LinkedIn: yea or nay?

Jun 04 2013 Published by under Scientific Mentoring, Tribe of Science

It's been a few years but I still have about the same approach to LinkedIn. I'm on there mostly for the networking that might extend to my trainees and other junior scientists in the field. I don't find it that useful for me in any direct sense.

How about you, Dear Reader*?

UPDATE 06/05/2013: Arlenna points to a page on creepy LinkedIn behavior and a privacy setting you might want to check.

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*and PhysioProf

45 responses so far

  • meshugena313 says:

    I've occasionally used linkedin to contact someone who's email address had changed and I didn't have their updated contact info, haven't used it otherwise. My wife, who is an attorney, finds it much more useful for professional networking.

    I will say their new "feature" of endorsements drives me insane, as random (non-scientist) people "endorse" me for arbitrary scientific skills. I finally turned that off.

    When my startup runs out and I can't break out of the scored-but-not-funded grant land, then I may find linkedin more useful... ugh.

  • rs says:

    oh, I didn't know you could turn off "endorsement". Great idea. I also don't find it much useful at the moment, but if none of my grant works, then maybe...

  • eeke says:

    I find that my colleagues in the private sector use it a lot more than my academic colleagues - at least in terms of number of connections (by >10 fold). One person who had lost touch found me through this site, so it doesn't hurt to keep the account.

  • Dr Becca says:

    YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!!

  • Jekka says:

    Husband got current job at Genentech by being head-hunted on LinkedIn. No idea how it serves academics though. For me it's just a nostalgia tool a la Facebook, for seeing what past colleagues (who aren't in PubMed) are up to.

  • Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    My gripe is the people who keep asking me to link to them, or inviting me to join.

    I'm RETIRED. I don't want to network with anyone!

  • sara says:

    I'm a postdoc, and while I'd like a job in academia, I realize that I might not get one so I keep linked-in up-to-date for that purpose. Since I'm open to jobs in industry, I like to keep tabs on what is available just in case a really great opportunity pops up. It can't hurt, right? I look at the local real estate market (buy a house on a postdoc salary? pfft) for the same reason 🙂

    Also, it's nice to follow where previous colleagues have ended up.

  • Terry says:

    I don't get the point of it, in academia. I have it up because it was expected of me once or twice, but I otherwise ignore it.

    I have noticed that some people use this as a source of information about me, like if I'm giving an outreach talk to a community group. Once a lengthy introduction about me was based all on what they found on linkedin, which wasn't really representative. So, I try to make sure it's not entirely off base.

    I also have had a little consulting work on the side. Linkedin doesn't hurt, in that respect.

  • Ola says:

    To me, it's just Facebook with a thin veneer of respectability. I don't use FB either (deleted my account 2 years ago). If you're job-hunting then maybe it's useful, but for everyday contact and keeping up with gossip, there are plenty of other options that don't involve divulging personal information and connections.

    It seems that for academics, reputation is built on real-world events, and white-washing on social media just doesn't cut it. Being on LinkedIn for longer doesn't necessarily buy you more credibility - a CV of someone on LinkedIn for 5 years with a big network is going to be no more valuable to a head hunter than that of someone who just joined, if the skill-sets are the same. It's not like a lab' website or Twitter presence or blog, where it takes time to build an audience and/or credibility (whatever that means these days). If you need a job just go on LinkedIn and within a couple days you can connect with the people necessary for your job search. If the LinkedIn page doesn't link-out to other web presences (like your faculty page at your institution), that's e suspicious. The head-hunter will not care how old your profile is on LnkedIn, but they will care if the information provided therein cannot be independently verified.

    Now if I could just find a way to opt out of all those frickin' ResearchGate emails...

  • Elsa says:

    New PI here. I've been a lukewarm LinkedIn member because I thought it was more relevant to industry. Lately I've been re-thinking that assumption. I've observed PIs a few years ahead of me (i.e. just receiving tenure) use it rather effectively to post updates on new publications or to generate interest in a session they're chairing.

  • Grumble says:

    I'm not even on Facebook. I'm certainly not on Twitter. Why would I be on LinkedIn?

    Within academia, the people who should know about you and your work will learn about it through other means (like, for instance, PubMed), and being on LinkedIn is not going to accelerate the process.

    If you're thinking of leaving academia, then it makes sense to take advantage of all the gizmos out there that academia has no use for.

  • lp2 says:

    For me, LinkedIn fulfils the role of a business card drawer, helping to log a contact with people I've had at least a mutually pleasant / beneficial chat with. I've found it useful for remembering several years later where exactly I'd met the person and why I know them.

  • Industry Scientist says:

    It's incredibly useful in industry for two reasons:

    1) It's puts your CV with a headshot at the top of a Google search for you. In academia, you might have a university lab webpage which serves this purpose, but in industry this is incredibly helpful as company sites don't generally promote the scientists.

    2) There are no grant review committees in which to network, so LI helps to fill that gap. Yes, you still go to meetings, but it's simply not as important to do so as in academia.

