The Missing Link

It goes without saying that the world is going digital, fast and furiously. Almost everything these days can be accomplished on a mobile phone or any other digital device. And with that, without a doubt, comes social media. Thinking back to when Facebook was nothing more than an adolescent social platform is almost unfathomable. How on earth did we survive? Fear not, I’m merely being facetious. However, we are quickly losing the battle between becoming a digitally assimilated society and remaining “untouched”. For those of you who still remain steadfast against owning a Facebook or Twitter account, I admire your tenacity. Lest I appear to single the minority out, the purpose of this opinion piece is to confess my own purist conforms in relation to my frosty relationship with LinkedIn (see, I can relate) and how, when it comes to social media, battles need to be picked strategically. LinkedIn has never been a social platform that I gravitated towards or found appealing in the least. But I’ll admit I was missing the big picture. I was missing the link between my belief in the digital age and the merits of the world’s most popular professional network. Most people, especially those of my generation, are well versed when it comes to social media, many of us having had a Facebook account for close on ten years but strangely, a large proportion of these very same people refuse to create a LinkedIn profile unless they are required to for their profession, such as me.

As a social media manager, it goes without saying that being au fait with all the social media platforms out there is a prerequisite for the job. If you’re like me, you’ve had your Facebook account for years now and you probably know the in’s and out’s of the worlds most popular platform. And no matter how many times Zuckerberg tries to throw us off course by adding another update, we’ve got it down to an art. The same goes for Twitter, Instagram, and the list goes on and on. But when it comes to LinkedIn, it feels as though I’m tackling another beast altogether. I’ve never been a huge fan of the platform, and perhaps it’s the assumption that it is predominantly used either by those edging their way towards their 50’s (don’t be offended, stay with me here) or those in the corporate environment, which I am most certainly not. Thus, creating a LinkedIn profile had never been on my “to do” list until I started my job as a social media manager with You&Me Design, and I fought tooth and nail against it. However, it was only a matter of time before I was to grow tired of outrunning said beast and face a most imminent evolution as a social media manager. In the beginning, I remained fervent in my protest – a martyr or insubordinate, depending which side of said protest you were on – by only filling in my name and position at You&Me Design. That was it.

The idea that LinkedIn is essentially Facebook for an older, more professional subset of social media users is not an unfair assumption. With over 300 million users, LinkedIn is the world’s most popular professional platform and the majority of these users are aged between 30 and 50. It was already not looking like a terribly good selling point. For me at least. I decided to delve into my aversion towards LinkedIn after realising that there was much more to LinkedIn than the “boring person’s Facebook”. Getting those little butterflies in my stomach when a client’s engagement rate increased ever so slightly was the start of it. If you are a community manager, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s a thing. I truly believe that, for most people, LinkedIn doesn’t seem to be a necessary addition to one’s social media arsenal, if you will. And for that singular reason, they are wrong, as I was. It took a lot of research to get me to this point, as, I maintain, LinkedIn is not as user-friendly as it’s counterparts.

However, the overall consensus is that LinkedIn’s advantages outweigh one’s antipathy, in my honest opinion. But first thing’s first: who should be using LinkedIn? LinkedIn is not just limited to those donning expensive suits, tucked away in high-rise glass buildings in the centre of Sandton (I’m sure you’re all very nice people) but rather, it’s a very useful tool for anyone wanting to further their career via the use of social media. As I pointed out earlier, our society is edging towards becoming fully digitally integrated, so why shouldn’t our careers follow suit? The point of LinkedIn is not to act as an online classifieds section, although it does possess this feature but conversely, LinkedIn is for networking. Combining traditional networking with that beast that is social media creates a new species of networking that will soon take first place in the evolution of the job market.

Another benefit that surpasses traditional means of networking is the fact that your CV is fixed to your profile, making it available to those who you connect with or who happen upon account. This highlights the importance of posting your CV on your LinkedIn profile, let alone keeping it updated. This is especially important if you are actively seeking employment. With the way things are going, recruiters nowadays make LinkedIn their port of call when headhunting.

And so, I wouldn’t call my relationship with LinkedIn “love” just yet but we’re getting there. I can definitely see value in its merits and I would strongly recommend that every person who is currently employed or is looking to be employed creates a LinkedIn profile because, as I’m sure you know, the future is digital and we won’t be able to fight it for very much longer. Much like the poor Australopithecus Africanus, a prehistoric hominid, we’ve either got to keep with the times or run the risk of “digital extinction”, if you will. In the end, LinkedIn is not the horrid creature I first perceived it to be. The fear of the unknown breeds misunderstanding and, as with most unfamiliar things, it just took a bit of time, research and implementation for me to overcome my defiant, ill-informed dislike towards LinkedIn.

Written by Lorian Clare – Social Media Manager

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