So, I ran into a guy while getting on a plane. It was Jim Woodward, the former CEO of Meriter Hospital. We had a nice conversation, and I wanted to follow up with an email.
Only I didn't have his email address, and I couldn't find it anywhere on the Internet. No problem, I thought. We're LinkedIn...I don't know...friends, associates, linkers? What do you call someone you're linked to on LinkedIn? Whatever. I figured I could find his address there.
But here's the problem. I never remember my user names and my passwords. I have a few of each and there are endless combinations. If a monkey were placed at a keyboard, given a thousand years, he would eventually type in the right combination. I did not want to take that much time. Also, I don't own a monkey.
Now right here you might stop me and suggest that I might, I don't know, maybe write down my user names and password combinations. But this is the freaking digital age, people! We do not write things down on slips of paper anymore. Everything is supposed to be electronic. And digital. Very digital. Not pencil. Digital. Have I explained myself thoroughly?
Okay, so I did what I thought was a smart thing. I just gave up on the old account and created a new one. While creating this new account the LinkedIn folks asked me how I wanted to be identified. I had a few options. I could be the executive director of the Wisconsin Bike Fed, which is my main job. Or I could be Citizen Dave, the blogger. Or I could be the owner of DCA City Consulting, which is my consulting business.
Since my contact with Jim was through DCA, I chose that as my occupation.
Then, fatefully, I checked another box or I hit a button. Something. Anyway, in seconds, hundreds if not thousands of invitations to LinkedIn to me were sent off into the ether. My inbox was quickly filled with eager careerists who wanted to link to me. I was both appalled and kind of jazzed all at once. I had no idea what I had done, but it sure looked I was a popular guy. On the other hand, did all these people expect me to help them find jobs?
One of the first people I heard from was one of my board members at the Bike Fed asking, sensibly enough, if he should know something about my future with the organization as I had identified myself with DCA Consulting. I assured him nothing had changed. I just hit a button. Or something. I didn't really know. I'm sure this bolstered his confidence in the board's choice for the Bike Fed's leader. This guy is on top of everything, he must have thought.
I also started to get congratulations from around the world about my "exciting" new job. For those people I knew I wrote back explaining that nothing had changed. That I had just checked a box. Or something. I didn't really know.
After a few days and a few more contacts from my board members, things started to subside. Then all of a sudden there was another rush of LinkedIn invitation acceptances. I was perplexed as I had not checked any new boxes or hit any more buttons.
My wife, Dianne, became annoyed. "I got three LinkedIn invitations from you this morning," she said. "Stop it. I'm not linking in to you."
I explained that I had no idea what was going on, but that I truly wished she would join me in LinkedIn just as she had joined me on our journey through life together. She did not respond.
And this week there was another wave of this. Apparently, LinkedIn is like the doomsday machine that keeps launching nuclear weapons long after everyone is gone. I don't know how to stop it anymore than I knew how I started it.
So, if you get a LinkedIn invitation from me -- and if you live on the face of the Earth, it looks like you probably will -- just congratulate me on my new job and be done with it.
And also, if you have Jim Woodward's new email address, please send it to me. I couldn't find it on LinkedIn.