Less than four years ago, I wrote a post questioning the need of having a LinkedIn account. Since my views on this have changed since then, I want to first admit that while writing the original post, I failed at looking at the problem beyond the specific situation I was in. I admit that my assessment then was rife with my own biases. So in this post, I want to shed some light on situations that made me reconsider my views on this.
While a few things like a low signal to noise ratio in discovering meaningful information from one’s connection still hold up true, I don’t think that my original post represents what I think of it right now. In the years since, I have come to realize that as one meets people at professional settings, despite sharing email addresses or phone numbers in some cases, LinkedIn accounts serve as the purpose of what I like to think of it as the digital equivalent of sharing one’s business card. In the years that followed, I have traveled to industry run conferences and have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people. The lack of a LinkedIn account certainly has made it difficult for me to connect back with them.
Since the post came out, I’ve also switched jobs two times. I’ve also had several former coworkers who’ve switched jobs away from the employer that we originally worked at. This made me realize that people’s professional lives are constantly changing. There are people in my network who have since then gone to start companies, work for non profits, gone back to school or have written a book or started consulting. Discovering all this without having a place that one can look up someone in their network is very hard.
While it may be far from perfect, I have come to realize that a professional social network is something that provides a good amount of social value.