I don’t do LinkedIn, though I do have an account. I set it up a little over a year ago when I first started to carve out my attempt at freelancing. I filled in the basic demographics, mostly because, according to just about anyone you ask, LinkedIn was and is the holy grail of networking. If you were looking to become anything of anything in the world of business, especially as a freelancer, apparently LinkedIn was the one and only way to ensure that you made the right connections. According to everyone, it was the ticket to making all the right friends in all the high places. You know what I got on LinkedIn? I got hit on. That was about it.
According to the ever-intelligent internet, LinkedIn is supposed to be a social network platform that is aimed at businesses, professionals, and employment. Evidently, it’s the largest “professional” social media and networking site that’s available today. Everybody is linking in! But, why?
If LinkedIn really worked like it was supposed to, then people would probably benefit from it immensely. Especially people like me that are trying to fight their way into the world of freelancing, where it’s just not as simple as filling out a job application and then being guaranteed 40 hours a week of, at least, minimum wage.
It should allow you to connect with other professionals in your field, swap ideas and know-how, showcase your professional abilities and accomplishments, and even find employment opportunities. But in my experience, it just doesn’t do that. Instead, it seems to be a creepy breeding ground for overly pompous “business” folks who think because their LinkedIn profile says they’re a multi-million-dollar business owner, they’re justified in sending you a dick pic. Not to mention, even without the weekly DM of shlong, it’s just not helpful. Like, at all.
“I had grown-ass men messaging me about how much money they were worth, and oh, by the way, since I’m worth so much money, here’s an unwelcome photo of my limp noodle.”
When I first signed up on LinkedIn, I was naïve and optimistic. Which, let’s face it, is never really a good combination. I set up my account and started connecting with everyone that had ever said anything about being a writer. Everyone from best-selling authors, to people that mentioned having a journal in the 7th grade. I made myself sound as professional as possible while not actually having a shred of real experience. And then I waited. According to virtually everyone that ever wrote a blog about being a freelance writer, I should’ve had job offers flooding in at any moment. I should have been connecting with big people, having intelligent conversations and swapping intellects with the best of the best. LinkedIn was going to be my meal ticket. Except, it wasn’t.
Truthfully, for the first several days, it didn’t do anything. I checked it, often. I tried connecting with multiple people. I worked my butt off to make my profile as flattering as possible. And nothing. I mean, I understood that I was a newbie if ever a newbie there was, but I really expected to get at least something. Some sort of entry level job for an online magazine that paid virtually nothing. Or even an offer to guest write for nothing more than a byline. But no, there was nada. It just sat there. Until the dong pictures made their way around.
I had grown-ass men messaging me about how much money they were worth, and oh, by the way, since I’m worth so much money, here’s an unwelcome photo of my limp noodle. I know you didn’t ask for it or indicate to me in any way that you would want to see my shriveled twig and berries, but given that my LinkedIn profile says I’m worth billions, I just automatically assumed.
And that, folks, is the extent of what I got out of LinkedIn. Far too many pictures of shriveled up, crooked weenies, and some spam. That was it. My meal ticket turned out to be a soggy ham sandwich and some constipation inducing government cheese. Not exactly the 5-star, 3-course dining experience I was expecting. After a couple of weeks of that, I just stopped checking it. Heaven only knows how many dicks and princes of Nigeria lie waiting, lonely and ignored in my inbox. May they rest in peace.
I’m sure several folks out there have had a far more flattering experience out of the social media platform that is LinkedIn than I did. Obviously, there must be, because it still seems to be operating at full force. If you happen to be one of those that squeezed even an ounce of productivity out of it, then let me applaud you now. Perhaps I didn’t do it right. There’s a good chance in that, considering my 4-year-old is more tech savvy than I. But something tells me I’m not the only one that finds LinkedIn to be a bit of an over-inflated joke.
The fact of the matter is, no matter how professional or business-oriented LinkedIn is supposed to be, it’s still a social media network. It still exists on the cesspool that is the internet, and it’s still subject to all the shitty things that cesspool has to offer. That means spam and junk mail and a bunch of big, fat liars.
That’s right folks, people lie on LinkedIn, too. There’s a good possibility that 35-year-old man that owns four companies he’s built from the ground up, is worth 35 gazillion dollars, and has one hell of an opportunity for you, is actually a 47-year-old nerd in his mom’s basement that’s making $59.95 off of every gullible schmuck that buys his “software.” And you’re probably gonna end up with one of those pesky computer STD’s to top it off. Truth is, no one is obligated to tell the truth. Anywhere. And LinkedIn is no exception, even though it’s supposedly a “professional” platform. If you think everything you read on LinkedIn is true, then boy do I have a great opportunity for you to make millions, and it’ll only take 5 easy installments of $25.99. Visa, Discover, and Mastercard are accepted. No two-party checks, please.
With all that being said, LinkedIn can honestly end up being a big ole waste of your time. There are currently around 100 million users on LinkedIn. But that doesn’t mean there’s 100 million people that are active on LinkedIn. I, myself, being a perfect example here; a good chunk of those people aren’t using their LinkedIn profile, for whatever reason. So, you could be busting your hump for hours a day connecting with people that are growing cobwebs on their profile. If you’re spending much more than a couple of hours a week trying to network through LinkedIn, then you’re most likely wasting your time on people that haven’t seen that profile since the dark days of 2008, and you’re missing opportunities for real work with real people.
If lying liars, dusty profiles, and uninvited nudies don’t turn you off of the LinkedIn platform, then try this on for size; if you want even the slightest of benefits from LinkedIn, then you best open your pockets and wallets, cause the good shit ain’t free. Sure, you can sign up for a profile for free, but if you want access to reference searches, or the ability to directly email any of your connections, you have to pay a monthly fee. If you’re anything like me when I started out on LinkedIn, you need every penny you can save to make sure you have enough Ramen to keep from starving. You definitely don’t have any room for an extra fee in that starving artist budget.
Look, being a grown-up sucks. It’s hard. It’s especially hard when you’re trying to break into a career. And it’s easy to fall prey to anything that the internet says will help give you a leg up or a foot in the door. But, heed my warning here. I’m trying to help you, I promise. LinkedIn may sound like you’re ticket to ride, but it’s just not. If you’re new to your career game and trying to chisel out a new path, your time could be so much better spent elsewhere. Spending hours trying to “network” isn’t productive, you should never have to pay for a job, and honestly, if you want dick pics, they’re a dime a dozen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Trust me when I say, there’s nothing special about the “professional” penises.
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Andrea is a freelance writer based out of Kentucky. She is the mother to a 3 year old little girl and step-mother to a 6 year old boy. She’s been married to her husband and best friend for 5 years. She enjoys fishing, camping, hiking and the occasional glass of wine by a bonfire.