Ah LinkedIn. To some a valuable way of amplifying word of mouth and a proven way of getting new business, to others 'that annoying spammy thing in my inbox' or 'that place you go to when you are looking for a new job'.
On the whole I'm a fan, but frankly there are a few things that I could do without. And mostly I blame the users.
1. Discussions that aren't discussions
You know them. A contentious headline inviting discussion. Only when you add a comment you feel adds value and helps further the debate you realise that the person who started the discussion has gone and was never that interested in the topic in the first place. Cue frustration and a note to self about not getting 'sucked in again'.
Once, someone I had met briefly a year before endorsed me for my design skills, this was quite early on in the days of the current incarnation of the LinkedIn Endorsements feature. How kind I thought, and nice to be appreciated. I composed a short reply: 'Thanks for the recommendation, how are things, anything we can help with?' needless to say I received nothing back. It also quickly dawned on me that this person could not really know that I am a design legend whose light has been hid under a bushel far too long. So I think I know what happens here. Those that 'dip in' to LinkedIn on a rare occasions (let's face it that's the majority of people) simply get bewildered by being asked to do stuff, so say 'Yes' to everything the (somewhat confusing) user interface throws at them. Or perhaps by recommending you they feel they might get something in return. I put a fair bit of effort into my presence on LinkedIn and not just anybody is going to get an endorsement OK? (That said we are ace at ALL the stuff we do so please feel free to endorse me immediately ;-)
3. The value in Groups
I've joined a lot of groups and I've got involved in a lot of discussions (see above) and these communities never quite match up to my expectations. There definitely seems to be less spam now and that's down to better policing and moderation, but I'm often left baffled by the kind of questions raised in groups. 'Are business goals more important than personal goals?' 'How do I politely get out of business conversations?' 'Do bears really defecate in the woods?'. OK, I made the last one up. I think.
4. Inspirational quotes
Is it just me? I'm as much a fan of inspirational quotes as the next person, but surely those deep and meaningful utterances emblazoned across an enigmatic image in white sans serif are better suited to Pinterest?
5.Those puzzle things
These are annoying - and proliferating alarmingly. To me they're like benign chain emails masquerading as 'a bit of fun'. You know the sort of thing 'If you don't know the answer to this one you are as thick as week-old custard'? Amazing to see these are the topics that have 12,000 comments. Human nature eh? Well, I guess nobody likes to think of themselves as 'a bit of a thicko'.
6. Selling Stop selling.
I mean, seriously just stop. If you don't get this one by now I can't really help you.
7. 'Does anybody know anyone cheap and quick...?'
I pulled someone up recently for starting a group discussion asking if there was anyone who could offer a particular service, describing his needs thus: '...really quick turnaround and (obviously!) inexpensive'. No mention of quality. So quick and dirty and it doesn't matter if the end result is shit right? Cue a pile of super cheap 'any work is work' developers shouting at him and throwing their hats (and mobile numbers) into the ring. I offered up some advice, 'shame you aren't bothered about the quality of the work - good luck because you'll get what you pay for'. Need less to say I didn't get an answer.
This is my light-hearted attempt to cover a few of the things that frustrate me about the LinkedIn experience, abad as I said at the top, mostly it's about what people are doing. The reason I am active on LinkedIn are the same reasons why I would go to a seminar, networking event or conference: to learn something, meet new and like-minded people, share and exchange ideas, find opportunities, indulge in good conversations about things directly or indirectly related to business. Thankfully there are plenty of people using LinkedIn in that way too.