I join LinkedIn sometime ago. Not because I wanted to but because someone I knew sent me a link. Access to the link required me to set up an account and before I knew it I was in. I was then pestered to add my CV, offered the opportunity to check who of my contacts were members of LinkedIn so that I could “invite them to join my professional network, etc, etc. But all I wanted to do was to access the link someone had sent me.
And then the deluge began. Emails arrived everyday from people inviting me to join their network. Most of whom I barely knew or didn’t like but of course not wanting to offend I clicked “yes”. This just added to the deluge because the other members of their network were advised that I was a new member. So I then received invites from people I didn’t know, who were members of networks of people I didn’t like. It was getting completely out of control and I just had to stop joining networks and accept that I was going to upset a few people I didn’t know. But of course it does’t stop. LinkedIn tracks you professional networks and then “helpfully” provides suggestions of networks you might wish to join as well as advising others of your network.
I had expected that once I became a member of a network that I would then be constantly contacted but very fortunately it didn’t occur. It seems LinkedIn is just like any other social network where for many members a key statistics is the number of “friends”you have. Whether you have any contact with them or not is unimportant. I have since slowly built a “real” professional network from contacts that I want to be in contact with and hopefully they want to be in contact with me. Occasionally I still get invites but unless I actually want to join I just say no. So my recommendation to anyone thinking of joining LinkedIn is, don’t be too overwhelmed by the number of people who want you to join their networks and be choosy. To many of them you’re just a statistic.
So after my LinkedIn experience I decided I needed to be just a little more careful with this networks stuff. But I was attracted to Twitter and the concept of mini-blogging. So I became a “silent” member a few weeks ago, just to get a feel of what was going on and started following a few contacts.
I hadn’t done any tweeting until a few days ago when I was watching the men’s Olympic cycle race. Twitter was going beserk with the progress of the Brits and the diminishing prospects of “Cav”. I tweeted “don’t worry his team will easily close down the gap” and of course they didn’t, ruining my credentials as a cycling buff. After the race I then tweeted to Cav “why weren’t the Germans prepared to help” completely forgetting that “Cav” wasn’t likely to be the only person to receive my tweet and there was probably one or two Germans also. I was then inundated by responses from irate Germans accusing me of xenophobia, none of whom, incidently, answered my question. The simple fact was that “Cav’s” main contender was a German who I admired and I was really looking forward to a sprint finish between the two. However, his team had to work with the Brits to catch the lead group. If they had done so, in my view they were guaranteed gold and silver – “Cav” with gold of course.
Anyway, apart from this my experience of Twitter has been surprisingly good. There are a few inane comments which are easy to ignore. It can get out of control occasionally with obsessive “retwitters”. I quite like the personal feeling of a tweet from a celebrity even though I know there are thousands of other followers. I need to have a look at Tweetdeck and Twitterfall but my overall feeling is that this is a very powerful medium for building a professional network which I shall certainly be taking advantage of. I just have to try harder not to upset anyone!