What LinkedIn Reveals About How Work Is Changing


I’ve been intermittently annoyed, nonplussed and confused by LinkedIn and how it’s being used these days. And I know I am as guilty as the next person for overusing, or misusing it, since all my blog posts end up there.

But then I had an AHA moment:

Our use of LinkedIn has changed and I don’t always like it but the site now much more closely reflects how work has changed as well.

  • The line between business and personal is increasingly blurred.
  • Work is not so rigidly “professional”
  • For millennials, LinkedIn is just another social media platform. They are as likely to use Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat professionally
  • Social media has created business opportunities that didn’t exist 10 years ago.
  • Posts that initially seemed inappropriate for a business site (e.g. too personal, too risque, too facebooky) reflect many of today’s most successful businesses.

Bottom Line:

Some people are looking for inspiration to cope with a changed workplace, others are inspired to “keep it real.” Whichever applies to you, the line between work and personal life is disappearing (even as more people talk about work/life balance).

Read on below for more on how disruption in the workplace is impacting LinkedIn as well as specific examples of how LinkedIn usage has changed over the last decade as it becomes more interchangeable with Facebook.

Disruption in the workplace: Why LinkedIn sometimes feels “off”

  • More of us are gigging, fewer people are working at traditional offices
  • People who worked at mid-level or higher positions are finding themselves looking for jobs that no longer exist (certainly not as they knew them).
  • Nothing is quite as it was. Disruption of the status quo is all around us.
  • And that’s why, for some of us, LinkedIn is increasingly feeling “off.”
  • One thing I can absolutely guarantee: it’s not going to reverse direction and become more formal.

LinkedIn is a true reflection of how work is evolving.

  • I’m on the site everyday but it’s only recently that I get why usage is changing.
  • Young or old, people approach work and their colleagues differently today than in the past
  • Things are more informal, people want to have more personal relationships and are more open about personal issues

Here are three examples of how LinkedIn usage is changing and increasingly, interchangeable with Facebook:

LinkedIn as support group.

  • Many, especially those struggling to find meaningful work in a changed workplace, turn to LinkedIn for support and inspirational storytelling.
  • One especially popular tale that pops up every few weeks on LinkedIn is the “someone is rude to you on the way to work and then, lo and behold, they come to your office and you’re the hiring manager.” This morality tale has appeared on LinkedIn dozens of times always told afresh – nice story but doubt it has happened to all these people in exactly this way. But it definitely resonates with people.

A place to air one’s grievances about headhunters and former colleagues who don’t return calls or network nicely

  • I understand the frustrations but am of two minds about whether airing these “slights” makes one a more desirable candidate.

A dating site

  • I’ve always considered this the most egregious use of LinkedIn.
  • Generally consists of females posting pics of themselves in bikinis (often asking if they’ve lost enough weight).
  • My first instinct has always been to say: Ladies, don’t do this.
  • Of course, I am even more annoyed by the thousands of guys who sycophantically  “like” these posts.
  • But then, this is Kardashian territory and they have certainly succeeded beyond anybody’s expectations
  • I wrote recently about top Instagrammers who make millions as influencers and they are all working the sex angle strongly. So I am no longer going to pass judgement on this.

And finally: Excellent insights from Michaela Alexis, who built her brand using LinkedIn after being laid off. Michaela is a millennial, so listen up. Also, big shout out to Si Quan Ong, Content Marketing Manager @Referral Candy for putting her on my radar.

Si Quan Ong recently reached out to Michaela Alexis to find out the BIGGEST mistakes people make on LinkedIn. This is was what she said:

  • The biggest mistake is people presenting themselves as somebody that they think they SHOULD be, rather than the awesome human being that they actually are.
  • There’s been an idea in business for a very long time that we need to “leave our personal issues at home”, like we can all just somehow shut off the human part of our brain as soon as we step into the office. That may have been semi manageable, prior to platforms like LinkedIn that are redefining the business culture.
  • I have yet to meet or chat with a single person that doesn’t have an inspiring story to tell, and yet, so many users are avoiding telling that story and opting instead to mask themselves in itchy suits and spammy pitches.
  • Tied to that, the biggest waste of time is expecting people to open up and connect with you on LinkedIn, when you aren’t giving them any reason to. If you aren’t prepared to keep it real, I wouldn’t bother using the platform at all.
  • You don’t have to “fake it till you make it.” Start being honest and vulnerable — and share your journey. You might just be the inspiration for another person to begin theirs.

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