Yes, today I spent/wasted a LOT of time updating my stupid LinkedIn profile. I shan’t say how much time exactly because it’s embarrassing. I feel compelled to write about stupid LinkedIn now, because if I don’t, then I won’t sleep. Tonight I’ll be tossing around, turning this way and that, rewriting my ‘professional headline’ and rejiggling the order of my ‘skills’ in my head. ‘Count sheep, Carrie. Sheep! Not ‘connections’!’.
On a normal day, I do all I can to ignore LinkedIn. I play on Instagram, I stalk around Facebook, I scroll up and down my Twitter feed. I pretend I live in Pinterest, then I make beans on toast. I tickle the cat, hoover the sofa cushions, daydream about trampolining, see how fast I can spin the salad spinner before my arm gets too sore then I rearrange my hosiery drawer. I ignore it for as long as I can. For months and months, usually. (I did ignore it for an entire year once but that was before I realised that, regardless of my own personal LinkedIn hangups, other people – fancy professional people – actually use the damn thing and really I should make half an effort).
But then sometimes a day like today happens. I feel positive. I feel motivated. I feel ready to take on the whole stinkin’ world etc., etc.. Just like that – I feel a sudden urge to face my LinkedIn fears and (dun-dun-DUN) update my profile.
Now, I’m sure when most other people decide to update their profiles they just, you know, UPDATE THEIR PROFILES, but for me it amounts, first of all, to a mild but lingering panic attack followed by the perceived need to drink uber-caffeinated drinks and smoke a full 10 deck of cigarettes in one sitting. Once the prelim phase of dread is over and the physiological effects of thinking about LinkedIn/consuming too many stimulants at once have subsided, I force myself to sit in front of the computer. Then I force myself to stay there for approximately five hours, typing.
In the middle of all this too, of course, there’s the inevitable ‘lose all ability to write like a normal person’ phase. I call this bit ‘Bullshit Bingo Brain’. That’s when all the corporate jargon and ‘start-up’ slang I avoid and openly mock in everyday office life comes tumbling, uncontrollably, out of my fingertips. For instance, today I found myself merrily prattling on about minimum viable products, key stakeholders, the management of expectations and high level and low level strategies. Later though, as if that’s not unsettling enough, the ‘Bullshit Bingo Brain’ phase peaked with the weirdest compulsion to break yet more of my own rules and start writing about myself in the third person. Like I’m deranged. Like I’m deranged and disassociated from my own body.
Carrie is losing her mind. Carrie doesn’t understand why, in all her 36 years of living, someone hasn’t done something to put an end to this CV misery. Carrie wonders why she is justifying her own existence by typing a list of tasks successfully undertaken and completed in a ‘fast-paced, start-up environment’. Carrie thinks her approach to, say, cleaning the bathroom or organising her wardrobe probably says as much about her work ethic and professional performance than spelling out, in words, that she knows how to ‘manage the expectations of key stakeholders’. (Manage expectations, by the way = plan fucking properly then tell the fucking truth).
[Though, thinking about it… Maybe other people DO fear LinkedIn the way I fear LinkedIn and maybe the only way for them to overcome that fear and engage, IS to disassociate themselves from their own bodies, their own brains and start referring to themselves in the third person. Is that what that is? I hope that’s what it is. That way, I’m not alone. That way, the ‘Steven/Marta/Joan/Whoever is a highly skilled communicator…’ madness is at least partially explained.]
I don’t know why. I thought today might be different. I truly believed I’d hit upon the right approach to writing my profile – one that would, not only help me squish my round self into the square hole of online professional networking, but, dare I say it, make it more fun to write and to read. I thought for one dumb minute that I might finally create a stupid profile to be proud of. You know, one of those ones you might, at some point in the future, admit to having. The approach, essentially, was to pretend I wasn’t writing on LinkedIn but somewhere else. Anywhere else. Simple!
What was I thinking?
That’s what I was thinking.
The five hours of typing passed as quickly as my positive, upbeat, ‘ready to take on the whole stinkin’ world’ etc., etc. vibes did with very little to show for either except a terrible feeling that I might – just might – be a loser.
‘How dare I call myself a writer when I can’t even write a damn online CV?’
‘Jeez… What if somebody READS this?!’
‘I have no choice but to click the ‘Writing & Editing’ industry drop-down thing because nothing else EVEN HALF REPRESENTS WHAT I DO. Stupid LinkedIn…’
‘Obviously, I’m finding it difficult to write about my skills and experience effectively in a compelling kind of way because my skills and experience ARE A NONSENSE!’ *throws empty yogurt pot on the floor* (…only to immediately regret it, pick it up, take it to the kitchen and put it in the bin. The carpet is new for goodness sake.)
It took a little while (and two and a half grab bags of Flamin’ Hot Monster Munch) for the mental doombugs to depart but thanks to a hula-hooping troupe of spritely fuckits that arrived soon after, I realised those things aren’t true and I updated the stupid LinkedIn profile and hit ‘publish’. Or whatever.
No. Of course I’m not happy with it. Don’t talk ridiculous.
You will inevitably have your own thoughts about LinkedIn and your own coping methods for dealing with it. Here is a list of my favourite things about LinkedIn. (It’s not really ‘a list’, as such).
1. Endorsing my connections.
I find myself endorsing my connections a couple of times a month (what a peculiar and oddly suggestive turn of phrase). Admittedly, despite everything, I think it’s a weirdly satisfying and fun thing to do.
Does Sandra know about building space stations? No. No she does not. I shall not be endorsing Sandra for her knowledge of building space stations. I suspect Sandra has been hacked. Does Sandra know about Marketing? Yes! Yes she does! She knows ALL about it. Click! Does Sandra know about writing press releases? Yes again! Click. Does Sandra know about speaking Spanish? I must say, I have never heard Sandra speak Spanish but then have had no reason to. I really have no idea whether Sandra can or cannot speak Spanish therefore I shall not endorse her knowledge of the Spanish language nor her ability to speak it right now. Next!
It is nice to give colleagues and contacts a wee e-nod of recognition for all the fancy stuff they know about – and, you never know! Some kind sod might return the favour. Not only that, but by showing up on people’s news feeds every now and again, you give the air of someone who is ‘active on LinkedIn’. People will think you totally understand what it’s for, how it works and why it matters.
2. Sharing a link to an article.
Once every… decade, I like to share with my LinkedIn connections one article from the reams of other articles I read every day. Now, here’s a tip. This is not the place for Buzzfeedy ‘What Kind of Party Animal Are You?’ gubbins. Unless, of course, you’re starting a business renting out your newly renovated Executive Boogie Business Bus for corporate parties. If this is the case, then well done you, Barry Boogie Bus.
Today I shared a very interesting article about brand participation. One person liked it. God bless that one person.
3. Making new connections.
I have a terrible tendency to imagine that every connection I make is definitely the beginning of some marvellous, unexpected new career opportunity in LA/Monte Carlo/Berlin. Of course, it isn’t, but that’s not to say that one day one won’t be. All the time, all the damn time I hear people say stuff like, ‘I mean, I get all my freelance work from LinkedIn now’ or ‘Yeah, so I was headhunted via my LinkedIn profile, yeah?’ so stuff like that must really happen. Knowing it really happens to some people in certain fields is enough to keep the dream alive. Though, for that one to come true, I’d need to UPDATE MY PROFILE.
Tell me about your LinkedIn traumas + triumphs, won’t you? Tell me it will all be alright. Tell me you understand.