Vorsprung Durch Technik?

A LinkedIn automated suggestion has created a buzz across Germany over the last 48 hours.

On Wednesday Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board at Daimler and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, shared on LinkedIn a suggestion for new employment that the social network had suggested he pursue:

While this update has led to much mirth, there is a serious point to be made.

My friend and speaking colleague Niels Brabandt, who shared this story with me, asked me whether automated networking such as this should be stopped. He told me that this story is all over Germany and the reputation of the network has been damaged as a result.

I’m sure that LinkedIn are quite capable of defending themselves. For every plainly inappropriate suggestion like this they are bound to be able to point to many success stories where people have been pointed to valuable opportunities they may otherwise have missed. And LinkedIn, like all social networks, only flourish by encouraging their members to engage more with the network.

The duty is on us, as individuals, to take these suggestions with a pinch of salt and not just respond to them automatically. I get so many connection requests from strangers whose only reason for sending the request seems to be “LinkedIn suggested you”. We need to stop letting social networking codes do our thinking for us.

If LinkedIn, Facebook or any other social network makes suggestions, research them and consider them before blindly following their lead. If you take this approach, the automated prompts might provide you with additional value in your networking. The alternative is to give up thinking for yourself.

That’s not exactly a step forward!