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Monday, July 6, 2015

LinkedIn for Geospatial Professionals: Worth the Energy?

I think of LinkedIn as the place you go when looking for a job, or in my case, for potential consulting clients or partners. My experience has been disappointing.

I keep hearing from those in communications and marketing that LinkedIn can be very valuable for getting the word out about an individual's or company's products or services. I believe these people, but I do think some industries/communities "do better" on some social platforms than others. And, I for one haven't found much compelling about LinkedIn for the geospatial practitioner.

My LinkedIn Experience

I have a free LinkedIn account. I populated my profile when I joined and most updated it when I changed my mix of clients at the end of last year. LinkedIn let me know when I visited today that six people have viewed that profile in the last 15 days. It also let me know I had 43 views of my last "update." If you don't speak "LinkedIn" an "update" is like a Facebook status; it might be a short message, but more likely it's a link to content elsewhere. I post updates when I write blog posts, like this one.

I follow some people on LinkedIn. I see their updates. Lately I've been "unfollowing" people who I either followed in inadvertently (often people with similar names to the person I thought I was following) or people who share content that's not valuable to me.

Most of the updates in my feed are "this person is now connected to this person" notifications. While it's sometimes fun to consider why this person at Intergraph is now connected to this other person at Google, I don't find those too valuable. The next most common category is "this person likes this discussion" or likes "this content posted by someone else." The next most common post is "here's some content I think is valuable." Sadly, few LinkedIn members include any reason that you might find the content valuable in their updates; they share only the link. A recent link touted as a "must read" by a CEO I follow. It was not a must read. The only person whose "must reads" I read is Tim O'Reilly, who I follow on Twitter.

I am a member of several groups on LinkedIn. Sadly, they all look about the same since the same people post the same content in each group. To make things worse, most of these posts, which are in fact promotions, end up in the discussions area. More on that below.

The Good (or at least Interesting) Stuff

I do find some value in LinkedIn, just not that often. One thing I find are great headlines. While writing this post I came across GIS needs to be more like iTunes, which I think is a great title. I'll let you decide if it's a great article. A few weeks back I ran across Google has purchased Esri by Duane Wilkins. I wondered if it would "break out" on other networks, but don't believe it did. It has since been removed from LinkedIn. That was interesting!

I did get this message which showed that some headhunters are using LinkedIn. I was disappointed the author did not know how to capitalize the name of the client.
My client, ESRI, seeks a highly motivated Editorial Director/Publishing Manager experienced in technical, academic, or scholarly book publishing to lead its team of 15.
And, I do get updates on when people change jobs or retire. I'm seeing many people I considered my mentors retiring. This morning I saw that Lew Nelson is retiring from Esri. That makes me reminisce and reminds me of how much I enjoyed working with industry managers at that company.

The Bad

LinkedIn has spam. Consider this message from someone with whom I share a group membership. I can't say which group, so I have no way to report it as spam.
I work with mosaicHUB, an online marketplace where businesses help businesses. We do this by making it easy for you to find quality service providers such as web developers, marketing experts, lawyers, and more, that will take your business from good to great. You can post a project to quickly get matched with a vetted service provider, search our directory to compare experts, and even ask an expert your pressing business questions in our Q&A.
I understand some groups on LinkedIn are on topic and valuable. That's not true of the groups I've joined or read. Part of the problem (as I noted here) is that that material, which might considered a "promotion," is posted as "discussion." Again, from what I understand, groups that are active and on topic have moderators who move the promotion stuff to the promotion tab to keep the "discussion" tabs filled with discussions! I do not see that in any of the geospatial groups, yet.
These are the "tabs" available for each group. Did you notice them?
Do you post your content in the correct tab?

The geospatial LinkedIn groups I watch, best I can tell, are started and then left to self-manage, with little input from owners or moderators. The "manager's choice" post in the GIS Group (a 66,000 member open group) is dated May 22, 2014. The group was started in 2008 and the group rules are dated 2013. The group rules are explicit about using the discussion and promotion tabs; I wonder who reads those rules.


Have you had a better experience using LinkedIn to move your geospatial career ahead? How do you use it? Am I just "doing it wrong?" Am I not visiting the "right places" or "doing the right things?"