April 14, 2009

What is the point of LinkedIn?

Posted in Behaviour at 21:23 by graham

Update 23 Aug 2011: Finally closed my LinkedIn account. To their credit the ‘Close Account’ feature is straightforward.

Update 4 Feb 2011: Steve Pavlina, in his article about leaving Facebook writes:

I nuked my Linkedin account at the same time I left Facebook. Linkedin is supposed to be a business networking service, and I had about 350 contacts there, but I always found that service utterly useless, so it was a no-brainer to dump it.

End update

I’m on LinkedIn, I’m connected to 48 people. I go there, I declare to the world that I know these people. And then what?

If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. There’s:

If it takes a blog post, a book, and a community project, to find a point to your web application, I think there may not be one.

LinkedIn tries to explain itself

Take the blog post for example. It says that LinkedIn is, and I quote, “a great way for professionals to strengthen their online brand reputation and leverage their professional network”. Huh?

How about the front page. I bet they have a super-succinct value proposition. It’ll be obvious once I get to the front page:

  • Stay informed about your contacts and industry
  • Find the people & knowledge you need to achieve your goals
  • Control your professional identity online

Let’s be honest, the reason you are ‘connected’ to these people on LinkedIn, as opposed to Facebook, Bebo, Orkut, or Friendster, is because you don’t want to “stay informed” about them. You don’t want to know what movie they watched last night.

What about the second bullet point, finding people? That’s about recruitment, and the trouble is, recruitment has gone niche.

LinkedIn seems to be built around a 1940’s model where you hire someone because they went to the same college as you: “Cambridge lad eh? Jolly good. Welcome to the company. Scotch?”

Maybe it’s all about that last bullet point, your “professional online identity”? LinkedIn is your home on the web, a virtual calling card, MySpace without the teenage exuberance? Well, if you’re in tech and your only online presence is LinkedIn, that’s less than impressive. A bit like a graphic designer printing his business cards on that machine at the mall.

LinkedIn prevents people from contacting you

If you are trying to get in touch with someone, whom we’ll call Chris, you probably start with your favorite search engine. You type in his name. Chris’ LinkedIn profile comes up. You click on it. You now have three options:

  • You can pay LinkedIn $25, and they’ll let you send Chris an email (an ‘InMail’).
  • You ask your friend Alice to ask her friend Bob to introduce you to Chris.
  • You do what I do. You hit Back. Click on the next search result, which is Chris’ blog, select the Contact or About page, and email him directly. LinkedIn just wasted your time.

I may of mentioned this before, but this is not the 1940’s. We Internet types are comfortable talking to strangers. All I want is an email address, and that’s what LinkedIn doesn’t give me.

Let’s recap

You go to LinkedIn. You declare all your connections. You complete your profile, recommend people, answer questions, and so on. You give them a lot. And what does LinkedIn do for you? They prevent people contacting you. So, what, exactly, is the point of LinkedIn?


  1. Leah said,

    November 22, 2015 at 21:58

    I think LinkedIn is like “Top Trumps”.

  2. Tyrone said,

    January 12, 2015 at 16:30

    I think all “social media” are antisocial environment. I don’t use any and am just fine with out them. Go out and be a person not a coward behind text. LinkedIn is just another popular kids club.

  3. Paul Bradshaw said,

    August 18, 2014 at 20:03

    LinkedIn = tosh I found myself being hoodwinked into joining this site a second time after deleting my first account because I thought it was a joke then. Reasons why?? well just look at some of the photos people post. This is supposed to be a professional site. We should be seeing suited and booted professionals exhibiting corporate photos. What do we get? bints flashing their bits and blokes making prats of themselves. Not a good start. Next, the Pokémon effect. Collecting names like kids collect cards. What is it about?? I suspect it is useless. I see it as a so called professional facebook. I’m out. no point to this nonsense. Can’t be bothered with all the email updates and bulletins. No value whatsoever.

  4. David Johnson said,

    August 30, 2013 at 19:11

    Total waste of time. It reminds me of kids collecting trading cards. Someone adds you, so you accept and think, what the hell, let’s write to the guy and see what we can do…well what a bloody surprise, he doesn’t respond. And why? He wants you to get access to your contacts…END OF. So that one day, when he decides to look for a new job, someone checks his profile and sees his 850 contacts…oohhh!!! big man!! He’s got he hook up and then some!!

    Total toilet.

  5. » Blog Archive Why MyFriendDoesThat Is Not Like LinkedIn said,

    August 6, 2013 at 13:16

    […] out there so when sending job applications the recruiter can compare the CV we sent them with your LinkedIn CV. We do it ourselves but it wasn’t the main idea of LinkedIn founders for this […]

  6. Roger McKafe said,

    August 12, 2009 at 20:09

    LinkedIn is like Pokemon cards for adults.

  7. Rob Kirton said,

    April 24, 2009 at 09:47


    To date, I have found little benefit from being Linked-In. Having said that I have been on the end of a couple of recruiting searches and business offers as the result of subscribing. Just nothing suitable to date. I would suggest that, how people find others is by the means of a truly remarkable path, and has little to do with formal means of introduction.

    For example I was force fed Latin at School many years ago, and can only remember classic “schoolboy Latin”. Those who have been there will understand :0)

    I am also a believer in walking and using it to collect my thoughts; putting aside a little time each day to do so. For some strange reason I found myself typing “Solvitas perambulum” into Google this morning.

    Guess what I found?

  8. Steve Knight said,

    April 15, 2009 at 08:30

    Bravo! I have little use for LinkedIn either … other than it let’s me do exactly what you say. Stay loosely connected to the people I sort-of know. The people I really-know I don’t need LinkedIn for.

    Whether it will ever be of benefit to me seems debatable because I’ve been on it for 4 years and have used it to look up an email address exactly once.

    Return on effort? About zero.

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