Saturday, October 17, 2009

No networking please; we're LinkedIn

LinkedIn was not the first social networking site I tried. I got my start with Netflix, then expanded into GoodReads, taking advantage of "sharing" tools so that my friends and I could recommend movies and books to each other. Facebook was a long time coming. In between, I experimented with LinkedIn for professional networking, to see if I could develop a certain type of professional persona.

"Our mission is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. "

I have a number of jobs, have had a number of careers, have an educational background with little direct relationship to anything else on my resume.  I saw LinkedIn as a way to focus on one professional area I wished to develop, and which was in serious need of a network.  I also believed that if I presented a public profile that said I was a certain kind of journeyman, I could start to believe I was.

I wanted a network that was unrelated to my Millwork, which was for a giant multi-national with thousands of employees and alumni-employees that would take over my page if I let it.  I wanted this network to be devoted to my other work.

I record audio books, magazine articles, and generally describe things to people who can not see them.  That's a job, you say?  Yes it is.  As the t-shirts say, "there are just some things a guide dog can't do."  I managed to manipulate the resume fields to reflect my descriptive audio experiences, and the education fields to allow me to identify as "classmates" students I had known in my years as a student affairs officer.  Two organizations I work for -- Radio Reading Service and Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic -- are national, so listing them as employers allowed me to find "colleagues" at affiliate studios.

"LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals."

I began to selectively network immediate friends and associates in the biz.  My news feeds focused on the disabilities access field and group updates came from the alumni groups of the colleges I had listed.  And they told two friends....and so on.

Formal networking is not something I do well.  I am the James Garner character in The Great Escape -- I know what's what and how to get it, but I am not very good at reaching out for the potential contact who can take me to the "next level" and that sort of thing.  Watching the network grow was satisying (List + Venn Diagram) and identifying how many degrees I was away from someone in the know became an interesting game.

I began to branch out.

[member testimonial] "...“I realized … the place to go to begin that search was going to be my LinkedIn network,” [Employer] told us. “If anyone can lead me to the kind of person with the kinds of capabilities I was looking for, it’s this set of people.” [Employer] posted the job on LinkedIn and began filtering candidates."

LinkedIn will let you know there are new members you have something in common with. 

New members of social networks like to build their contacts, and since they were offered, this seems like a good place to start.  I would open with a note like this: "Welcome to Linked In.  I am an X-yr volunteer living in New England, looking to network with people who do similar work.  Please reply if you would like to link networks."

Because they are offered to me as colleagues (we have the same workplace in our profiles), I do not need to know their email addresses to contact them this way.  As recipients, they may "Accept," "Ignore," or choose "I don't know this person."   Many do not accept, but others have, which has given my network some national breadth.

Here,  600 words later, I will get to my point.  If this were 5th grade, my essay would be over already.  I always did have that problem.

Recently, I received a "restriction notice" from LinkedIn that I had  too many "I don't know this person" replies, which LinkedIn interprets as a complaint.  LinkedIn had put me on networking restriction.  for networking.

"Searching your email contacts (,,, is the easiest way to find people who you already know on LinkedIn."

According to my AOL address list, I "already know" Conde Nast, American Airlines and some people who promise they can provide "what she really needs."  These are the addresses they would like me to link to, not people in my field I have not yet met.

While restricted, I was not permitted to network with anyone else unless I could confirm their email address.  I should only network with people I am already networked with.  In order to lift this restriction I had to clap some erasers and endure an email scolding about terms of use.

"[DON'T]...invite people with whom you have no prior relationship to join your network"

I have completely missed the point of networking.  This is not how we worked the Fall Mixers.  One was supposed to mingle.

So I clicked their "I get it" check box and was hit with a "don't let it happen again" email with the subject line "You have been unrestricted."
"We thank you for agreeing to comply with our policies and know that together we can maintain an outstanding website for all of our members."  ("I'm not mad at you, Christina, I am mad at the dirt.")

If I don't already know you, you're in luck.  We will now never meet.  You have been spared.
I am checking out The Brazen Careerist instead.


  1. Thank you for getting yelled at because I'm pretty sure that I missed the point of LinkedIn as well. And I hate getting yelled at. Wow.

  2. I'm so glad you finally wrote/posted this story. You capture the irony well - and I think it jibes nicely with the larger ironies (re: "connectedness" and "privacy") that pervade this alleged age of social networking. It's so crazy that LinkedIn basically spanked you for ATTEMPTING TO LINK!!!! Gaaaaahhhh!

    --Dr. A.

  3. It's a machine. A machine sent you the email and restricted you. You are being controlled by The Machine.


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