I think my last few postings have gotten a little earnest and a bit self-regarding. My normally caustic rants are beginning to read like a bitter Daily Mail columnist and who really wants to hear about my medical condition for heaven’s sake? So I’m going to try and write with a little more bite and irreverence and hopefully a bit more fun. First up it’s a feature on a rather popular networking platform.
Well I say popular but I recently got a message from my old friend and ex-boss from Cellnet days, BMc, announcing that he’d had enough of the endless solicitations to upgrade or to join useless groups and was leaving the business network LinkedIn. I kind of know what he means. It promises all kinds of opportunities for people in business – contacts, openings, jobs, referrals, access, backgrounds etc. But in my experience unless you’re an annoying pestering little networking ferret, it doesn’t really offer very much. Of course I might not be using it optimally – let’s face it I’m pretty useless at social media in all its forms. But in 7 years I don’t think I’ve had 1p’s worth of measureable business value from being connected. That is on a practical level but in human terms I’ve had hours of free entertainment from browsing through LinkedIn.
I spent over 30 years in corporate life and the one thing that used to drive me nuts was the dreadful business management jargon used both verbally and especially scripted in internal comm’s announcements, performance and productivity reports, minutes of meetings, annual appraisals and the like. Now this isn’t a new topic of course; millions of words have been written about the worst examples of corporate speak. I think I might have resorted to the odd meaningless statement about ‘actioning key deliverables to primary stakeholders going forward’ on occasions. But only when the fruit was low-hanging of course.
But the one area of jargon which largely gets overlooked and in which I take particular delight is the language people employ in an attempt to say something interesting about themselves. And LinkedIn is full of this stuff – little phrases describing their roles or, most enjoyably, their personal attributes and the temptation to try and describe four skills-sets in one 10 word sentence is irresistible. Priceless.
I’ve been having a butcher’s at random personal summaries – this is the beauty of LinkedIn, you can shuffle across personal connections endlessly and these are some of the astonishing things people have said about themselves:
Sue: ‘I bridge the gap between business and technology’ So modest Sue.
I love this one because it’s written in the 3rd person. So funny. ‘Peter possesses a natural talent for building trust-based relationships for selling “the possibilities” (I swear he used those quotation marks) that drive team performance and customer engagement. Just what does he mean by “possibilities” do you imagine? The mind boggles.
Another 3rd person statement: ‘Sandra excels at creating strategic planning and implementation initiatives and innovating/updating operational processes’ Have you any idea what her role is? No me neither
This one by Prashad is just not the most compelling opening line I’ve read: ‘I managed several projects for organisations operating in various sectors’ See what I mean?
Charlotte on the other hand gets straight down to the deep stuff: ‘I have a mix of many different personality qualities. I can be very direct yet very thoughtful’ I bet she keeps cats and believes in astrology.
Meanwhile Peter ‘has spent the last 5 years developing and architecting (is that a real word?) the search algorithms that are at the core of the neutrino application and differentiation of the neutrino technologies from the keyword search systems in structural data’ Wow definitely not the guy to get stuck with in the kitchen at a party
Unlike Toni who quite simply is ‘adept at managing operational performance in fast-paced environments by empowering staff and creating synergy’ Now that’s almost the perfect corporate speak statement and i have no idea what she’s talking about. Imagine what she’s like after a bottle of wine
Karangarly proudly asserts that ‘my work is to be a connection in co-operation between our company and others’ Just what do the words ‘in co-operation’ add to the meaning?
Kurt also measures his sentences by the yard rather than by their eloquence: ‘a creative problem-solver who combines insight and method to diagnose issues, implement practical solutions, applying experience and best practice to achieve results in gaining and sustaining a strategic competitive advantage’ and I’ve no idea what he’s talking about.
Intriguingly John ‘is a driven dynamic director-hunter/farmer with many years experience in the electronics sector’ Eh?
But the final word on gobbledygook must go to Beverly who single-handedly ‘initiates clear strategic direction, brand differentiation, defined value propositions, holistic solutions and coherent core messaging; achieving brand recognition, developing alignment, collaborating campaign RoI and business growth. Sounds like Bev has just swallowed all four volumes of the marketing manager-speak manual and regurgitated the best bits, just for my pleasure.
I could cite tons of this stuff. I look at all those happy folk in the image above and try and fit the quotes to the faces. Bev is definitely the girl in the glasses. Don’t you wonder how some people ever secure employment if they talk and think like this? I suspect this isn’t their natural language; they just use it to sound impressive. No laughing at the back. I guess If I’m going to have a smirk at other folks’ efforts it’s only fair that I should pitch up my own meagre attempt to sound interesting on LinkedIn. Smirk away: