The Kink in LinkedIn

Among the many social media platforms, LinkedIn is such that it had the basic intention of being professional. It is usually described as being the social network where like-minded professionals can meet and discuss prospects.

LinkedInUsually these negotiations via Skype calls and meetings are the beginning of a great partnership and business among professionals of the same niche.  However, I do not know about how things are like in other countries, but in Pakistan the standard of professionalism among our professionals on LinkedIn is extraordinary. A pomp and show of profiles that speak volumes of experiences, educational degrees, skills and certified courses must be based on truth, of that I am sure, of the LinkedIn members from our humble country. LinkedIn has become one of the most diverse social media network on the internet. You can meet any professional on the face of the planet, communicate with them and if nothing else have a ‘hello’ that resembles something like a handshake. The best part is that people in the same niche are recommended to each other by the software itself, so you can grow your professional network of the people that walk the same road. 

The feeling of being surrounded by your kind of people is exhilarating. For instance if you are a cook, imagine the world of possibilities to cook up recipes. In case you are in journalism countless windows can open your way to publications. Similarly the same goes for practically every other professional following a diversified career.  I made a LinkedIn profile last year. Then, all I knew was that this is professional network and like other social networks it was in vogue. So I went about the business of making a LinkedIn profile. I filled in the slots for my educational degrees, certificates, skills and then the work experience followed by the professional summary. I invited my contacts to join LinkedIn and finally started inviting other LinkedIn members to join my network.

linkedin signSimilarly, other members invited me to become a connection consequently.  Slowly and gradually my circle of connections grew. A year later I stood at 500+ connections and now I get all sorts of offers for work and partnerships. The entire experience is astounding. The fact that how could a virtual network help you to find work, make a healthy cliental, and become the droplet that created the reservoir into a damn- all of this follows the cause and effect theory. However, I also found out to my amazement that there is a kink in the Professional platform we call, LinkedIn. This little drawback is that human nature being the more caveman like tends to lean on its darker side than the better half. Like all other social media networks, LinkedIn too has the fault that people sometimes use it for reasons other than making new professional connections.

By that I mean, LinkedIn is popularly becoming a new and rather unabashed dating site. Talking to M. Khalid Rahman, a reputable writer and editor by profession and a member on LinkedIn had the following statement to make “I have found Linked In to be an excellent social site to communicate with professionals. If some people are using it for dating, you cannot stop them. And that does not matter. However, if our authorities can deprive us of accessing You-Tube for informative and educational purposes, they can put a block on Linked In as well. That would be stupid. The fact is that anything good can be used for a non-serious or bad purpose.” 

linkedinYou connect with someone on LinkedIn, they message you saying ‘hello’. In the very next message on LinkedIn they want to exchange phone numbers, skype ids– not for professional growth alas, but to get to know each other better.  This ‘getting to know each other’ routine is not unlike any other regime that takes place at chat sites a.k.a. dating sites for singles or otherwise. However, like any other online ethics that are not pursued, you might never know if the person you think is a dairy farm owner actually works at the gas station.  Additionally, besides the fake identity per se, LinkedIn’s other kink is that people endorse complete strangers because perhaps they might want to be endorsed in return. This is more like the maxim, scratch your back scratch my back. Not surprisingly too, it works rather well! I even doubt the authenticity of the recommendations that are common on the network.

For instance, I get messages all the time requesting me to rate individuals who might be in my circle but I do not quite know them well enough to rate their skills, or leave a professional recommendation. The bottom line is that the credibility of LinkedIn cannot be overrated if it is said and hence presumed to be professional. Like everything else, any website, object or philosophy can be twisted and turned to look into something different and therefore used as a means to getting something you desire. Ofcourse, this apparent desire is usually darker and could definitely mean trying to get a date out of a professional network.  According to a Global Communication Executive at IBEX, Mr. Syed Umer Ali:

linkedin logo eps“The new matrimonial social forum where you can find all the details about the person you want to patch up with, yes I am talking about Linked- In, the professional networking site where all the professional are supposed to discuss about jobs, where new entry level graduate can get there carrier counseling etc has little professionalism left to it.  We proud Pakistanis have once again proved that we can destroy any beneficial network which was essentially meant to be for our own betterment.  The same old trick can also be play with linkedin as people do with their Facebook accounts. Use a display picture of a good looking girl and use fake information and eventually you will have the so called professionals adding you as connections/friends asap.  Apparent professionals endorse you for skills they might not know the meaning of.

Above all, all these professionals don’t know each other professionally or personally, but nonetheless there is no lack of recommendation requests. Although I don’t quite understand this lack of ethical behavior termed ‘professionalism’, but having said that there are such professionals who are benefitting from the full use of this social forum. Generally, professionals are getting better opportunities from linkedin.”  Worst come, the good thing is that as long as you do not share your contact details on LinkedIn, the only people who can reach you via your email address, Skype or phone would be those particularly selected and given the special and well-deserved assent by you.