BY G. A. FINCH
In recent weeks I have seen LinkedIn updates and discussions about whether talking politics or curating politically tinged or themed posts and links and other materials is appropriate on LinkedIn. It is clearly because of the political season and the stridency and controversy surrounding the presidential election that political matters have spilled over into the business social medium of LinkedIn.
We would expect people to discuss political subjects on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and You Tube. We would not expect the typical business with a presence on Twitter or Facebook to engage in political discussions. Businesses exist to make money for their owners and managers and employees, and they do that by attracting customers and clients, not repelling them with unfavorable messaging. Professionals want to get hired by a client or recruited by or promoted by an employer and to not turn off the employer or the client.
Growing up as a young adult, I was always told that one should avoid talking about politics or religion if one wanted to steer clear of controversy and keep conversations pleasant. Although it was a general statement, I knew that this rule was honored in the breach when it came to discussions with family, friends, and neighbors and one’s various clubs and affinity groups. What was clear was that the prohibition on speaking about politics and religion in polite society especially was to be strictly adhered to in the work place. This is great advice and a good personal policy to have.
We have seen businesses make policy and business decisions to affirm or condemn certain actions that have a political or ideological cast to them. These are sometimes viewed as ethical, moral, justice or religious values stances. Some corporate boards or business owners choose to undertake a risk of adverse impacts on their business in order to do the “right thing” as they see it.
Should one’s LinkedIn page be a forum for one’s political views? I was an early adopter of LinkedIn. I use it for my business and professional life and to connect with other business people and professionals. If someone works or has worked for a political party, a political candidate, or an elected official, then that affiliation is relevant information. It gives me context and background about that person. Would I be interested in updates, postings, or articles that are political? No. Would I post or send an update with a political theme? No. I do not believe most people join LinkedIn for political content. They join it to present their credentials to the world and to see other members’ credential’s and to make possible connections.
Political content is a divider on LinkedIn, not a connector. Political statements can easily offend. One’s displaying political content can cause one to have fewer professional or business opportunities and not even know the opportunities were missed. Personal political content is more suitable to a blog, a Twitter account, and a non-business website and, perhaps, Facebook and Instagram.