I belong to seven or eight LinkedIn groups -- for PR people, marketing people, legal marketers, etc. -- and every week I get an email digest of discussions and job postings from each of those groups. And some of those digests have as many as 60 different items of varying levels of relevance.
I just spent 30 minutes going through this week's batch (my new time management solution is to send them all to my spam folder and read them at once), sifting through the spam and sales posts (approximately 60%), the esoteric discussions on what we can do to rehabilitate the image of PR or whether PR and media relations are the same thing or if communications should report to HR, etc. (10%), the job offerings in India and London (10%), the stuff that's not really relevant to me (18%) ... all to find the small handful of useful articles and information (2%). That's a pretty heavy chaff-to-grain ratio.
I think on one level there's a fear people have of being out of touch with the industry, and perhaps LinkedIn gives them a quick idea of what's going on. On the other hand, I think it creates unnecessary panic, blowing things out of proportion like the 24-hour news channels do. For a time probably two thirds to three quarters of discussions were either about Search Engine Optimization or Social Media, and the very, very important boats that everyone risks missing by not devoting all of their attention to these two areas.
Bleh! I think I'm going to opt out of a few. I've found in the past few months how much easier, and more satisfying it is, to focus mainly on regular old face-to-face communication. I just had two fantastic meetings this week with people who have some great experience and are doing some really exiting things with their careers. It's really inspiring. And they're putting me in touch with multiple contacts of theirs.
Altogether since I stepped things up at the beginning of the year, I've reached out to about 20 new people, re-engaged with another 15 or so and sat down with a dozen face-t0-face. Not too bad -- that's a couple of contacts a week. I can probably step it up even more.
But anyway, it's going really, really well. I was trying this last year but the climate was just so bad. People seem much more positive now. Opportunities seem to be opening up at a lot of places -- both freelance and full-time. And it's just good to be out there. It keeps you on your toes, gives you some good perspective, and it's fun. It's such a supportive community.