Sunday, August 31, 2014


I am a member of, or at least a lurker at, half-a-dozen freelance writing groups on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is as close as I come to engaging with “social media.” LinkedIn is the social medium for business people; you don’t find highschoolers bragging about how drunk they were last Saturday night. I’m on it because when I joined one of the professional societies I belong to I was told, “You have to join LinkedIn; everyone is there.” I didn’t take that literally at the time, but I think it may be true now.

The writing community spans a range of experience and expertise; there are rank beginners recently out of Journalism school, and there are veterans, among whom I count myself. The veterans cheer on the newcomers, and the new people keep us (or me, anyway) aware of what‘s going on in the electronified world.

I was “linked” for a year or more during which absolutely nothing happened because I didn’t work at making anything happen, and my resume was so dull no one would have cared anyway. Eventually the light went on and I realized I didn’t have to follow LinkedIn’s one-size-fits-all resume format, and that there’s a lot of latitude to how you can structure it. Mine will never be “complete” to LinkedIn’s standards, because your profile isn’t “complete” without your picture, and I don’t figure my mug shot is likely to win me any business. However, I’ve revised my profile to say what I want it to say, and I now find myself a semi-active participant.

I am linked to 39 people, some of whom I know and others who apparently come along attached to them. I’m told it’s a great way to prospect for business, but so far I haven’t cracked the code on that. I have offered “congrats” to a group member on attaining his seventh anniversary on LinkedIn, and sent a few words of encouragement to a recent Journalism grad. I asked an uncommonly bright friend who is also on LinkedIn (we’re “linked,” although neither of us is sure why) whether she was finding any practical value in membership. She summed it up beautifully: LinkedIn is like “a yearbook without names.”

But if, as they used to say, 50,000 Frenchmen can’t be wrong, 2,066,795 linkers, as I write this, just in "my" network, mustn’t be wrong either. And I've read there are 277 million members altogether. I’ll have to give it more thought.