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I am a 90s kid. I graduated in 1997, started my career, worked for a decade, and then started freelancing. Like now, the 1990s was a period of optimism and hope. India liberalized its economy and opened up to the world, creating endless opportunities for me and my peers. Thanks to globalization, several multinationals set up shop, benefiting people like me, who had the privilege of working with American MNCs. While some of us stayed back in India, countless others boarded the first flight available to the United States, driven by ambition, and the American policy of welcoming high skilled professionals under its H1B Visa program. Indeed, there was no other time like the 1990s, especially for tech workers, provided they were willing to learn and adapt to the prevailing workplace cultures and build new skills along the way.
Ok. Now that I have introduced myself, I can now turn to the reason why I am writing this. I have been super active on LinkedIn for the past year or so. I have connected, followed, unfollowed, and then reconnected with many fellow members, all in the hope of building my follower base and hoping that I generate leads and opportunities for myself. I also throng LinkedIn for its ability to be a source of bountiful learning, especially from “influencers” and “thought leaders” who have the knack of a Millennial for viral content. I also hope to go viral with my posts one day. Just that the “one day” seems so near, and yet so far. This is the point of this article. There is too much hype and too little substance as to viral content, and correct me If I am wrong, but, there seems to be a need for a reality check as far as aspirations and ambitions go.
For instance, every other post is a poll, sometimes on nonsensical matters, as we vie with each other to outdo and make one’s post garner Millions of views. Moreover, there is too much fluff going on with all the photos celebrating personal and professional milestones. I don’t have a beef with such posts, though, I always think about the intentions behind so much hype. Every other LinkedIn member wants to be an “influencer” and all of us want our posts to be liked, commented upon, and shared for “better reach”. Fine. Its good to be ambitious. However, how many of us convert the viral posts to paying opportunities and find decent and well paying clients. I see ads for jobs, with “unpaid internships” (this is an Oxymoron) as the dominant trend. I have a genuine question to my fellow LinkedIn members: Does networking on LinkedIn pay (literally and figuratively) or, are we chasing a “mirage” here?
As I mentioned earlier, I too was caught up in this “binge” networking as soon as I graduated, and then the “dotcom mania” was at its peak. For those of you too young to remember, the Dotcom bubble was a rush by investors into anything with .com, meaning that hot money poured into startups and what are now called Unicorns, in a big way. Needless to say, the bubble burst just around the time of 911, leaving many penniless and homeless. The natural boom bust cycle of capitalism caught up with the founders and investors, though Creative Destruction meant that a few survived, going on to become what are now the Silicon Valley superstars and the like. So, my point is that the current Creator/Gig Economy bubble reminds me of the “irrational exuberance” of the late 1990s and the early 2000s and someday, this bubble too would burst.
Of course, I am writing this newsletter in the hope of signing up new subscribers and hopefully, convert leads into opportunities. However, there is a nagging feeling on the back of my mind that it is Deja Vu all over again as the Creator economy bubble too looks like it would go the way of the Dotcom mania. I used the term Creative Destruction in the last para, mainly to emphasize that even when bubbles burst, there are many who survive, either because they have a solid business model, or are lucky to have VCs and Investors with deep pockets, willing to stand by them during the tough times. In the same manner, some of us Creators would ride the waves, and others would get washed away. So, unless one has a firm footing and fall back options, I suggest not putting all the eggs into one basket, and use LinkedIn/Medium/Substack/YouTube, or any other such Creator Economy media accordingly. A sobering reality check awaits us and we need to be prepared as being forewarned is forearmed.
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