Let me start by saying that I love me some good LinkedIn time. While my husband is burning the midnight oil on TikTok I’m over there scrolling through people’s professional posts on LinkedIn. That being said, what in the world is happening on this platform right now? 

I always think of LinkedIn as the professional version of Facebook. Connections with business contacts and professionals I admire from whom I glean thought leadership, industry news, career advancements and so on. Lately however, there seems to have been a seismic shift. Some of it has been gradually building but other elements seem to have come on fast and aggressive. 

Are we networking or selling?

I’ve always been a big believer in quickly connecting with clients, partners, friends who I talk shop with – just about anyone I know in a professional manner – on LinkedIn. My one guiding principle is to have at least exchanged an email or been introduced before connecting so that a baseline of trust and recognition exists. In recent months though, I feel totally outnumbered in this approach. I am confident when I say that nearly every LinkedIn connection request in the past six months is from someone trying to sell me something, have me join a peer group consortium or supposedly acquire my business. And then there are the direct messages…oy. This week I received a six-paragraph message from an unknown  person telling me about her work with powerful women who are failing at love and suggesting that I, or other single women (sidenote, I’m not single), may be in need of finding that one extraordinary love, which apparently she can make happen! While this may be an important and very real issue, it was a very random thing to receive out of the blue, from someone I don’t know, on a professional networking platform. 

Help is wanted!

Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that there’s currently a massive workforce talent shortage in America. From transportation to healthcare, financial services to hospitality, professional services to manufacturing and retail to technology – everyone is searching for, and trying to retain, great people. It wasn’t that long ago that LinkedIn Jobs was a bit of second thought for hiring. I remember thinking the platform was cumbersome and expensive for job posts. Those days are gone. Today news feeds are full of the purple “Hiring” banner for many executives with a smattering of oh-so-few green “Open to Work” tags. But the posts are what really take my breath away. What once were perspectives and insights from thought leaders are now chants of “Come Join Us!”, “We’re Growing Our Team!” and “Cool Job Alert!” posts. And I’m not making fun – I’m right in there with them. Sadly, each of these posts seems to be met with tepid enthusiasm with a like or two and maybe one share from a helpful professional friend. Does anyone else feel like all of us owners and hiring managers are just talking to ourselves on LinkedIn? Hello? Anyone? I don’t know where the prospective workforce is but it doesn’t feel like it’s here. 

Did you say influencer?

It was recently brought to my attention that there is a new kind of influencer hitting social media – LinkedIn influencers. Say what? The problem is that kind of like the self-proclaimed “America’s Love Queen” that reached out to me, these influencers can’t really be taken seriously. Some are dressing up in costumes, posting random pictures, poking fun at typical professional practices and disregarding good ol’ things like spellcheck. And while those of us with real jobs are getting a measly one or two thumbs up for our real posts about real jobs, these people are raking in tens of thousands of likes. 

In a time of so much professional growth and opportunity, LinkedIn should be more critical than ever and yet I find myself becoming disenchanted. Is it possible to turn the tide, slow down the spamming, memes and constant sales attempts or has LinkedIn met what feels like an inevitable social media fate and moved past serving those of us whose careers have grown up with the platform? I’ve seen political posts, wedding pictures and asks for GoFundMe campaigns on LinkedIn. Is this where it’s headed or is there still a chance of this being a platform for professionals seeking to learn, grow and connect in a way that’s truly meaningful for our careers and not chaotic? 

Give me hope and share a positive LinkedIn experience you’ve had in the past few months.