What does your LinkedIn newsfeed look like?
There are probably some relevant updates from former or current co-workers, and a light litter of job ads. But if it's anything like mine, there are also a lot of irrelevant posts... and even lies.
With nearly 800 million members and counting, LinkedIn can create a lot of noise, muffling useful contacts and insights, and misleading with others. So how can job seekers and professionals use the platform to network and enrich their careers?
Among the weight-loss journeys, pictures of children’s artwork, and wedding photos that now grace my feed, I recently saw an evocative post on LinkedIn from someone outside of my network. It described a chaotic and unprofessional virtual interview from the perspective of the hiring manager. But wanting to show compassion, the author gave the candidate the job anyway... or so they said.
It was a great piece of storytelling – perhaps too great – and it had a clear moral. Someone I work with had interacted with the heart-warming post, and that’s how it had made its way onto my feed.
But later that day, I saw the same story again, posted by a different person from a different company. What a huge coincidence that they had the exact same experience! (Not.)
You’ve most likely seen the post yourself. A quick search on LinkedIn reveals that it’s been copied and pasted countless times by numerous other users. And only a handful of them state that it’s not their own tale.
Worse still, this is not an isolated incident. Many stories are "passed off" on LinkedIn without attribution to the original author. So how do you know if what you’re reading is legit?
It can be difficult for recruiters to discern what and who is authentic, too. Over a third of LinkedIn users admit to telling at least a few small lies on their profile, embellishing their skillset and credentials to appear more attractive to potential employers.
So, exercise your critical thinking skills: fact-check by searching for the material's original source, and look into the person's profile. Do they post a lot of unlikely stories? Or do they have "recruitment" in their job title? Chances are, they're exaggerating to get more engagement.
After my own experience, I asked my co-workers how they navigate through the noise on LinkedIn to find what’s important to them. Here are their top tips...
There are two main types of people on LinkedIn. Socialites who connect with anyone and everyone, and others, like me, who limit their network to only people they know. Both approaches have their benefits and drawbacks, but Fay Dawson has recently adopted the second approach.
She said, "I've stopped accepting every connection request and now only connect with people I know, or who post content that I'm interested in."
Although you won't get as much opportunity to network with professionals in your industry, keeping a smaller circle of contacts will certainly reduce the amount of noise in your daily feed.
Having a healthy mix of "gurus" and close colleagues is how Charlie Swift likes to populate his feed. "I start from two opposite ends – following respected, well-known big names, and connecting with people I know very well myself from my current or past jobs. Then the LinkedIn algorithm does some of the work for me, matching up interactions between those extremes and notifying me."
But Charlie also points out that following LinkedIn's suggestions can create an echo chamber. His solution is to "spend some time digging in the conversations below posts or trending stories, and selecting one or two people who offer thoughtful, credible and unique contributions.
"I look at their profiles, and comment or like, follow or connect if the positive impression continues. Where appropriate, I direct message with a pertinent question or reaction that I hope is worth their time, and hope to build a real relationship."
It's not a quick fix, but engaging with plausible people who truly pique your interest will improve LinkedIn's future suggestions for you. So it's worth investing the effort!
The same goes for my final tip.
Take a moment to follow hashtags and topics that interest and matter to you. And join groups that can provide insightful discussion.
All of these tips should help to populate your feed with more relevant and truthful stories, and eventually banish those annoying polls about polls, or unmotivating "Monday Motivation" quotes.
You can read more about how to get the most from LinkedIn in our article, How to Use LinkedIn Effectively.
Do you have any tips on how to avoid timewasters on LinkedIn and find what’s important to you? Please share them below!
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Such a timely and well-observed piece Alice, thank you. Unfortunately, there seem to be more and more 'timewasters' on Linked In these days and it is such a shame because the platform has so many positives to offer. I am certainly going to review my contacts and remove those that don't add any value to me - it will be interesting to see how this affects my timeline.
Thanks for these reminders and tips. I never would've thought to label "those folks" as socialites on LinkedIn! I was already applying Charlie's suggestion but needed to do it more regularly. I can relate to Fay's approach of limiting (or screening) incoming connections. It has become annoying to receive blank or non-personalized LI connection requests from total strangers, "third party buddies" (you and I have connected independently with person B or liked their posts/comments, but WE have never interacted), or strangers within the same membership organization. When I see the notification and there's no accompanying note, I get an immediate attitude - thinking to myself, "who the [blank] are you?" LOL (I have a unique experience that I'd love to post but it can wait until after more people have commented.)