Kindergarten? Time for LinkedIn

It was back during LinkedIn Fundamentals that I lost the last remnant of hope. I learned that not only did my profile picture scream “professional liability,” but also that not having over 500 connections by age 26 is a surefire way of not being recruited for any job in the Western Hemisphere.

After extensive soul-searching, I realized that none of this is my fault. While my parents were focusing on my education and extracurricular activities, they had their eyes off the ball regarding the next frontier - LinkedIn. Forget about income and wealth inequality, LinkedIn inequality is becoming the defining issue of our time.

Resolved not to repeat my parents' mistakes, I have started to develop draft LinkedIn profiles for my future offspring. My first son will have 300 connections before the age of five, all of my current LinkedIn inheritance, and written endorsements from his kindergarten teachers. I will also siphon off his college fund to pay for a lifetime LinkedIn Premium subscription, so he can InMail any professional before he has his first girlfriend.

All of this is a bit ludicrous. The youth of the world, now laser-focused on securing the prized first internship, have forgotten what being young is meant to be. Last week, a friend received an endorsement from a 15-year old girl for being “cute.” I found this amusing, although he is unsure whether to reject the endorsement for fear of burning bridges with the next generation of talent. The influx of these youngsters to LinkedIn has at least bolstered my overall connections count. Maybe all hope is not quite lost.

Tiger parents are partly to blame for these unwelcome trends. Well-developed LinkedIn profiles are now badges of honor that can be trumpeted by proud parents in the schoolyard. Yesterday I heard a mother indiscreetly mention to her son that “Chris has been working on his LinkedIn profile.” The son duly handed his football to his mother and pulled out his iPad. While the fun kids are in the playground, the smart kids are on LinkedIn.

Business must also be responsible. Companies have already started to reach out to high school students to get their hands on “talent” before competitors do. What next, networking events at mother/baby classes? Children should be in the business of making friends, not in the business of making contacts.

The writer is a LinkedIn user.