    I also get CVs from a lot of grad students/postdocs looking for industry jobs or advice. Have put a few of the more promising CVs aside for future reference or forwarded them onto colleagues.

  • Bashir says:

    It has be useful in some sense for me. I am linked to a lot of college & grad school friends who are outside of academia and science. I've looked at them, and their links(?) to get a sense of other opportunities. I have a few people that it might be worth cold emailing if and when I get serious about a non-science career. We'll see how that turns out.

  • DrLizzyMoore says:

    I'm an ambivalent member. I never use it, except to 'accept' invitations to other people's networks. One time, someone left a message for me that I didn't see for months. I never check it. Nor do I seek people to add to my 'network'.

    Honestly, I have no idea what the point of it is. I also can't believe that I ever signed up for it to begin with. According to an alert in my gmail this morning, someone endorsed me for some science skillz. I don't even know what that means.

    I have no idea why I don't delete the account-maybe because I fear that I might need those connections someday? Ugh.

  • chall says:

    It's been useful for me while getting information about new jobs out there as well as 'networking' with people (a little like another commentator mentions that when you've met someone professionally you can 'friend them on linkedin" and then access their contacts too).

    It was also helpful looking for new jobs when screening if I knew anyone who knew anyone at the new company - 'easier introduction' and I have gotten contacted from headhunters/professional questions from people who I otherwise wouldn't have contacted/met.

    I don't know about the endorsemnt though, thinking about turning it off, especially since people who have no idea about my research 'endorse me' for things they don't know anything about.

  • miko says:

    There are a LOT of postdocs in my field on LinkedIn and pretty much zero PIs.

  • Heavy says:

    I'm on there, not sure why, and refuse all links. Most requests are from friends not in research/academia, not sure why I would want to link with them.

  • Jonathan says:

    I have found the only actual value in LinkedIn is as a data source for a vizify graphical bio: https://www.vizify.com/jonathan-gitlin

  • Dave says:

    I don't get it.

  • meshugena313 says:

    Sweet, I like vizify, just set it up. Not sure why all the h8 for social networks. Its just like grantsmanship, selling yourself and your ideas. What's wrong with a bit of advertising? You never know who's buying...

  • meshugena313 says:

    And I have a number of departmental colleagues (PIs) who are on linkedin, including a few "old timers". No reason to completely disregard linkedin b/c it appears to have more value for industry. Although if you are one to hate facebook, I guess linkedin won't be any better.

  • Dr. Noncoding Arenay says:

    I resisted invitations for a long time (during its early days) because I thought it was useless. Then I finally joined and I enjoy it now. I think it has several benefits for young scientists like me, such as:

    1) Staying up to date on what your colleagues or ex-classmates are doing and possibly identifying collaboration opportunities.

    2) I have added my LinkedIn url to my CV so that those who are interested can click to get more detailed information on particular aspects of my (truncated) CV. Its sort of an extended CV.

    3) Keeping a door open for recruiters to access just in case an interesting opportunity comes knocking.

    As other have mentioned, I dislike non-scientific people endorsing me for scientific skills that they surely have no clue about (it undermines the purpose of that feature) and I dislike friends adding me on it as if it were Facebook. Its meant to be a professional network, not a friendship network.

  • Grumble says:

    "why all the h8 for social networks"

    Because when you view science as a vocation, not a job, you don't want to bother with selling yourself. Yes, it's important to do so, and to be successful you have to do it, but at the moment social media isn't the way it's done. So someone who spends more time thinking about science than about his/her job will be inclined to do the easiest, automatic kind of networking available - as someone above mentioned, chatting at meetings and study sections seems to do the trick. Why waste time with more, especially when there's no clear evidence that it can actually benefit you, at least within academia?

  • LinkedIn can sucke my fucken nuttesacke.

  • Genomic Repairman says:

    I do it because I'm interested in industry and keep up with folks who work in industry and regulatory bodies that don't otherwise have official webpages.

  • John says:

    Even for a PI that doesn't have any interest in industry or other non-academia options, it can be useful from a mentoring point of view. I have lots of former students, postdocs and colleagues who went on to do all sorts of different things, and I have current students, postdocs, etc... who are considering careers outside of academia. Being able to point them at someone who went that path or who can give them real information on a particular company or line of work can be useful.

    It doesn't come up all that often, but you don't have to be a terribly active linkedin user to get a decent pool of contacts in a wide range of areas that may just come in useful for someone you know whose looking to make a change.

  • meshugena313 says:

    @Grumble - I think that's a rather quaint distinction between a "vocation" and a "job". I fucking love science, but a lot of the thrill is formulating a novel hypothesis and proving it. But no one would know about it unless its "sold" in a paper or grant or talk. So of course it's critical to sell yourself. Social networks are just a different form of the "automatic" kind of networking you mention. That said, chatting in person is definitely superior for the depth of the connection.

