I got an email yesterday from a friend whom I had invited to be one of my connections on LinkedIn. The essence of her question was: why?
And the essence of my answer was: I don’t know, but I’ve been sitting on the sidelines all my life acting like I’m in control when all I’ve been doing is surviving, not living. Signing up for LinkedIn isn’t exactly bungee jumping, but it’s a small step in the right direction.
I understand her reluctance, though. She’s like a lot of people who watch others jump from trend to trend, and sign on only to the sure things.
It took me a couple of years – and a career shift – to convince me of the need for a cell phone. I waited until three years ago to start my own website.
Standoffishness is a family heirloom. My buddies buddies got to stay out ’til midnight; I had to be in at 10:30. The message was “We’re different,” and there’s something to be said for not going along with the lowing herd.
The rest of the story, however, is that mine was a joyless and stressful childhood. We may have been different, but I was miserable. Holding back and isolating was how I survived.
Now – and I must remind myself of this for the rest of my days – I have other choices. Holding back and isolation no longer represent safety. They are an invitation to sanctioned insanity – the random soundtrack of the untamed mind.
Now when I feel that craziness rising, I call friends who have been there, too, and understand.
In that same spirit, I signed up with LinkedIn because someone asked me to be a connection. But I filled in the bare minimum on my profile – just 15% — as if it were wasting away from a lingering disease.
Recently, however, I filled in the work and education portions, and got a recommendation. Then I asked a number of people to be my connections, mainly because that 15% was bugging me. It reminded me of my father’s lectures about how I was underachieving.
So now my profile is a robust 90%. I’ve got 32 connections who have 2200 connections and a total network of 547,600 people, which is mind-bending.
I re-connected with some folks I hadn’t heard from in years, which is cool, but that network stuns me. I can send out a query and get coverage that is unimaginable in any other way.
Giving Up Control
In particular, I’m looking for websites with good writing, not the usual “My hamster loves Cheerios” drivel.
Finding some good sites would be helpful, but for me the greatest benefit is taking the chance – no longer holding back and trying to be in control.
Even if it doesn’t work out, I’m pretty sure it won’t be fatal.
Although, come to think of it, that might make an interesting screenplay – a social networking version of “Fatal Attraction” ….