Sunday, September 7, 2014

More Thoughts on LinkedIn

What you have to understand -- and I’ve learned to beware of  -- is that LinkedIn is a digital souk. An electronic bazaar. Everybody there is selling something.

That includes me; I’m selling a writing service. So it’s 2,286,358 people, as I write this, just in "my" network (219,563 more than a week ago) all trying to sell things to each other, under various guises. 

Largely it’s a numbers game: (“10 Reasons Why You Should  [insert subject here]”; “6 Things You Must Have For [job satisfaction/success with women (men)/growing hair]. These will often be closely followed by pitches offering the very thing that will enable you To Do What You Should or that you Must Have. 

We no longer advertise the product up front; we “engage” the reader with some story (in fact, “storytelling” is a recognized ingredient) before we slip him the Mickey [Google “Mickey Finn” if necessary]. It’s all to do with “content marketing,” and my family of reader will know my views on that.     

Another type of selling is done on the profile page, where you put your best foot forward to the world. Here, too, some will sell more aggressively than others, the presumption being that more selling will get you more business. It sounds like a reasonable premise and is probably right.

It’s a matter of taste, though. If I ever had a client say my writing was a cross between David Ogilvy and Ernest Hemingway, you bet I’d put that up on my profile page in a minute. But should I say it about myself?

I don’t think so, but others disagree. Here’s a quote: “She has a gifted way of pulling you in [to the narrative] and holding your interest until the very last word.” High praise; but it’s not attributed to anyone, so we’re left with the suspicion that the writer is saying it about herself. Even if it’s true – that’s kinda tacky. But it’s something she can’t herself know; readers would have to have told her their interest was held, and to the last word, in which case wouldn’t she be likely to quote some of them or attribute their remarks?  

Ever fair and even-handed, I’ll concede it may be bringing her more work than my approach is bringing me. As I’ve said before, I haven’t yet figured out how to monetize a LinkedIn membership. I’m letting my work speak for me; but if no one reads it, I’m just another tree falling unheard in the forest.