THE 10 MOST ANNOYING PEOPLE ON LINKEDIN
I am going to admit it first; it’s a rainy Sunday afternoon and I am not in the happiest of moods. A bit of surfing never goes amiss. What does irritate me more than it probably should on this gloomy Sunday is the rapid decay of LinkedIn.
I get it, it’s social media and it has its perks and flaws. By now it is clear that social media has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the infinite monkey theorem is wrong. For those unfamiliar with it: the infinite monkey theorem states that monkeys hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will at some point produce the complete works of William Shakespeare.
Occasionally, it just feels great to critique and add no meaningful content, yet point out what a lot of us think. It’s the prerogative of many a great columnist. If I document my own journey with LinkedIn, it started as this small thing that kept sending you pesky e-mails to set up a profile because some people who had your e-mail address in their inbox inadvertently shared that information with the LinkedIn crew.
Having set up a basic profile, I didn’t give it much thought, and a couple of years later it kind of became a glorified address book for people you knew, but didn’t really care about beyond work. Handy when changing companies, switching phones and forgetting to ‘copy all contacts to SIM’.
Fast forward another few years and it struck the balance about right. It was called Facebook for business people but it wasn’t. It was more like a way to hand out digital business cards and to discover that other people in your line of work had some interesting things to share.
Fast forward to today and every time I open LinkedIn there are more and more cringe-worthy shares, comments and pictures that are not bad per se, but somehow feel inappropriate or shared on the wrong forum.
So here we go, the 10 most annoying people on LinkedIn, per me, in no order of importance:
1. The first day gloater
It is your first day at work. Congratulations! I am happy for you and I am sure that it is well deserved and you had a long and arduous journey getting from that first interview to starting. I have been there, a few times. I too, was excited when I got a new job, and shared the joy with my partner, friends and family.
I did not however feel the need to take a picture of my desk, and send this to a whole heap of people I have never met, to show of the ‘goodies’ that were waiting for me. Oh great! You got a phone AND a laptop? And even an expensive one? And not one, but two T-shirts with the company logo, and in different colours? Is that … a pencil I see?
Have you any idea that this may come across a bit gloat-y? It must also be a tad irritating for the large group of people on LinkedIn desperately looking for work still.
Be discreet, change your job title on day one and your network will see this and no doubt congratulate you (it’s no effort, there’s even a button that does it for you).
2. The self-proclaimed guru
You know who they are. Always online, always commenting in a very combative and all-knowingly patronising manner to other people’s posts without ever writing their own. They don’t seem to have a title, but a whole range of them, neatly separated by light verticals:
Data Influencer │ Top 50 Adviser │ International Marketer │ Disruptive Thinker │ Globally Mobile
It always makes me roll my eyes when I read these as they are so out of whack and it is always hard to find any evidence of any of these super-achievements in the person’s actual resume. What it means is: I am between jobs and am trying to have my profile show up in as many recruitment searches as possible. Another potential meaning is: I have a job title but am either embarrassed about it, or genuinely think I am destined to be so much more.
I wouldn’t have an issue with this – you must do everything within your power to land a great job – if it wasn’t for the fact that these profiles seem to share a need for drama and a desire for confrontation. Whenever you get an overly hostile and inappropriate comment from one of these when you post something it is best to ignore: they have more time than you and an interesting inability to self-regulate.
Most people have a job title that explains what they do for a living in clear and practical terms. Please use it. If you happen to have lost your job, for which I genuinely feel sorry (but don’t worry, everyone I know has got out of this and so will you), use your latest job title. Or just take out the company name. I am a Finance Director. Or I am a Brand Manager. So much easier and believable to boot.
3. The ethical boaster
I clearly remember the first time I read one of these and I had to re-read it three times to believe. It was a (long) post from an assistant retail manager at a supermarket who had to let the world know that on her way to work, she met an old person on the train and started talking. Followed by them grabbing a coffee together to talk for 4 more hours. How amazing was that? How amazing am I?
I have a few problems with this. Firstly, I talk to a variety of strangers – including old people – in my own time. Unless you are a social worker (or Angelina Jolie), I do not know why it is a sensible thing to do when you are on the clock, and then to boast about it? Did you happen to save that person’s life? Was it relevant to your job? No, you had a coffee. So, if I meet a woman on a train and we hit it off, should I invite her for a coffee during work hours and we all pretend that’s ok? It is all just very bizarre.
But this trend continues. Let’s post a story about how I had these two teenagers come into my shop to look at designer watches which they could not afford. Cue opportunity for me to take a selfie, post it on LinkedIn, saying these kids will buy my watch when they grow up.
These are all beautiful stories, but when you share them on a platform that is not really designed for them, you will get mixed responses. We have a ton of other platforms that love that stuff: Facebook, Mumsnet, Chatterbox, YouTube, Vine, to name but a few.
4. The friendly advisor
This is a tricky one as a few of these have been named and shamed. In my book, there are three groups of people on LinkedIn I connect with: the people that I know or have met, the people I am about to meet and the rest, who randomly reach out, and seem genuine and interesting. Granted, I am at fault of accepting some requests I shouldn’t have, but such is life. We are all just a date away from a stalker.
