Leaving LinkedIn? Try One of These Instead
Microsoft announced on June 13, 2016, that it will buy LinkedIn, the professional and career social network. Too bad that was a Monday and not a Friday the 13th; the irony would have been better. Why did Microsoft buy LinkedIn, and what will they do with it? If this news makes you want to cancel your LinkedIn account, consider these alternatives…
Alternatives To LinkedIn
Microsoft intends to pay $26.2 billion for a social network that many members absolutely despise. LinkedIn leaked 100 million members’ email addresses and passwords, which led to hacks of some high-profile Twitter accounts. (If you used the same password there as on other online accounts, those could be breached as well. See BREACH - Be Careful of Password Resets)
LinkedIn settled a class action lawsuit filed by members over its aggressive spamming of members, paying $13 million. Another lawsuit charges LinkedIn with impersonating its members to recruit non-members; the infamous phrase, “"Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" often goes out to a member’s contacts in his/her name, without his/her explicit permission. Several of my acquaintances won’t have anything to do with LinkedIn.
“To quote Obi-Wan Kenobe, ‘You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy’ than LinkedIn’s HQ,” says my friend, Dave in Denver, who canceled his LinkedIn membership after five years.
“They played fast and loose with my identity, prompting many of my business contacts to say they would have to block my email address if LinkedIn solicitations didn’t stop. They nickel-and-dime members at every turn, on top of charging $40 a month for a useful set of networking tools.
“The daily barrage of badly written, facile career articles was a nuisance, and unsubscribing did not unsubscribe me. Their customer service email address is a black hole; requests for help are rarely answered, and when they are the boilerplate answer consists of links to help files that I’d already told LinkedIn don’t help.
“All - not most, ALL - of the contacts I received from other members were either scams, phish, or a recruiter who didn’t bother to read my qualifications and requirements; ‘It says right there I won’t relocate. If I knew the Python programming language, I’d have mentioned it.’ For me, LinkedIn was worse than a waste of time; it was a significant daily aggravation.”
Why Does Microsoft Want LinkedIn?
So why would Microsoft want LinkedIn, never mind dropping $26.2 billion to get it? The answer, of course, is data. And data equals money. Despite its loathesome reputation, LinkedIn is projected to earn over $1 billion this year. An article published on TheVerge.com explains how:
“Those revenues come from recruiters, who pay to get full access to your profile and send you messages, and salespeople, who pay to send messages to leads. The group of people who value using LinkedIn seems to be concentrated almost entirely in those two groups.”
That’s right; LinkedIn members have been duped into becoming prey for salespeople. (Recruiters are salespeople who sell jobs to people.) It was never about person-to-person career networking.
LinkedIn’s demographics are extremely attractive to marketers; most are employed in high-paying careers, and are in their prime buying age range. Microsoft can put the deep data that members post on their profiles to work. LinkedIn was founded in 2003, a year before Facebook. It is by far the largest work-related networking site with over 433 million members, a quarter of whom log in at least monthly.
Every time Microsoft makes a high-profile acquisition, pundits predict that it will be ruined or killed. The tech giant has acquired hundreds of smaller firms, sometimes merging their wares with their own; sometimes quietly smothering a competing technology in favor of their own solution. Most people consider PowerPoint, Hotmail, Minecraft and Skype success stories. WebTV, Yammer and Nokia, not so much.
Other Professional Networking Sites
But if you are concerned about what Microsoft might do with (or to) LinkedIn, it's not the only game in career networking. Here are several such sites, each smaller but more member-oriented than LinkedIn:
Xing: was founded in 2006, and has a small but sterling reputation. It’s much more community-oriented than LinkedIn, offering features that will be familiar to Facebook members. Form a group, host an event, start a discussion, help people help each other - that’s what social networking is supposed to be, and Xing hasn’t lost that vision.
Beyond: is a job-search and career-networking site that claims over 50 million members. Here you can find your “talent community,” e. g., “healthcare professionals,” and network with your peers. You can also search job postings, toss your resume’ into the pot, and commiserate publicly or privately with others in your kind of horrible, bad, no-good job.
YouJoin: lets you add multimedia to your professional profile, hopefully making it more eye-catching to potential employers. YouJoin also offers “Semi-Public” profiles; only viewers who have a PIN you provide can view everything about you, the rest see only what you want them to see.
Zerply: is for media and entertainment professionals, including engineers and managers from the film, game, and virtual reality sectors. Here they can network with each other to find projects or people to work on them. Zerply is “by invitation only;” you can apply for membership, but someone will decide whether you get a free membership (for qualified industry members), a paid membership (for those who make money off qualified industry members), or no membership.
EFactor: has only 1.9 million members, who are supposed to be entrepreneurs intensely interested in growing their businesses and networking with like-minded go-getters. But registration is free, so you will see some prank profiles. EFactor offers public and private messaging, searchable profiles, and other social network features.
Don't Fall into This Honey Pot
Elixio: This one is here as a warning; please, do not register your real identity data here! Elixio’s home page oozes elitism; it’s only for “the world’s top influencers,” you know. The photos there look like they were torn from a fashion magazine. One does not simply “register” on Elixio; one must “apply for membership.” Presumably, someone then somberly considers whether you measure up to Elixio’s standards.
But the application form collects only basic data that is of interest to direct marketers: name, occupation, title, mailing address, email address, phone number. It does not ask for any details about your career, not even how long you’ve held your present job. And wait… it turns out anyone can get instant access, by filling out the form with bogus data. Elixio doesn't even verify your email address or check to see if any of the credentials you supply are valid.
I’ll bet the mortgage that Elixio is just a “honey-pot” set out by someone who sells contacts for a living. And I'm pretty sure that a large percentage of the 10 million members they claim are either bogus or inactive. When I searched for profiles in various locations and industries, almost all of the dozen or so that I browsed showed a membership date of 2007, with no activity since.
There are a lot of such scams online because “career networking” implies people who are desperately seeking new employment. Desperate people make mistakes like trusting a website they’re never heard of with their personal data. Don’t be desperate.
Will you continue to use LinkedIn, or look for an alternative that offers career and professional networking tools? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 27 Jun 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Leaving LinkedIn? Try One of These Instead (Posted: 27 Jun 2016)
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