If you haven’t been on LinkedIn for a while, then you’re about to be surprised. It’s not quite what you’d remember from 10 years ago. It’s become a place to learn, connect with the leaders in your field, and, to be inspired.
I am clearly a Facebook guy. Though I wasn’t the first on to the platform when it arrived in Australia, it didn’t take me long to dump the old MySpace profile when it got quiet and jump on over to Facebook seeing that everyone had gone there. But for all the love I have for Facebook, and the fact that it is still magnitudes larger and more influential than LinkedIn, I am spending more and more of my time on LinkedIn lately. In terms of time spent online, it’s overtaken Facebook for me. But that’s hardly surprising really. I work in a realm to that works with businesses, not consumers. And it’s consumers that Facebook does so well. And businesses that LinkedIn does so well.
The one thing that tends to keep me so engaged on LinkedIn, probably more than anything else, is the learning you can do on the platform. Apart from LinkedIn Learning, which is a more formal learning platform where you can sign up for courses and do them online, the learning I do tends to be from the content posted by those whose work I admire. Of course, like any social media platform there are plenty of pretenders who have a lot to say, but they tend to fade away quickly or they lose steam when no one is responding to their material. A quick look through those who are suggested to you to follow or connect with will bring you a tonne of suggestions of those who are leaders or influencers in your field. What they post can be really insightful. And for those of us who write full articles, we’re actually looking to openly share our knowledge and expertise with you.
And that leads me to the next great thing I find about LinkedIn – the connections you make with leaders in your field, and people who are just bloody brilliant at what they do. I tend to just follow those who I admire for what they do. I don’t hit them up for connection requests because, frankly, I haven’t earned that place in their life yet. I just follow them, and then read their updates, comment on them and participate in their knowledge sharing online. Not to put myself on their radar, but to honestly thank them for sharing their expertise – and add a bit to the conversation around that expertise or content. It doesn’t matter how much you know, and how much you’ve studied, it can be great to just bathe in the light of someone else’s expertise for a while and just learn something new in a non-formal, non-lecture, no-pressure way. Often in nice small, bit-sized chunks.
Get some inspiration
And then there’s the inspiration you find on LinkedIn. The stories of overcoming the odds. The women who break glass ceilings. The remote indigenous communities moving towards self-reliance. The kids who are showing the way forward into the future with ideas and a level of genius most of us wouldn’t even know existed. Those who are aiming for equality in workplaces, better working conditions, or for those in other countries they may never meet in the real world. Quotes are like a virus on LinkedIn. If you’ve seen one Bill Gates quote, you’ve probably seen 50 of them. They spread like wildfire, whether they are authentic or not. But when you find someone who does inspire you, it really lifts you. You might even find your “tribe” on LinkedIn if you’re career-oriented or business-oriented. And yes, there are groups of people who connect in real life because of the connections they made on LinkedIn. That’s what networking is in this social media and digitally-enabled world.
The LinkedIn of today is a far cry from the LinkedIn of yesterday. It’s a learning platform, a platform for connecting with other professionals in your field, and to be inspired to be better at work, at life, at business, or just to get that hit of dopamine you need before you head to work in the morning.