Thursday, June 24, 2010

my LinkedIn mistake

LinkedIn doesn't get as much coverage in the swirl of discussion around social media but it's the one social media site that is practically mandatory to belong to if you work (or want to work) in the tech sector. Many of us are adept at tracking down contacts in our network who can link us to a company we want to work at, invest in, or sell to. Everybody knows how to search for jobs posted on LinkedIn. We understand the basics. Some of the other features are a little harder to use.

The help defines "Answers" thus: "This feature is designed to allow professionals to exchange expertise." I had a question that was more of a request for help than a specific easily answerable question. I chose Answers as the place to post my request because it required specific expertise and the Answers feature allows you to specify an area of expertise, in this case databases.

I posted a request for Filemaker expertise to help a non-profit whose board I used to be on. The interface for narrowing down the query is cumbersome but I managed to specify "database" and the zip code of the organization's location. I made it clear it was a volunteer thing. I thought I narrowed it down enough. Apparently, I did it all wrong. The only response I got was from India informing me that programmer's time is not free. Oops.

In retrospect, I should not have used the Answers feature for it. A request for help is not a question and a request for volunteer help is apparently a social transgression. Maybe LinkedIn was the wrong medium in the first place.

People are on LinkedIn to leverage their connections to get jobs, investors, or customers. That's what differentiates it from Facebook or Twitter. Despite the zillions of articles on how to use Facebook and Twitter to get jobs and customers, that's not their sole purpose. My mistake was trying to transfer technical expertise from one social network to another. I'm not sure to what extent LinkedIn and Facebook-type media will converge. However, right now there's a divide to be overcome before we can leverage social capital built up over a professional career to impact the social good in the real world with the social media tools we have at hand.

No comments:

Post a Comment