
    Essentially it’s an online resume and gateway to corporate networking.

  2. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen

    Just one more thing for me to not understand 🙂

  3. Naturally Carol

    I keep being invited in but keep resisting..’cos I really didn’t understand what it was about..now I think i’ll just keep resisting!

  4. Renee at Mummy, Wife, Me

    I created a profile recently when I thought I had to look for another job. By all accounts, recruiters and head hunters use it to scout new talent. If you’re not in the market for a new job then, I can’t really see how useful it would be to you??

  5. Zanni Louise

    I am, but I don’t really use it. Some people read my blog posts through it, so I keep it up. I have so much in by inbox to ignore, so LinkedIn is just another. I think it’s good for recruiting…I know someone who was headhunted to be a CEO of an emerging brand in Indonesia through LinkedIn…So good things might come!

  6. Josefa Pete

    Not for me! I can barely juggle FB, twitter and pinterest ~ LinkedIn would tip the scales completely!

  7. Anonymous

    I don’t get it either – I’ve joined, sort of – I’ve just accepted other people’s requests because I’ve been told ‘its important for my career’ but I haven’t worked out how to use it properly (other than to find out that if I don’t include enough job details, I’ll be flooded with jobs offers that have nothing to do with what I do). But I don’t understand a lot of things – such as how to keep up with the different log in systems (blogger? -don’t have an account) – so I am anonymous by default (or Helen K otherwise)

  8. Jodi Gibson

    I’ve been on linked in for about five years. I initially joined for my virtual assistance business and studied it well. Back then I think it was a fantastic place for a professional profile but it has lost it’s way trying to keep up with social media trends. It should have remained a virtual resume for professionals to meet, connect and interact. The thing that annoys me the most is the recommendation system that it bullocks. I’ve had so many people recommend me that I have never done any work for/with! I should break up, but you know…. breaking up is hard to do.

  9. Maxabella

    For five long years, I thought you were my man. But I found out, I’m just a linked in your chain.

    That’s all I got.


  10. stonefruit season

    I’m not on Linked In and have no intention of joining! My Facebook account is under my own name and I don’t think I’ll link an account to my blog, I’m just happy keeping the two separate for now. I am happy doodling away on my blog and who knows what will come in the future?!

  11. Sam Stone

    I am on Linked In but have no idea. I want to know why people who don’t really know my work are endorsing me?

  12. Carolyn

    I’m using a kind of social media triage … my tweets go out into the world for anyone to read, so they tend to be either quips or links to cool media that I love and want to share.

    FB is for my inner circle – people I actually know (or know of through a mutual friend, and would love to meet one day). My FB acid test is ‘would talk to face-to-face with this person at a cocktail party?’. I post more personal material there…things I’m up to, personal pics, stories about my kids etc.

    LinkedIn is more of a professional space for me, although I haven’t done much with it. I’ve written my profile as a shiny, happy CV sort of thing. I know that people in my industry (writing/editing/publishing) have viewed it, so I figure it’s better to do it than not – but apart from that, I have the feeling that I should ‘do’ LI better. I just don’t know that I want to spend more time being social online instead of doing, you know, actual paid freelance work!

  13. Jennifer Smart

    I’m not on Linkedin, a child psychologist my daughter saw once has invited me to follow her her at least 4 times! I don’t really get it, but my husband = Mr Corporate, loves it. I can’t imagine it will be that useful for me. But if it doesn’t have the middle-aged tummy fat ads on it I could be tempted.

  14. Valerie Khoo

    I never got Facebook or Twitter when they first started. Then look what happened! I think Linkedin is sleeping giant. And it will wake up one day. In the meantime, just turn off your notifications!

  15. Rae Hilhorst

    I am on linked In for work. Promptly forgot my pass word, can’t be bothered updating it. Yes you are bombarded with rubbish, comments, etc. people seeking answers that you don’t have time to give them. I can’t give up Face Book as it connects me with friends and family overseas, I find it a great way to catch up with what is going in their world and for sharing photos. Linked In I call it Face Book for W…..s. Because someone is always trying to sell me something. xxx Rae

  16. Seana- Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel

    I’m also not that happy with Facebook – it just feels too cluttered and life is cluttered enough. I think I liked it better when I was only connected to a few old pals from the UK. My TV pals from long ago were the best as they’re such showbiz showoffs and very funny. Now… it’s too much. I don’t know why I am on Linked In and do nothing there but click the odd request. Must have turned off the emails though as I don’t get many.

    Linked In did help me find the final ex-boyfriend though when I was going through a e-stalking phase, so it’s not all bad.

    • allison tait

      LOL! Well, stalking is very important…

  17. Kim Frost

    I, like you, think John Birmingham KNOWS STUFF. So I read his article with interest. I also admire him greatly as a writer. But Facebook for me still has a purpose. I can connect with friends of mine who’ve moved to other countries, but whom I still count as close friends. As for LinkedIn – as much as it annoys me with its ‘You may be interested in following the opinions of these thought leaders’ (err… thanks, I’ll PASS and use my own thoughts on ‘following’ and save it for twitter), it’s been a valuable tool for me in gathering freelance work.

    I’ve been contacted for interviews on the basis of my profile. If I wasn’t likely to use it professionally though, I’d DELETE. There’s enough spam in my inbox already!

    • allison tait

      Interesting to hear on all counts Kim.

  18. ClaireyHewitt

    I am on Linked In and I have a full understanding of all it’s little uses. I have even managed Linked In groups etc and set them up for people. BUT. I personally have no use of LI. I have the emails sent to my spam folder but the ones telling me I have been endorsed for things…by people I don’t know…keep arriving in my inbox. I do understand the point of Linked In, but the truth is, when I am looking for another job, if the people are not on twitter than I am unlikely to want to work for them, or they are unlikely to want me.

    Last year I deleted any reference of me on Klout…and guess what, nothing bad happened!

    As for Facebook, apparently my Dad liked a photo this morning…this is very odd, as he is dead.

    • allison tait

      You are very clever with all your LI knowledge. Maybe you can write a post about who it’s useful for!

  19. Emily

    I’m there, and have a had a few job interview requests out of it. It’s not particularly useful for me at this stage of my life, but when (if) I’m ready to re-enter the corporate world, I can see that it will be.

    Got to get me a nice looking headshot before then, though.

    • allison tait

      Your headshot is just fine. Let us know how you get on!

  20. Bronnie Marquardt

    I’m with you too. It stresses me out! So many invitations, and I don’t know whether to accept or not. So far I haven’t gotten a single job – casual, part-time, one-off or otherwise – out of it. But I hang on to it because I keep hearing that it’s a fab way to network and you must be in it. What to do? It’s doing my head in!

    • allison tait

      I think everyone feels the same!

  21. Kerrie Paterson

    I joined it as my real self, not my writing one, to reconnect with a couple of people I used to work with. I can understand it from a business POV – all that networking to get jobs etc – but I don’t actually use it. And I really don’t understand it from an author’s POV.

    • allison tait

      It’s definitely a ‘real self’ kind of place!

  22. Sharpest Pencil

    I was so hoping I would read this post and go “Oh THAT’S why I am on LinkedIn”. But no, I’m with you. I am there, I have hundreds of connections who I don’t know and I am often endorsed for skills I don’t have. And still I stay blissfully unaware as to why

    • allison tait

      We can be blissfully unaware together!

  23. rhonda

    I am on linked in, but I do not understand it either.

    • allison tait

      It seems we are in the majority!

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