Microsoft LinkedIn: Opting and Gigging

February 25, 2021

Microsoft LinkedIn has determined that its millions of job seekers, consultants, and résumé miners can become gig workers. “LinkedIn Is Building a Gig Marketplace” asserts:

LinkedIn is developing a freelance work marketplace that could rival fast-growing gig sites Fiverr and Upwork. The two-sided marketplace will connect freelance service providers with clients in need of temporary workers for one-off projects. Like Fiverr and Upwork, it would focus on knowledge-based work that can be done remotely online…

How long has Microsoft LinkedIn been contemplating this shift? One date offered in the article is 2019. That’s when LinkedIn acquired UpCounsel. The idea is that when one needs a lawyer, one uses a legal version of Match.com. Very me-too. Thomson Reuters offers a service called FindLaw.com, which has been available since the early 2000s. But good ideas take time to gestate. This is not a me too knock off of TikTok which has inspired Facebook and Google innovation. LinkedIn innovated with ProFinder. This is a way for LinkedIn members to find “professionals.”

Sounds good, right?

Writer Joan Westenberg is over LinkedIn, and advises us we would all be better without it. The Next Web posts, “Delete LinkedIn—You’ll Have Zero F****ing Regrets.” After years of enduring countless messages from those who want to sell her something, she finally deleted her LinkedIn account. Not only did the platform fail to provide her any professional benefits, she was also disheartened by the superficial relationships with her hundreds of contacts. (At least this platform does not call them “friends.”)

Having had some success at sales for her business, Westenberg has observed that the way to sell to someone is to build a real relationship with them. Her favorite way to do so is to offer help with no agenda, to demonstrate her products have value. She writes:

“That is the antithesis of LinkedIn. Where people send you off-brand and clumsy sales pitches at best — or at worst, scrape your details for scalable and utterly useless outbound campaigns. They send pitch decks in the same breath that they introduce themselves for the first time. They want you to buy with no reason why. LinkedIn feels less like a platform for selling, and more like a platform for being sold to. A LinkedIn message is the 2020s equivalent of a cold sales call. You dread it. You hate it. You just don’t want to deal with it. … I would rather focus my attention on platforms where I know people have come to genuinely research, interact, learn and consume. Quora. Angel List. Dribble. Medium. Substack. And yes, Twitter. And I would rather remove the false sense of accomplishment we get from engaging on LinkedIn, where we log into a landfill of utter [excrement] several times a day and feel like we’ve done our bit of networking and growing, with no evidence to support that belief.”

Westenberg advises others to join her in ditching the platform. All we will lose, she concludes, are the vanity metrics of clicks, likes, shares, and comments, all of which provide nothing of value. Hmm. I for one have never gotten a job through the platform, but I do know someone who has. Then there are all the professional courses the platform acquired when it snapped up Lynda.com in 2015, many of which are quite helpful. I suppose each user must weigh the site’s role in their professional lives for themselves, but on this point I agree—LinkedIn is not fundamental to professional success.

Cynthia Murrell, February 25, 2021

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