My Love/Hate Relationship with Linkedin (Too Many Career Hyphens)

Image by Ryan L. on Twenty20

I have a love/hate relationship with Linkedin. I use it daily for research and networking as a producer and tech founder, but during my time as an actor, I’ve found that it has little to no value. It’s tricky trying to figure out how to thread the needle between these two distinct personas on the internet that are often opposed. On the one hand I’m an actor and gamer, and on the other I’m a tech founder and producer. Linkedin exacerbates the problem by forcing me to exist solely as my resume, and thereby crafting two separate or even disjointed images of myself. It creates a dichotomy that is uncomfortable and feels inauthentic. As a result, I’m not sure I comfortably connect with either crowd.

So where do I fit in on this platform? Do I show my acting reel on Linkedin, or keep that off and just post about tech-related things? Do I try to keep a balance between the two? It’s a tricky question, one that I’m still trying to figure out the answer to. In the meantime, I’ve found Polywork to be more comfortable. It feels like it’s geared more towards “many hat wearers”, and there isn’t as much emphasis on building a “professional” persona. Its main value to me is in building a portfolio that encompasses everything I do. However, its design doesn’t allow me to build a voice the way traditional social networks like Linkedin or Twitter do, meaning it’s not a clear replacement.

In the past week, I’ve had many Linkedin connections reach out to me in wonder at how different my professional world seems now than when they first met me. It’s funny, because early on in the pandemic, I ran workshops on Linkedin for actors looking for work they could do from home. At that time, those same connections messaged me essentially the same thing: “Wow, your life is really different than when we first met!” The reaction from both sides is simultaneously reassuring and troubling.

I don’t know if I’m supposed to try and bridge the gap between these two worlds on Linkedin. Should I present myself as an actor who is interested in tech, or a tech professional who is comfortable around actors? I’m not sure. What I do know is that in 2017, I wrote an article about a childhood hero of mine — former professional baseball pitcher Bill Hurst. On Thursday, Bill and his family discovered the article. Soon afterwards I had messages from Bill here on Linkedin, but I also happened to be livestreaming on Twitch at the time. Low and behold, Bill Hurst and his kid ended up in the chat of my livestream. This allowed for some amazing moments of pure joy.

I don’t know if Bill Hurst would’ve found my twitch stream if it weren’t for my professional profile here on Linkedin. Or maybe it was my more actor/gamer focused timeline over on Twitter that got them to me. But either way that confluence of events feels like the entire point of social media and online communities as a whole. An article I wrote about Baseball for my first startup, The Turf, got the subject of the article to find me on Twitter, Linkedin, and ultimately Twitch. So in some ways, I guess I must be doing something right.

I’m still trying to figure out the best way to use Linkedin in my new full-time actor life, but in the meantime I’ve found that it can be a useful tool for connecting with people across all of my lifetimes. Even though it may not be perfect, it’s still a valuable platform for building relationships and networking. Who knows, maybe one day Linkedin will be the perfect place for me to connect with both my acting and tech communities. Until then, I’ll keep trying to find the best way to use this platform to my advantage. Thanks for reading!

Do you have any thoughts on how best to use Linkedin in my current career path? Let me know in the comments! And thanks for reading! :)

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Ned Donovan

Ned Donovan

He/Him • Actor • Content Creator • Podcast Producer • Co-Founder Audition Cat, Charging Moose Media, Play+1 • Board Member New Jersey Web Festival • @neddonovan