The 1%…

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Last year when people were occupying anything they could pitch a tent near we started hearing a lot about the 1%… the ones who control all of the wealth, the ones everyone else was supposed to be supported by.  I did some quick calculations after checking my banks account and credit card statements and realized I was safe: I may be comfortable, but by no means am I wealthy; in fact beyond this blog I would be hard pressed to name anything that I control when I am not behind the wheel of my car (including my wife, kids, and dogs).  I was doomed to live my life as part of the 99%, albeit the part of that fraction that supports himself and doesn’t want a hand-out from anyone.

So this morning – it was this morning as I type, which means it will likely be yesterday when this article is published and possibly even last week by the time you read it – I was thrilled to receive an e-mail from LinkedIn congratulating me that my profile was among the top 1% viewed in 2012.

For a few minutes I was thrilled!  How exciting to be among the top one percent! And then the math kicked in…

1. One percent of two hundred million is still two million.  Okay, so my profile is among the top two million.  If I was one of the two million best basketball players in the world I still wouldn’t make the NBA.  In fact, if I was in the top one percent best basketball players I still wouldn’t make the cut.

2. Before my e-mail came in I saw tweets and Facebook posts from at least thirty friends saying they had received the same e-mail.  Now I know I have some great friends, but that is a bit of a coincidence, isn’t it?

3. Three hundred or thirty thousand people can view my profile and then move on… that number is irrelevant to me.  As my old friend Sigmund Marcus used to say, Show me da money! (Sorry Tom and Cuba, Sigmund said it before I saw your movie)  My profile can get a single view by a headhunter who has a great opportunity for me, or  y a potential client who has a great consulting mandate, and that number means something.  The number of people who simply looked at it means… nothing.  Oh sure, the more people who see my profile the higher the chances that I will speak to a hiring manager or CIO with a consulting mandate, but I learned a long time ago that volume does not equal quality.

I saw another interesting statistic today, quoted by a spokesperson for LinkedIn who is also a career coach.  She was quoted saying that when building your profile you should aim for 50 contacts, and to remember that LinkedIn is not Facebook… your contacts on LinkedIn should be people that you can pick up the phone and call for a professional (career-related) favour… and not just people you know.  The last time I checked I had over eleven hundred contacts… and I admit that I do not remember who many of them are.  Many are likely people who attended a class or a seminar that I gave, others are contacts of my contacts.  Either way, I do not consider my contact list impressive… I feel I should spend some time trying to cull it when I have a moment free.

I suppose a thousand contacts is a good way to get into the top 1% but in the end it doesn’t mean anything.  Maintaining a LinkedIn profile that is professional and impressive means that when someone looking for someone with your talents does see it they will like what they see… but the sheer numbers are meaningless.  Like anything else you should focus on quality, not quantity.  If you do that, then you are in the top 1% in my books already! Congratulations.

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