Bears, Bikinis and LinkedIn Learning Paths
By Bryan Bennett
As March ended, Wall Street’s Bears were busy taking a chunk out of LinkedIn - pulling its stock down more than $100 off last year’s high. The people, however, don't seem to care. Some were discussing the ramifications of Bikini Luxe’s new LinkedIn profile picture.
While Barclay’s analysts were downgrading the stock, Forbes was asking Should You Post Sexy Photos To LinkedIn? and Huffington Post was running one of those “hack” articles with 3 LinkedIn Hacks I Bet You Didn’t Know.
LinkedIn seemed to take it all in stride. I agree with them. I would prefer to talk about realizing the synergies from the purchase last year of Lynda.com and the roll-out of Learning Paths. I’ve opted for the classic bait-and-switch here, I posted the photo of the woman in the bikini, but I’m going to talk about growing your career instead.
With Learning Paths, LinkedIn and Lynda.com are trying to allow people to gain experience in new fields or to grow in their current field. I ended up as an SMD intern because, while I had 15 years in the PR and marketing game, I had been out as a stay-at-home dad for 10. A decade ago, social media was tangential to doing my job. Now, it is de rigueur. I met Eve Mayer at a function (our kids had been in school together among other things), and she offered me real-world experience.
Not everybody can fit that into their lifestyle, though. Learning Paths is an attempt to give you somewhere to start. Because I’ve got a long background in strategic communications, I looked at the free portions of their Advertising Fundamentals module. They are pretty good, but they should be. Hosted by former Young & Rubicam president Jane Barratt, the videos hit the highlights that you would believe everyone should know but that surprisingly few people actually do. When I worked the news desk of a Top 20 circulation newspaper I was constantly amazed that real companies were represented by people who didn't know the basics.
In a great marketing moment, they have managed to place the videos for free viewing on Virgin America flights. However, re/code's snarky copy says, “Here’s a tip for helping your video content stand out online: Make sure people see it when they don’t have many other options.” They aren’t wrong, but those long flights are pretty boring.
When I was working in Sydney, Australia, I knew a woman who was my go-to CSR and was halfway through a two-year programme (there’s my Aussie spelling for ya mate) to get a certificate in Public Relations and Media. I talked her boss into letting her fill in when our secretary was out for a month, just to get a feel for the real world. Two weeks in, I found her sobbing at her desk. She hated PR. I worry that online learning doesn't actually prepare you for the real world, but I do think it's a start. My wife took the LSAT prep class online and only missed one question. Is test prep different than the real-world rigors of daily use? Maybe.
If I had a desire to change fields while working, this might just be the ticket to talking my way through an interview and getting that first job. If money wasn't a problem and I wanted to develop real skills at something, I would take an internship or find a mentor. It’s what I did and I don’t regret it. After all, they haven’t made me cry...