I don’t use social media that often…., well, I should say I scroll is a more accurate description when it comes to my LinkedIn activities.
Years ago I signed up due to the urging of one of my closest friends and her plea, “everyone is on it” which I found to be oddly convincing. I reluctantly signed up with absolutely no understanding or objectives for this new project, operation LinkedIn.
I figured I would get to at least keep up with my friends and have a glimpse of how their professional lives evolve.
However over the years, instead of getting a glimpse of their lives, there were more moments about how my approach and perspectives change and struggle through the use of LinkedIn, especially in the pandemic time last year.
This is a story of a passive LinkedIn user who is getting to have active perspectives in digital connections.
Digital networking is networking
A few years ago, I received a linked in request from a person who was in a similar industry.
It was at the time I was focusing on increasing the contact numbers. I know…I am not proud of it. I was focusing on increasing the contact numbers; it was my go all in competitive nature kicked in and said yes to everyone and anyone who wanted to connect.
During this somewhat productive(?) time, I received one LinkedIn request.
With the initial yes to this stranger, things started to turn weird. After my initial yes, he suggested a physical meeting to get a proper introduction. I did not understand why we needed to have a meeting – no a clear reason, purpose, agenda, no nothing! I calmly suggested having the meeting once we have clear objectives, reasons…therefore it would be beneficial for both of us.
He clearly did not think my suggestion was beneficial, at least not to him. He was upset that I did not say yes to a meeting with a stranger!
Although this was a unique experience in my social media history, there were other offbeat moments as well; receiving lengthy messages about the products they sell, asking for an introduction to someone in my contacts when they don’t even know me well, etc.
What is strange about the online interaction is that people do or say things they would not normally do and say offline.
I suppose we can blame it on the culture of clicking/liking or even hiding in an online presence…
Or, maybe we are ALL to be blamed for living in this blurred space of both professional and personal lives all intertwined.
On my résumé (a.k.a. LinkedIn profile), it shows not only my professional background but also a personal one as well: Life outside of Design Studio.
It is a place where I share my thoughts on different aspects of my life: some professional, some personal.
With this unclear division of personal/professional lives, the etiquette of networking seems to be changing or being adopted without any guidelines.
Stranger turning into a guest blogger on my blog
Before Christmas last year, I received one of the kindest messages from a perfect stranger.
Not only he went through my profile and thought about the reasons for getting connected, but he also shared some of his thoughts on my old blog post, the green design I wrote.
He is an engineer who had green design experience, and he pointed out some of the flaws in my green design thinking. Although, I was receiving criticism, I was overjoyed with the knowledge that he found the blog piece to be interesting enough to make comments! even if they were negative.
While responding to some of his questions, and getting to know him (aka checking out his LinkedIn profile) I thought of creating a Q&A section for him to answer for some of the questions my readers might be interested in.
It was one of those my aha moment. (which is rare, especially in the mindless scrolling activities)
I realized we made a true connection through learning about each other even though it was all done digitally.
The dark side of social media
This last point has been talked about a lot on various media.
I am sure I am not the only one who gets down and envious of seeing other peoples’ stories on their feed.
Scrolling down to read and see everyone’s accomplishments, accolades, job promotions, even a tidy well-organized office seem to do the trick for me, not in a good way.
With this less than favourable mindset kick in, I still cannot help but scrolling…and some more.
I read it somewhere, the social media‘s like Facebook /Instagram with beautiful images, people get down because their lives are not as perfect (or perfect looking). I admit I have been there…
I think professional social media platform like LinkedIn has the same effect. Except It is not so much with images… but with written words, or with the number of likes.
As a passive LinkedIn user, my experience has been observational. I don’t have scientific data to prove my sentiments. It is all in my head. However my hunch is that many of us would feel this way.
Like many things in life, there are some good and not so great moments with LinkedIn experience and some unexpected along the way.
Without the LinkedIn adventure I started years ago, I don’t think I could have come across great opportunities – connecting to people who are not in the same industry, finding consultants I needed or even making a lasting connection with a person who eventually became my clients.
Years ago, getting a request from one of my oldest friends who asked me to be on LinkedIn was a fun start. I just did not anticipate the up and down moments from something I passively started.
My journey through LinkedIn has been a slow, unclear process…but it still provided lessons about myself and others and how we all interact in this ever-changing world we live in.
What has been your LinkedIn story? Do you want to share your story? I would love to share your story on our blog,