Where for Art Thou, LinkedIn?

I was an early LinkedIn adopter.  A professional acquaintance sent me an invitation to connect shortly after the platform hit the Internet.  As I contemplated the invitation from this site of which I’d never heard, my initial cranky response was, “I don’t have time for this.”

Fortunately, I set my crankiness aside, and put my online profile together.  As LinkedIn grew in membership and services, so, too, did my professional network of connections.  I started a LinkedIn Discussion Group for my employer, which later grew to over 40,000 members.  My personal network has since grown to over 1,500 connections.  I’ve met new acquaintances who have been beneficial to my work, successfully sought advice on challenges, and read articles that supported my professional efforts.

What could possibly be wrong?

Simply put, LinkedIn has lost its way.

When I logged into my LinkedIn dashboard this morning, I was greeted with advertisements for services in which I have no interest.  My eyes then gravitated to comments that were posted to a discussion that one of my connections had initiated.  The comments were derisive, laced with profanity, and inappropriate for a professional forum.  Moving on, or so I thought, I then viewed a heated political exchange which belonged nearly anywhere but on LinkedIn.

We, as LinkedIn users, bear some responsibility for this cacophony.  LinkedIn states on its site that it is, “Connecting the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”  LinkedIn is not Facebook where professional conduct and a sense of decorum are casually and inconsistently observed.  As LinkedIn users, we need to carefully consider and craft our posts and responses to ensure that they align with LinkedIn’s goal of serving as a professional network.

Here are some steps that LinkedIn must take to regain its standing as the go-to online social networking site for professionals:

  1. Make reporting tools for abusive content visible and easy to use.
  2. “Groups” have become even more difficult to find with this new dashboard. Revisit your roots, LinkedIn, and focus on your core mission:  to make and support professional connections.
  3. Ease off on the advertising and find another way to monetize the site.

Your subscribers will thank you.

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