Do you know Jen? She’s a lovely woman. Delightful. I enjoy her very much.
Or, rather, I DID. Not anymore. Because now I know that she’s a foul temptress bent on destroying civilization as we know it.
You see, Jen thought she’d be doing me a big favor by inviting me to join LinkedIn, and she raved to me about how great it is, so I went ahead and signed up. And she was right, she WAS doing me a big favor, in much the same way those guys who tell you that you should just try it because one little bit won’t hurt you are doing THEIR friends a big favor.
I have fallen into LinkedIn, and I can’t get up.
The idea behind LinkedIn is that you’re able to build a concrete, easily accessible representation of all your social networking resources. So I add Jen as a contact, for example, and then when I’m trying to snag a contact at XYZ corporation, I happen to notice that Jen has someone from XYZ in her contacts, and then I can ask for an introduction. Or maybe I’m just sitting here at my computer in my jammies and some random person who happens to have one of my contacts as a contact is thinking of hiring a freelance writer who spends a lot of time in her pajamas and they peruse their contacts’ contacts and find me and figure I must be Good People because someone they’ve already given the seal of approval to has me listed.
Not that there’s a place in the profile to mention my pajama-wearing habits. But you get the general idea.
So I’m working on my profile. I’m adding connections. I’m searching for people I haven’t talked to in twenty years, because MAYBE THEY KNOW PEOPLE I SHOULD KNOW. Have I used LinkedIn to increase my business visibility or procure additional contracts? No. Have I used LinkedIn as a distraction from all the contracts I already have and the work that needs doing right NOW? Hell yes.
To be fair, I only just signed up yesterday, but it’s addictive. Looking for people I know. Looking at the contacts of people I already linked to (do I know any of them? what do they do? do they look interesting?). Sending emails to customer service to complain about the interface. (Sorry. You can take the writer out of human factors engineering but… oh, nevermind.)
There’s this whole system of ratings and recommendations and questions and answers and I feel compelled to figure it all out and I don’t even know why. Seriously. I mean, I have something like 35,000 people in my extended network but I think I need JUST A FEW MORE. Just in case the first thirty thousand come down with ebola, or something. I need to have spares around.
If Jen offers to send you something cool, JUST SAY NO.