FutureFive NZ - App of the Week: LinkedIn

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App of the Week: LinkedIn

I know I am going to incur the wrath of social media gurus and app lovers alike, but – shhh, don’t tell anyone – I am not a huge fan of the LinkedIn mobile app. I don’t hate it, I just don’t love it – and I love social media. 

Now, before I am inundated with a ton of emails explaining the difference between LinkedIn and the likes of Facebook and Twitter, I do get the difference, and I don’t dislike LinkedIn.

It’s just the LinkedIn mobile app drives me crazy. Many might argue it’s a short trip; I just find it annoying that something that is supposed to make a task easier actually seems to complicate it.

For starters, why does it not even remotely resemble the online app I am accustomed to using? It doesn’t have to be identical, and I’m all for adapting to the medium being used, but does it have to come at the expense of all familiarity?  

Perhaps it’s just me, but I just don’t find the mobile app to be especially user friendly. It took me ages – okay, around three minutes, but when you’re dealing with an app that’s meant to make things more efficient three minutes is a long time – just to figure out how to get out of the news stream so I could find my contacts. 

Maybe it’s my settings, but since I can’t find a way to change it, I don’t know.

It also infuriates me that when you invite someone to connect using the mobile app, it returns you to a screen that asks you to invite that person to connect (my apologies to the acquaintance that received three invites from me and is probably arranging a restraining order as we speak).  Why does it simply not grey out the invite button? 

The same thing happens if I accept an invite – I am still able to keep clicking ‘accept this invite’ ad infinitum, all the while questioning my authority to be commenting on anything in the tech space at all if I cannot do something as simple as respond to an invitation to connect.

Admittedly, there is a pop-up tag saying ‘invite has been sent’ or ‘you are now connected’, but this is at the bottom of the screen. You know – the spot your thumb is usually covering.

Now I do have it on very good authority – almost from the proverbial horse’s mouth itself – that the Linked In technical team are aware of this issue and they ‘are currently treating it as a priority issue to be fixed in the New Year’. My contact also informs me that I need not worry about the restraining order – the invite is only sent once, which is a relief.   

I do have to also point out here that I am talking only about the iPhone app – I have not used the iPad app at all so can’t comment on that.

But do I like LinkedIn?  Well, yes – when using the full online version from my laptop I like what it is: a database of business connections. In fact, if you are in business (either as an owner or an employee) and you are not yet on Linked In, stop reading and go and join it now. When you have done that, contact Linda Coles from Blue Banana and invest the time, energy, and few dollars required in having her show you how to use LinkedIn effectively.  As a way of keeping your business contacts in one central place, building a portfolio of your professional experience, and growing your professional profile, it is a great tool.

LinkedIn also allows you to make contact with a lot of people you may need to know professionally but have no way of reaching under normal circumstances. Simply search and see if they are connected to anyone you do know and ask for an introduction. 

Do I use it as a method of engagement? Not really. Wading through the thousands of groups to find ones I’m interested in leaves me cold, as does having to apply to join groups – especially when I then have to wait six months for someone to bother responding to my application (even my passport application was processed faster than many of the applications for LinkedIn groups I’ve made). 

In fairness, that may be an issue of growth that LinkedIn has simply not had a chance to deal with. They may also not be able to do a lot about it as it is a ‘human’ issue, not a technical one.

I did spend a little time with Linda Coles looking at some tricks and tips for using LinkedIn and the one I will share is about making sure you have a good profile description. Make sure you tell people WHO you are, WHAT you do, and WHY they should do business with you.  Because, ultimately, that is why you are on LinkedIn – to grow your business.

I once heard it said that Twitter is a cocktail party, where you flit from person to person, yelling over the noise to be heard and having – hopefully – a good time, while Facebook is a dinner party, where you are more intimate with people you know well, and with whom you share interests. 

In that case, LinkedIn must be a business conference, where you’ll meet a huge amount of people in order to find the one or two you may be able to interact more closely with in the future.

Or at least I will if I can ever get the ‘invite to connect’ button on my iPhone to work properly.

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