How I learned to stop worrying and tolerate LinkedIn

We have differing opinions of LinkedIn in the Sookio office. Some of us see it working brilliantly for our B2B clients, whereas Chief Copywriter Rory Stobo is what you could call a non-believer. But is he starting to see the LinkedIn light?

I’m allowed to change my mind. About a year ago I responded to Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn with a wishlist of things I wished they’d do with what I described at the time as, “[an] ugly, over-designed slapdash wreck of a social network.”

Do click on that blog link and have a read, but long story short… they haven’t done squat. They’ve made the profile pictures round instead of square, and that’s about it.

…And yet, I’ve somehow found myself actively using it over the last few months. Blow me down with a feather, I’ve even found some faint glimmer of joy in that slapdash wreck. How came I to such a reversal? Read on, and get some knowledge in your face.

LinkedIn makes it easy to show a bit of personality

Somehow, we have this idea that ‘professional’ equals ‘boring.’

So a social network where everyone is trying to be ‘professional’ quickly becomes an endless grey fog of banal platitudes, tedious articles and people moaning about recruiters.

I see a land of glorious opportunity hidden in that grey fog. Consider the number of people who feel obliged to use the platform for their jobs, and what you have is, quite literally, a captive audience for anything even remotely interesting.

Be fun, be inspiring, be irreverent. LinkedIn is an open goal of 500 million people desperate to notice anything, or anyone, authentic.

LinkedIn lets you fake it ‘til you make it

Ok, maybe authentic isn’t your bag. It’s not for everyone. But you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’d turn down the chance to be seen as more of an authority in their field.

In ages past, the great luminaries of this world had to spend decades with their noses to the grindstone actually being good at their jobs before they got invited onto the speaker circuit.

Now you can just chat poopoo on LinkedIn.

With everyone so petrified of expressing an opinion in case it upsets someone, the door is wide open for you to be as provocative as you like. The heady world of ‘thought leadership’ can be yours to enjoy with just a few simple steps.

  • Find anyone even vaguely relevant to your industry with more followers than you. Start manufacturing opinions on stuff they post. If you draw a blank, just paraphrase whatever they said. This makes you visibly ‘in’ with the right company.

  • Make really long posts. Doesn’t matter if you start to waffle a bit towards the end, they won’t read that far, they’ll just look at the general shape of your post and think, ‘cor blimey, they know their onions!’

  • Repost trending articles. Reading them first is an optional bonus, but the trick is to appear like you always have your finger on the pulse… the LinkedIn Pulse. See what I did there? Eh? Eeeeh? Thought leader, right here.

LinkedIn has a vibrant creative community

Hidden away, like the Smurf village nestles in the big scary forest, LinkedIn is home to a surprisingly busy population of people who actually make things. Artists, musicians, poets, writers, people whose vocation it is to enrich the human soul instead of just move numbers around a spreadsheet.

These people would quite like to be able to pay their rent this month, so drop them a quick hello and pay them to produce some content for you.

The beauty of doing so on LinkedIn lies in saving yourself the bother of sifting through the hordes of SoundCloud grime rappers and DeviantArtists out there who aren’t worth your budget. If they’re using LinkedIn properly, it’s fair to assume they’re serious about making a living with their art.

Even if you can’t put some work their way, if you see someone whose stuff you dig on LinkedIn, give it a share. You’ll liven up your own feed, and maybe put them in someone’s line of sight who can give them their next big commission.

LinkedIn is like Facebook (ten years ago)

Facebook is my favourite social media platform by a wide margin. It’s glorious in its unrestrained simplicity. It’s just a box for me to post stuff in, above a load of other stuff that people have posted via their own boxes.

I’m not a greedy man, that’s all I want from a social network. If I have one complaint, it’s that recent updates have screwed with the visibility of certain types of post, but I can still just sort it chronologically.

Some people bemoan the changes made to LinkedIn to strip away all the nonsense and return to a more honest, straightforward kind of platform, but I think this is what’s kept me coming back.

Depending on the size of your network, what you post on LinkedIn is likely to actually get seen. No algorithms prioritising certain content at the expense of other types, the developers aren’t that clever. It’s just people talking to people. Some of them are a bit beige, but I’ll take beige over feeling like I’m just pouring content into the bottomless digital pit.

Making peace with the LinkedIn beast

LinkedIn’s the only game in town when it comes to professional social networking, and sometimes you’ve just got to bite your tongue and play the gosh-darned game. With that in mind, we might as well try to have a giggle along the way.

For the Sookio blog, I’ve been Rory Stobo, and I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not represent the opinion of Sookio Ltd. Any resemblance to any social media platforms, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.