Please don’t sign up for LinkedIn university

Getting off Facebook and Twitter was an easy decision — the platforms weren’t adding value to my day-to-day activities or professional pursuits. Clinging on to LinkedIn and Instagram was deliberate. The former was purely for professional reasons. The latter was convenient — fewer words, more pictures, and much easier to scroll down to the following image until I reached my threshold.

Instagram is a great way to stay up-to-date with what’s happening in your friends’ (and their friends’) worlds in less than 60 seconds. But do I sincerely give a hoot about the platform? Nope. And chances are, I might delete my account in the next 3-6 months.

Essentially, LinkedIn is my only go-to social networking app, probably because it’s hailed as the only “professional networking” platform. And also because it’s my go-to platform to identify talent and business opportunities for my employer and, occasionally, consulting projects that I find interesting.

All that said, LinkedIn as a platform is slowly turning into Facebook for people with jobs. The vibes I get after logging in are precisely the same. You know the drill — motivational quotes, polls, opinion, shared articles, “curated” pieces, job posts (which are helpful), and company updates (again, practical). Interestingly, LinkedIn’s algorithm has evolved, so much so that the chances of people in your network seeing your posts is increasingly getting lower with each passing day unless one of them chooses to “like” your posts.

Heck, people like random posts for “further reach.” Because they think the world needs to see or take action on what they’ve just liked. The onus is onto you, the one who got notified what your connection “liked,” to take action than the person before you who read it. So, what do you do? You like it too! For “further reach.” And on it goes. No wonder I get to see so many viral posts on LinkedIn.

From a quality perspective, I still think LinkedIn’s content is better than Facebook, but that doesn’t make it worthwhile. Or maybe it does. My theory is this — if you choose to skip college and instead spend time reading and connecting with people on LinkedIn 4 hours a day, every day for the next couple of years, you don’t need a college education. I’m serious.

Just look at all the content you see — the universe’s wisdom is out there! All the world’s problems, solutions, significant arguments, counter-arguments, motivation, inspiration, encouragement, community, pseudo-philosophers, keyboard warriors, “life coaches,” government and public officials are all there. Waiting to douse you with practical wisdom that might change your life if you choose to take action of them.

If that doesn’t work, you can always come back and post your thoughts about it or reply to the person who was dishing out advice, only to have thousands of other people chiming in. What more could you want? Oh, get you a job? Sorry, you’ve got to hit that “easy apply” button wherever you see it and hope, pray, and stalk the recruiter until they reach out to you. Or block you entirely.

That’s idiocy at large. But that’s how networks work. To help you find others who value your thoughts and work. The challenge is a tiny population (from an individual network’s point of view) are trying to share valuable thoughts or work that resonates with everyone else. And unfortunately, these aren’t liked or commented on much, resulting in a far lesser reach than they deserve.

That’s the sad part. My apprehension is that with time, LinkedIn might become a cesspool of content that’s popular but doesn’t add much value, with good, solid, and valuable content becoming harder to find. Why? Because far fewer people engage with original content than the “snackable” and popular kind.

If you want to make the most of LinkedIn, remind yourself that professional networking means building relationships. And that doesn’t mean you have to like generic or motivational content that people in your network are posting. Instead, engage with content that is specific, solutions-centric, and original. Your network will appreciate it more, and so will your connections.

I think that’s a much more meaningful way to respect and share content that matters. Unless, of course, you’re serious about graduating with a Masters in Motivation degree from LinkedIn University. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Is motivation enough to get stuff done? Or improve things at your workplace in the long-term? If the answer is a no, you probably need to start using the platform in a better way.

Would I continue to use LinkedIn? Hell, yes! But I intend to skip the feed and engage with my network on essential matters. To find talent that’s doing great work. To find opportunities that are going to add value to my business. I don’t have to be in anyone’s feed to add value, just on the top of their minds.

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