What Does Bragging on LinkedIn Actually Achieve?
This morning, like almost all weekday mornings, I began my daily communications swoop.
It goes something like this and happens about once every three hours between the time I wake up and the time I go to sleep:
- Check inbox
- Check phone
- Check WhatsApp
- Check Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn
- Check Google News to make sure a world war hasn’t been declared.
Without question, the part of this swoop which I enjoy the least is checking LinkedIn.
Like a quiet majority, I think, I use LinkedIn as a sort of virtual Rolodex. I subtly pitch for work by adding professional contacts that might require my writing services. Sometimes, marketing and content managers come to me to do the same. I share whatever I think is worth sharing with a professional audience through my feed.
But the feed is precisely what I take the most issue with.
This morning, like most mornings, I hadn’t spent more than 20 seconds scrolling when I came across a post that made my eyes pull skywards.
Most criticism of LinkedIn on other social networks focuses on decrying what people term ‘humblebrags’. But personally, I can never quite manage to find the humility to which people who use this description are presumably referring.
The connection, who does not work in my industry, was recently named on a newspaper list highlighting his growing professional stature. Wow! I’m being intentionally sparse with the details here. The post essentially announced his recipient of the award and was of course embellished with a glossy newspaper photo.
If you’re a regular LinkedIn user, then I think you probably know the type of thing I’m describing without me needing to add details. Here’s why I take issue with it. And a guideline I would suggest for non-obnoxious usage of this professionally-oriented social network.
Ask Yourself: Might My Average Connection Care About This Post?
Lest this post be mistaken for a jealous tirade, please, dear reader, trust that I couldn’t care less about the fact that my LinkedIn contact was named on a newspaper list. Really. Not one bit.
Moreover, I derive absolutely no value from the influx of this information to my life. No insight has been shared that might enrich my life or make me professionally more proficient. My contact was named on a newspaper list. And what else is new in the world?
But this post got me thinking about a couple of things, so in a sense I’m glad that I came across it:
a) Whether I would share my own achievement if I were in the poster’s shoes? (Sadly, no newspapers are listing me on rising star lists, but I do achieve small successes from time to time)
b) What’s worth sharing on LinkedIn. And what isn’t?
Will Readers Derive Value?
Where I have traditionally drawn the line — and where I will continue to and I offer it here as a suggestion for a potential yardstick for those interested in communicating in a way that doesn’t just spread irritation— is whether or not there is a reasonable chance that your average reader might derive information from the post that I wish to share. (Bear in mind that, currently, my average LinkedIn engagement is almost zero. So to state that I don’t get the network would be a massive understatement.)
Here’s a real world example.
I’m currently closing in on passing my first cloud computing certification (yes, it’s taken a while, I realize). So when I saw my connection’s post I asked myself: when I finally pass the certification, hopefully in the coming weeks, will I share it on LinkedIn? It feels like it’s almost de rigeur to do so. I come across “I passed my AWS certification, here’s my credential link” posts almost every day, after all.
And there and then, in the duration of about one second, I decided that I wouldn’t.
Because while it will undoubtedly be a nice add-on to my resume, it’s neither something that my present nor prospective clients really need to have blasted at them. I’ll list it on my resume. And if they’re sufficiently interested in getting to know me and what I know about, they can find that information there. It won’t add value. So why share it?
On the 19th of this month, my first contributed article to the Entrepreneur.com Leadership Network is scheduled for publication.
On the contrary, this I will be sharing publicly. Why? Because I wouldn’t have written the article if I didn’t at least hope that the insights it contains might add value to somebody. And those people might be lurking in my network.
LinkedIn bragging is annoying. It gets deeply under my skin and I suspect that of many. It operates according to the crudest of advertising logic. That if one has a captive audience of feed-viewers and no limits upon how often one can promulgate a post, that one may as well post everything which might make one seem attractive to potential employers. More brags, more impressions, more wins. It’s a logic which, it seems to me, most posters sadly subscribe to.
I humbly submit that one can rise about this self-promotional race to the bottom — because that’s truly what it is — by focusing on whether the contents of one’s post is likely to add value to one’s network.
If that question can be answered in the affirmative, then those who are not remotely interested in what you have to share are collateral damage. But at least you inflicted irritation for a reason and to send a message worth sending to at least part of your network.
To state the obvious: this probably isn’t the best strategy to follow if you’re looking to get ahead on LinkedIn at any cost.
But if you want to avoid adding more bragging and gloating to a social network and world already bathing in it, then perhaps it might be worth considering.