This morning I received an e-mail from LinkedIn asking if I wanted to be LinkedIn with even more people in my extended universe. I did not, so closed the e-mail and went to heat up my coffee. When I returned there were 50 LinkedIn replies to people politely agreeing to be LinkedIn with me, and more scrolling in while I watched, perplexed -- people I know, people I don't really know, people I haven't heard of, and people with whom I was of course already 'LinkedIn', and to whom I now looked desperate, lazy, or simply incompetent on LinkedIn; the latter, unless I've been LinkedIn-hacked, may be true. And now everyone knows.
That said, if I put my mortification aside I find myself more interesting for knowing a guy who works for Big Oil in The Netherlands -- how do I? -- and another in legal services in Beijing. A woman in hospital administration in the Netherlands said she was glad to know me, which was kind; an old friend to whom I sent an e-mail apologizing left me hanging. I think she's probably just busy. Who isn't? And here I am, seeking yet another reply after being doubly LinkedIn, and all up to date.
It hasn't been a complete waste. A new friend politely accepted the LinkedIn request and I remembered I was supposed to schedule dinner with her, today! And did so. Someone who married an old family friend remembered us being party to a group discussion of Prop 8 back in the day, and sent all best -- hey, I like that person.I should really try to meet her someday, get further, better linked. There's a mom from my daughter's 4th-grade class -- who knew she worked in pharmaceuticals? My friend Martin's company was sold, and he started a magazine; look at that, working with my former colleague Chris! I'm glad to know. This is being LinkedIn, as advertised.
I did always think I should be one of the 500+-connections people, and was stuck at just under 400, an uncomfortable and unflattering plateau. Either you knew more than 500 people, like nearly everyone else in media, or you knew, say, 12, like my more interesting friends who threw up a profile for the heck of it one day and then never gave it another thought. The people I'd like on my desert island are disproportionately absent from LinkedIn altogether -- the academics, the writers, the artist, the nonplussed. And yet my e-mails found them too, urging them to sign up for LinkedIn and experience the benefits of being a networked professional, just like their professional friend Stephanie.
See, she has 500+ people in her network. She's arrived.
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