The Secret Marketer on the pros and cons of LinkedIn

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I read some impressive stats this week about the rise and rise of social networking site LinkedIn. As with Facebook, the user base is no doubt split between dabblers and committed addicts. I fall somewhere between the two. I find LinkedIn is an excellent tool for tracking down old colleagues and a convenient way of maintaining my little black book, but am passive when it comes to more involved network or group activity.

In overall terms, I am a big LinkedIn fan. I am connected, have a profile and could not recommend it highly enough. On the subject of recommendations, that is perhaps my only real bugbear with LinkedIn. Why does everybody feel compelled to recommend everybody else in such glowing terms? I can cite several instances where people who have been close to bitter enemies at work have suddenly discovered near love for each other in their mutual words of admiration on LinkedIn.

It is fascinating how polite people become when they need a job and do not have to deal with each other face to face. Either that or they have very short memories. Dave writes: “Jane is an outstanding marketer, an inspirational leader and one of the finest business people I have ever had the good fortune to meet.”

“It is fascinating how polite people become when they need a job”

Delighted with her endorsement Jane returns the favour with a glowing recommendation of Dave: “[He] is a total joy to work with. A quite brilliant creative marketer who delivered outstanding results 24-7. One of the most talented people I have ever met.” No mention of how she knifed you in the back at the last restructure then Dave?

I would like to request that LinkedIn develop its functionality further to include a denouncement button, a counter-balance to all this nauseating back patting that would provide a useful service to all marketers who might be in danger of recruiting one of these too good to be true candidates. Click here to give a bad reference. You get the idea.

Ideally those techno social networking whiz kids should also find a way that ensures any comments that we may make cannot later be held against us in employment tribunals. A safe haven where we can really say what we think, provide a public service that helps sort the wheat from the chaff.

I look forward to the day when I can denounce a colleague by clicking the newly installed “run a mile”, “don’t touch with a bargepole” or “proceed with extreme caution” button.

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