Confessions of a LinkedIn Sinner
Up until five months ago, I didn’t have a LinkedIn account. Since then, my experience with the platform feels like I'm making small talk in an elevator. It’s really been intimidating to put myself Out There.
It’s not like I’m shy. I have a pretty strong sense of self. But I am insanely scared of making the wrong impression on LinkedIn.
But the truth is, I already have.
You see, I don’t really know most of the people I’m connected to. I broke a cardinal LinkedIn rule (or two) and blanketed a ton of people with connection requests just so I could get that revered status of 500+ connections.
So if you’re reading this from LinkedIn, chances are that’s you.
Wait! I can explain!
Halfway through 2020, I decided it was time to go back to work. With an eight-year resume gap, I knew I had an uphill climb. Plus, I was making a lateral move from journalism into content writing.
Thankfully, I sought the advice of a career coach. She worked wonders on my resume (which looked like it was written by an 80-year-old man.) But she was rather shocked that I only had 30 connections on LinkedIn.
“Oh, no, no, no, this won’t do,” she said. “Girl, you need to get that number up.”
And then she explained how achieving 500 connections was the mark of someone who had truly nurtured a strong network, someone who possessed an air of authority. I worried that not having 500 connections would keep me from getting work.
Now, there’s mixed advice on the importance of reaching 500 connections. For every article I’ve read saying, “Honey, it’s not the number of friends you have, it’s the quality,” there are just as many saying, “Hey, loser! If you don’t get 500 connections you will die alone.”
I listened to the Devil on my left shoulder and set to work connecting with friends, family, past coworkers, old boyfriends. That brought my number up, but it was still nowhere close to 500.
So, I really ramped up efforts. I’m talking full Kevin-Bacon-six-degrees-of-separation. Oh, we went to school in the same state? Great, let’s add you to the list. It became a straight-up numbers game, and I pushed all the buttons.
It took me about three solid months, but I finally got over 500 connections. I will always remember the quiet joy I felt that day. I’m pretty sure I shed a tear. Thank God that’s over, I thought to myself.
But now I feel guilty. It almost feels as though I used these people. And it’s strangely preventing me from acting natural on LinkedIn.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a recovering Catholic. That whole guilt complex is no joke. So I’m hoping this blog post satisfies the whole laying down of my sins, apologizing and then saying 10 Hail Marys.
Because I really do want to start off on the right foot. I want to make a good impression. and I will always remember how important it is to nurture and respect my network.
Deep breath. Well, that felt better.