Wednesday, May 13, 2020


I saw an article (it went behind a paywall when I tried to look at it again) about networking in the absence of in-person networking events. That suits me fine, because I always hated anything promoted as a networking event, and I was always very bad at it.

Networking by computer feels less distasteful, but that still doesn't mean I know how to do it. The author specifically recommends using LinkedIn.

Well, that's interesting, because years ago, before the heyday of Facebook and before I learned to be wary of social networks, a friend recommended I join LinkedIn, so I did.

But I then had no idea what I was supposed to do with it. I got a lot of "please add me to your network" emails from people I knew, but I ignored them because I didn't know what to do with them.

Gradually they stopped and I heard no more from LinkedIn for years. But then a year ago I wished to contact a stranger for professional purposes - on a colleague's recommendation I wanted to offer her a writing assignment - and the only contact info I could find for her was a LinkedIn profile. So I dusted off my account and sent her a message.

All went well with that, eventually (she doesn't check LinkedIn very often), but somehow this managed to reactivate my account, and I'm getting "please add me to your network" emails again, this time from a somewhat more exotic collection of friends.

For instance, I just got one from a very old friend (I first met her 40 years ago, gaaah), whose peripatetic life I haven't always been able to follow but who is now a professor of ecopsychology at a Buddhist university, how's that for having friends who do something different? I looked her up with that specification (her name is not rare), and here she is on video talking about how mentally healthy it is just to get outside from time to time. At this moment that's particularly good advice.

By now I've learned to go ahead and add these people to my network, so I suppose I can keep track of where they are, but I still have absolutely no idea what else to do with a LinkedIn account. Any advice?


  1. There are several uses I have found for LinkedIn:

    * Find out about the employment and educational history of people I work with. I'm always fascinated to see the things people I used to work with are lying about on LinkedIn. No, that person did not "mentor younger writers" at our previous workplace, and that person had crackpot opinions and is wildly exaggerating their influence there.

    * Track down people I've lost track of, either because I want to contact them for some reason or because I don't, but I'm curious. Is that not-entirely-competent past co-worker still in our field? What company?

    * If you're thinking of applying for a job and you want to chat with someone about the company you're considering. You check LinkedIn to see whether you know anyone there, or whether there's someone you have SOME kind of connection with that justifies sending a connection request so that you can possibly ask questions about the company. Or they're few enough degrees of separation that you can arrange with a third party for an intro.

  2. That tells me what I would use it for, though I'm no longer in the job-hunting biz. (I am, however, as my post suggested, sometimes in the job-offering biz.) But what should I do with my listing to make it useful to others?

  3. That I don't really know. Are you trying to find people who use LinkedIn, or are other means better for reaching them?

    I think you have to pay to advertise a job opening on LinkedIn.