  • anonymous postdoc says:

    My favorite LinkedIn lol was when it asked me to endorse a senior member of ACNP for pharmacology. "Does Prestigious Scientist know Pharmacology?"

  • Crystal Voodoo says:

    I just attended an alternative career fair that should have been advertised as a "how to stalk people on LinkedIn" fair. There may be a couple sketches of torching a LinkedIn logo effigy in my program notes.

  • arlenna says:

    I've found ResearchGate to be the LinkedIn of academics. More and more of my colleagues and coauthors keep turning up there (it sends notifications when those kinds of things happen), and it reports the number of times (and institutions of) people look at your profile and/or download your papers (if you have them available). It calculates some kind of sorta lame "score" which increases with the impact factor of your publications and the number of points the people who "follow" you have, which I think is kind of dumb but seems to make people feel cool.

  • Grumble says:

    @meshugena313
    "no one would know about it unless its "sold" in a paper or grant or talk"
    Exactly. This is why we don't need LinkedIn and Facebook to market ourselves. We have papers and talks.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    It definitely seems to be more of a thing in industry compared with academia.

    I don't even remember signing up, but I must have because I occasionally get LinkedIn updates from a graduate student who I taught in one class 5 years ago. Apparently she puts everyone she comes into contact with for any reason in her LinkIn network.

  • Overall, meh. But it is useful to have a self-updating address book.

  • arlenna says:

    you know what, though, Linkedin does some creepy inbox trawling and suggests connections that nobody should know I have, like my work email Linkedin and my blog email account. I don't even know how it would do that, my blog account is not connected to my Linkedin at all. I am not strictly pseudonymous, but people may want to watch out...

  • arlenna says:

    That didn't really make any sense, sorry, one handed typing while eating dinner. What I mean is that I will get spurts of LinkedIn requests all at once from people who have contacted me only as Arlenna through my blog address, and for whom there is no reason they should know my real name. It's almost like it has a script that goes and pokes around in any windows you have open, even e.g. Gmail open in your browser, and harvests email addresses to push to your LinkedIn account to suggest as contacts.

  • drugmonkey says:

    How do you know it is trawling your email rather than doing the connections of connections thing? All it takes is for you to be connected to one person who is connected to those who you think of as your bloggy people...

  • arlenna says:

    One of the people who sent me a contact request (which I accepted because I was okay with that person becoming a contact) was a guest blogger with whom I emailed a couple of times through my blog Gmail, and I have never connected my blog Gmail with my LinkedIn account. I only have one bloggy peep connected to me through LinkedIn. That person is not connected to the guest blogger. After reading a post by somebody on this topic:

    [http://www.interactually.com/linkedin-creepiest-social-network/]

    I noticed two things in my settings: In the groups/companies/information tab the writer mentioned, “Manage settings for LinkedIn plugins on third party sites” had the “Yes, allow LinkedIn to receive information about my visits to pages that use LinkedIn plugins” box checked. So did the "Data sharing with third-party applications" in the "Yes, share my data with third party applications" box.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Interesting tips. I've just had to turn off said data sharing myself..never noticed it though.

  • arlenna says:

    I just did a little more scrolling through my own "People you may know" list, and it had several more people who were only 3rd degree connections (which, I've noticed, pretty much every human being in academia is to me) who I have only ever corresponded with through my blog Gmail account. Also several 3rd degree-ers who I have only ever exchanged 1-2 emails with (or even just received emails from). And also someone who I have never contacted but who is a software engineer for Sittercity.com, which I signed up for with my work email account. I double checked, and nope, I have never and do not now allow LinkedIn access to my contacts list, so where the F*** is it getting these linkages?

  • I noticed two things in my settings: In the groups/companies/information tab the writer mentioned, “Manage settings for LinkedIn plugins on third party sites” had the “Yes, allow LinkedIn to receive information about my visits to pages that use LinkedIn plugins” box checked. So did the "Data sharing with third-party applications" in the "Yes, share my data with third party applications" box.

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Reason number eleventeen fuckjillion kabillion to never ever putz around with "social networking apps" or whatever the fucken fucke these goddamn motherfucken asshole corporations that sell your private life to advertisers are calling that fucken shitte this week.

  • And just to be clear on how fucken horrendous this fucken shitte is, the combination of those two settings means that you have "agreed" that every time you visit any Web site anywhere on the Internet that has a linkedin plugin, every single fucken thing you do on those Web sites--what you look at, click on, and type in--is given to linkedin to do with whatever they want, and they can also then sell all that fucken information to any fucken third party they goddamn feel like. Nice.

  • Ola says:

    @CPP 100% agree.
    Private browsing is your friend. Never, ever, store anything (passwords, form data etc.) in the browser. Never ever allow iOS to "use your location". Never log-in to a 3rd party website using your FB/LI/G+/Twit or whatever social account. Always use 2-factor authentication if available, and the https-everywhere plug-in. If you're using the same password for more than one account, or linking your accounts in any way, you're screwed...
    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/11/ff-mat-honan-password-hacker/

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