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Dear Dawn… LinkedIn Sceptic – The Answer

Dear Dawn… LinkedIn Sceptic – The Answer

Gulf Business’ leadership expert, Dawn Metcalfe, answers the fourth and latest question in the series.

After another week of popular discussion and comments, the Gulf Business agony aunt Dawn Metcalfe gives her expert opinion on the fourth question in the series.

The query last week was:

Isn’t LinkedIn just Facebook for teenage girls?

Dear Dawn,

Everybody I know seems to be on LinkedIn. Why? I am not a teenage girl and don’t need Facebook for grown ups!

Yours,

LinkedIn Sceptic

And here is Dawn’s expert opinion:

Dear LinkedIn Sceptic,

You’re our second sceptic so far! Thanks for your email which came at just the right time as it gave me an excuse to really think about LinkedIn.

The short answer is “LinkedIn is not Facebook for grownups”. Companies and recruiters use it and there is now such critical mass that it is hard to make an argument for not having at least a basic profile in place.

The long answer is more personal.

I use LinkedIn a fair amount. I am not a fanatic but I recognise some ways in which it can help me and I probably use it at least a dozen times a week. I am what I believe is called a “lurker” though as I rarely get involved in discussions and usually only “broadcast” by linking to things I have done or think are interesting. When I do I am fascinated by the ensuing back and forth on an aspect of the etiquette of using LinkedIn.

I recently shared a status about the frustration of receiving a generic “Please join my network on Linked In request”. The frustration is made up of a sense that LinkedIn (and many other tools) could, should and in many cases, are being used to help us stay in touch and learn things but are so often misused.

The confusion comes from the fact that we don’t yet have a shared understanding of the “etiquette” of how to use such tools. Using the generic “Please join my network” request as an example, I may be in the minority but I simply don’t understand why anybody would use this.

At the most basic level it’s surely about simple good manners. We all have demands on our time but, really, if you don’t have 60 seconds to tell me where I met you or why I should “link” with you it seems to take a lot of value out of the “relationship” and makes me wonder how committed you are!

I respond to all such requests with a polite note. You would be amazed how few people take the trouble to then respond to that but the ones who do are, in my opinion, probably going to be more fun to meet for coffee in the real world.

It’s hard work, although enjoyable and worthwhile, to build relationships that are worth anything in the “real world” and it’s not clear to me why that should be easier in the virtual world. All of the things that we know about building a relationship – honesty, trust, credibility, reciprocity etc., all are needed online.

For me, though, face to face will always win as the things you can’t see, hear or sense are vital to really understanding or being understood. So I have to advise you to get a LinkedIn profile but remember that the rules of real life apply and that “nothing propinks like propinquity”.

Yours,

Dawn

The next professional query for week five is now live and open for comment and debate. Follow the link here to participate.

Send your questions for Dawn anonymously to [email protected] and see them answered here next time.

Dawn Metcalfe is the managing director of Performance Development Services (PDS). Find out more at www.performancedevelopmentservices.com

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