The people I am talking about here will randomly send you a mail – in good faith – to tell you something utterly trivial. My favourite is: you should really change your profile picture. Of course, no explanation is given as to why. I am sorry that my picture is not to your liking, but who are you? The solicitor in the UK who told someone from the opposite sex that he thought her picture was beautiful has since regretted it.
Please, behaviour like this is freaky and weird, even when done with the best intentions. If you want to give random advice or comment on people’s appearance, may I suggest Tinder or Instagram as a great start.
5. The ghosting head hunter
I have developed a real skill now for sniffing these out. The over eager head hunter who has the ‘perfect’ role for you, in the ‘best company ever’ and imminently needs to talk to you, needs your updated CV and needs your personal e-mail and then … nothing.
The first time you are on the receiving end of one of these is very strange. So much effort that went into convincing someone to get excited to then disappear completely is a bit counter intuitive.
Tip for head hunters: it is very unprofessional to do this and we business people talk too so we know who you are. Ghosting is for insecure and conflicted teenagers who have not matured to a point of being able to cope with the break-up of a relationship. It’s not how business ought to work.
6. The happy downsizer
Oh, I do like these, and I am sure there is a special place for them somewhere. You must have come across some of them. Here’s the spiel:
"I used to be so amazing. I had, like, the best job ever and I was meeting world leaders, flying first class everywhere and rubbing shoulders with the jet set in 7-star hotels. But one day, I woke up, and I had some sort of ‘aha erlebnis’ or ‘defining life moment’ and realised it was all fake. Everything I was amazing at, became sort of rubbish overnight. And suddenly – as awaking from a nightmare – I felt the light and I saw the path. I am now working in a ‘normal’ job, and I fly economy if I fly, because mostly I am home at 5pm. I am the BEST dad ever, I have become the BEST cook ever and I can afford to downsize because I made so much money in my previous job and my wife is supporting me. I do still have the need to let all of you losers know that I am still amazing, and I am still better, just in a different way."
These posts always get a lot of ‘likes’ because it is what we all want to do, could we afford it. I would love nothing more than to spend every day, all day with the kids but sadly I must suffer the harder life to give them a better chance in life than I had when I started out.
Secretly I hope I can one day post one of these, but I won’t pretend I had some spiritual revelation. I will just admit I was a bit tired and wanted a downsize.
7. The uninvited sales pest
I get it, you are just doing your job. Of all the annoyances on LinkedIn, I have the most respect for these people as they are just doing their job. Nevertheless, I wish it could be less irritating.
Someone connects with you and they look ok, they work in the area you do, so you accept. Ouch, that was the wrong move as accepting this gives permission to not one, but umpteen, follow on e-mails about how their services would be tantamount to your or your organisation’s success.
The rigour with which this is executed reminds me of a documentary I once saw about charities aggressively pursuing the elderly. When someone says – in a very polite way – that they are not interested and even go as far as giving you a reason for it, let it go. Maybe I should start ghosting you …
8. The over-sharer
My favourite posts are about interesting topics, and especially people who have the guts to have a point of view. I may disagree, but kudos to you for giving it a go. Less palatable are posts that get a bit too personal. Let me explain. I know it is hard out there, I live it every day. My empathy has no bounds when it comes to good people dealing with hardship. I do find it a tad irritating when we start over-sharing: today, after 8 years, 3 months, 2 weeks and 6 days, I was made redundant and it is hard to deal with it. Or, I had this interview at Amazon and I really blew it.
I am not saying you should not share this, but share it with your friends and family and not the world. It’s a bit like reverse Instagram where we spend all our time handpicking (and airbrushing) our best pictures. Suddenly it has become cool to fail, and it has become a likeable thing to share misery. To all the people liking these things, what are you really liking? Schadenfreude or the fact it isn’t you? To the person sharing, don’t let a weak moment influence you to post something you may later regret.
9. The painfully confused
I am willing to give this group the benefit of the doubt and I will start from the hypothesis that when someone is consumed with joy, common sense does not always prevail. I am truly happy for you that you had a baby, or that you got married, or that you have been married for 10 years. All fantastic life achievements, that have absolutely no place on a professional business networking site. Do you know – by means of the beauty of likes – how many strangers are looking at pictures of your baby and wife who don’t even have a clue why this pops up on their feed?
Please use a closed and private network for these. Instagram or WhatsApp are super. Facebook and Snapchat could do the trick. But LinkedIn? Don’t think so.
10. People like me
Yes, you read that correctly, I think I am particularly annoying. I really have no reason to be on LinkedIn. I have never found a job using LinkedIn. I have never connected with random strangers who then became my intellectual soulmates riding off into an Ian McKellen-Patrick Stewart bromance. So apart from venting some of my thoughts, I do not give much, nor do I get much back.
But it is still strangely addictive to pretend you can put a couple of sentences together. It is even more fun when people like something or comment. But let’s face it, I’m not exactly JK Rowling in the making and most of the things I write about are things I care about.
Social media is still on a journey trying to figure out what it will become and I believe that one day we may get there.
Ed Snowden said it beautifully:
"The internet has the power to one day make all people on earth understand each other."
Until then, we’re going to have to annoy each other a bit longer.