It would be a pretty standard statement to say, “The internet changes every day.” But I truly feel it’s the best way to start out. So, the internet changes every day. Thinking about the transformation of sites like Google and Facebook is entertaining enough, but how we use the internet and its purpose in our day to day lives is a mindboggling evolution.
More and more I hear colleagues, friends, and family voice complaints about this feature or that function about a variety of sites and apps. These complaints are often the typical, “I hate the ads!” or, “It takes so long to load!” And yet, we know they are things we cannot avoid so we use those sites and apps anyway. My most recent personal aggravation has been with LinkedIn and the new features they’ve added that have made me ask myself: Is LinkedIn going the way of the beeper?
Yeah, remember the beeper? All the kids in high school that didn’t have CB radios had beepers. (Yes, I’ve just aged myself). You would make special codes that might mean, “Major boy issues – call now!” Or, “Meet at Hardees before school tomorrow,” or even the coveted, “I love you,” special code beep. It was the texting before there was texting. Sometime after my junior year of college, (with my CB radio still operating in my truck), my parents got me a cell phone. A true cellular phone. It was still $4 a minute so I didn’t talk on it a lot, but all of a sudden, the people with beepers looked kind of silly. Why beep when you can just call and talk? I know a lot of parents these days ask their teenagers, “Why text when you can just call and talk?” (Do you see where this is going?) But did beepers disappear never to be used again?
I am happy to report that beepers have found their home in the medical community. They have found their niche and have avoided extinction. To be sure I accurately depicted the present day usage of the beeper, I consulted Wikipedia (am I the only one who sees the irony of that in the depths of this particular blog entry?):
“Pagers are still in use today in places where mobile phones typically cannot reach users, and also in places where the operation of the radio transmitters contained in mobile phones is problematic or prohibited. One such type of location is a large hospital complex, where cellular coverage is often weak or nonexistent, where radio transmitters are thought to interfere with sensitive medical equipment and where there is a greater need of assurance for a timely delivery of a message. Another is a facility handling classified information, where various radio transmitter or data storage devices are excluded to ensure security.
A terrorist incident in London in 2005 was accompanied by overload and subsequent failure of SMS systems during the inevitable panic use by the general public, and showed that pagers, with their absence of necessity to transmit an acknowledgement before showing the message, and the related capability to operate on very low signal levels, are not completely outclassed by their successors.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pager)
What does all of this talk about pagers have to do with my frustration with LinkedIn? I’m getting there. I have been on LinkedIn since the beginning. I was working a job in sales and LinkedIn was touted to be the next generation of professional networking. You would use your connections and your connections’ connections to meet key staff and managers at companies that you wished to sell your goods and services to. I don’t know I can ever say it was a huge help to me with quantifiable ROI, but I can say on occasion I found the name of someone in a specific position at a business I wanted to call without too much effort. Do I feel I could have found it out without LinkedIn? Probably. It was at that time truly just a little easier, and I appreciated it. Shortly thereafter, I received a handful of written out, thought-filled recommendations on my LinkedIn profile. That felt great. Sure, LinkedIn asked them to recommend me or write something nice about my work ethic and abilities, but these folks in my network had obliged with a well thought-out sentiment. My life with LinkedIn was grand. I proceeded on in this fashion using LinkedIn until recently.
I’m not sure exactly when, (and as digital media manager, I probably shouldn’t admit that), but LinkedIn has added some features that have tainted my ‘rainbows and unicorns’ LinkedIn world. Here’s what I no longer like about LinkedIn:
· WHO’S VIEWED YOUR PROFILE. Talk about upping the ante on online creeping. But wait, if you are a LinkedIn Premium user, you can see the full list of everyone that has viewed your profile. With this feature alone, I no longer use LinkedIn to determine who the key staff and managers are at companies I wish to call on for new business purposes. At the same time, I don’t want to know who’s been creeping on my page and very soon planning their sales attack cold call on me. How I interact with LinkedIn moving forward completely changed with this feature alone.
· BOB DOLE HAS ENDORSED YOUR SKILLS IN TELEVISION. After working 8 years in radio and 3 years as a media buyer, I know things about television, but how do you know that I know anything about television? What do you mean by just ‘television’? Could I be on the air, or do I know how to set up the satellite and transmitters? People I don’t know are endorsing me for skills I don’t have. Emotional connection lost.
· REMOVING CONNECTIONS. It took me quite a while to figure out how to remove a connection. Ever accept a connection that you didn’t mean to? Good luck getting out of it. Once I finally found that elusive screen, I couldn’t figure out who I do and don’t know because this interface doesn’t list where they work.
It occurred to me after my recent disdain felt after using LinkedIn, that perhaps LinkedIn is no longer a tool suitable for my current workplace needs. After a little inter-office polling, debate, and vast research, we have come to the conclusion that LinkedIn is an excellent tool for:
· Recruiting employee candidates
· Networking with the purpose of finding a job
· Establishing credibility as a professional just by having a complete profile
It is now that I proclaim LinkedIn has gone the way of the beeper. I truly do not believe it will ever be extinct just because I can no longer stand to participate in the shenanigans, however, I do think it has found its niche. Just the way MySpace found its place as a music sharing social media tool versus a mass-market network, and much like the beeper that found its way into the pockets of doctors across the world, LinkedIn has found its place in the job seekers market.
What else has gone the way of the beeper and found its niche? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.