Trying to define the purpose of LinkedIn is like asking several people to define an elephant while blind folded. Once blindfolded each is given a different part of the elephant’s anatomy to touch; one the trunk, another holds the tail, a third the ear and another feels the center of its torso. You can imagine how disparate the descriptions of the animal are once the blindfolds are removed and each is asked to describe what they think the animal looks like. The gap has to be as wide as the difference between cow chips and ice cream. The fact of the matter is that LinkedIn is Sybil, with her multiple personality disorder gone big time.
I don’t even think LinkedIn currently knows its purpose, let alone many of its members, nor do they even have a hand on their data. In fact, prior to going public in a statement made to the SEC, LinkedIn stated; “We have a limited operating history in a new and unproven market that may not develop as expected, if at all. This limited operating history makes it difficult to effectively assess or forecast our future prospects.” This can explain how little of a handle LinkedIn has on their own business, let alone being able to define its business model, assess their data or successfully deal with issues such as spam which I previously wrote about in my blog entitled “Where Did My LinkedIn Post Go And Why Is This Happening?”
So what is LinkedIn anyway? The answer seems to lie in the eyes of the beholder as apparently LinkedIn has not done a great job of making members aware of its mission. In its SEC filing in order to go public, LinkedIn defines itself in this fashion: “Our comprehensive platform provides members with solutions, including applications and tools, to search, connect and communicate with business contacts, learn about attractive career opportunities, join industry groups, research organizations and share information.” Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO defines in his mission statement in an interview with Business Insider on 9/7/12 as “To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.” He gets a chance to touch 175 million members and change their career trajectory. “We want to create economic opportunities.”
Now it would seem to me that LinkedIn was created as a platform for networking about business. We have been invited here to sell something and even those with creative aspirations who may only want to speak on or hear from fellow members who can zone in on their “art” or “craft”. In the final analysis, what some may fail to see is that by bettering their creativity they inevitable make it more sellable.
To cite a case in point of how members may view their and your membership on LinkedIn with the narrowest of views, my blog as above mentioned, “Where Did My LinkedIn Post Go And Why Is This Happening?” was so successful, driving thousands of people to my website to read it and making page one for several keyword variables in Google Search. It further created as many as 120 or so comments in one group and a multitude of them in others as well as being the most successful blog to date I have ever written as judged by the amount of readers. With all of its success it drew this comment from a member: “It was so poorly written that not only could I not finish reading it, but reading as far as I did made me want to put my eyes out with my editing pencil.” While I enjoy writing, it is not what I do for a living and I have never put myself out there as such. However I do profess to be expert on most of the content that I write about and reasonably versed on the few that I am not. My purpose for writing is to share helpful information, portray my expertise and hope that those who read may contact me to do business with me for that reason. The point of my referring to the pencil, pun intended, was that in the eyes of this pencil wielding member I was there to present my expertise in grammar and the English language irrespective of my chosen topic. Well I guess she gave me an F. She obviously could not see the trees for the forest, as her agenda was rather narrow.
As Rodney King so aptly stated following his “pencil in the eye” by the LAPD; “Why can’t we all just get along”? It seems to me every moderator and every member has their own unique take on the purpose of LinkedIn and unfortunately it is exclusive only to them. One of the biggest problems in the LinkedIn business model is the “inappropriate” button below the posts or comments vs. the overworked moderator. I just took over two groups as moderator: Corporate Print Buyers Association, and Writers and Authors Circle. What I found when I took over the moderation of them was that there were requests to join one of them going back one year and not responded two and in both cases close to two thousand posts of various kinds that were not “cleared for landing” and just sat there as “pending” awaiting moderation. Thus I know how hard it can be for moderators.
Part of this overworked syndrome is caused first and foremost by members who too freely use the “inappropriate” button as if they were judge and jury for what someone else writes. It is fine to do so for “by cheap handbags” and a link to China or other such nonsense that bears no semblance to relatedness to the group or when that back link is dropped as a comment to a post. THAT FOLKS IS SPAM, but when someone else writes something that you may not be interested in or looking for, why use that button, as it is like driving with your foot on the brake and you are unnecessarily overworking the moderator. We may not all share the same agenda but I would like to feel that on many occasions we can benefit and learn from each other despite disparate agendas. If you do not think a post is “relevant” to you simply don’t read it, but don’t hit the “panic button” or take out your anger with a pencil, let alone your eye. J
Let this be your guide when you find yourself hanging on to the elephants tail: Put down your pencils and heed the words of the “King of LinkedIn”, Jeff Weiner and remember his wisdom of “fair play” when he stated; “We want to create economic opportunities” as the lion’s share of us are here for that.
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