What am I supposed to do with LinkedIn if I’m not a recruiter?

Maybe it’s just me, but LinkedIn (LI) now seems like a noisier, boring version of Twitter that’s also counter-intuitive and overly self promotional. I admittedly use only the free version, so my experience is tainted by the constant attempts to upsell me.

That, plus the relentless pressure to connect me with people I don’t know, makes the whole thing irritating. I’m literally fewer degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon than 95% of the potential contacts suggested by LI algorithms. If I worked in the same building as someone ten years ago and I’m not already connected to them, there’s probably a reason.

When I now visit LI, usually on a mobile device to accept or reject a connection request, I’m bombarded with information. That’s fine on Twitter where I’m following everyone from my high school English teacher to comedians to politicians. I’m there, I’m seeking entertainment, I’m expecting a lot of competition for my attention.

LI used to be the one social media platform where I didn’t have to sift through angry forum chatter, but now such fodder is front and center. What happened to the networking platform aimed at professional growth and business development?

Are you not entertained?

I get it. They need to make money and users have expectations about their experience. It needs to be immersive. That’s why the “news” feed is the cornerstone of the online community. Scroll down! Participate! Be heard!

I recognize that there are a lot of specialty networking platforms out there aimed at digital shut-ins like me — something for every professional discipline and industry. If I want to publish a real-time manifesto about why Linux is so great, there are plenty of forums in the dark recesses of the interwebs for me to do that. The risk with relying on niche networking media is that you’ll wind up in an echo chamber where ideas are confirmed rather than challenged by a broader community.

So why can’t we have a broader online community that includes generic clickbait, but isn’t exclusively dedicated to it? I’d use LI more if I could more easily explore topics of interest, customize my user experience, and interact with those in my network.

Here are 4 ways — were I the King of LI — to make it a regular part of the work day for someone other than a salesperson or a recruiter. If the capacity already exists to modify the free version user experience in the manner I propose, then chalk this up to a humiliating case of user error.

4 Ways to Prevent LinkedIn from Becoming the Next MySpace

Okay, that was a bit harsh, but I’m sticking with it.

  1. Bigger Toolbar — You can keep focus on the user posts without being so obvious about it. If I want to learn or research, rather than say something mean about a post, it would be nice if the navigation buttons were actually visible on my mobile device.
  2. Pick Your Poison — I know revenue is critical and not everyone is going to pony up for the premium service, but a banner ad at the top, box ad in the hero, and a news feed full of sponsored posts is overdoing it. I’ll put up with it if I’m scrolling towards a pithy comment from Bill Maher or Albert Brooks. A job posting of no interest to me, not so much.
  3. Please Filter My Diversity — After a few years, most of us amass a broad, diverse group of contacts. Not all of them are professionally relevant to me. Make it easy for me to excise them from my feed without unfriending them.
  4. Categorize Me — Rather than just heave a plethora of subject matter at me, why not ask me what I want? I’m semi-certain the technology exists to do that. Again, let me customize my experience somewhere between the overly generic and insanely granular. There has to be a middle ground between “Marketing 101” and “5 Keys to Maximizing SEO for Flip Flop Manufacturers in Western Belize”.

Obviously, I’m not a big fan of LI, but I’m eager to learn why I should love it. What do you think of the platform? Is it time for something newer, better, more innovative? Or am I just Grampa Simpson yelling at clouds?

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