The future of AI-enhanced online networking for professionals
I love LinkedIn. I would even go as far to say: I am a downright LinkedIn maniac. I log into LinkedIn multiple times a day, to stay on top of what’s happening in my business network, and to engage in meaningful interactions with other professionals around the globe.
After logging in, LinkedIn displays a dashboard with an activity feed, where it summarises all the latest occurrences that are relevant in my network. It shows what others have liked, whether someone found a new job, or when people share their wisdoms, insights, and thoughtful comments.
One of my favourite features in the activity feed are the work anniversaries. Whenever someone has survived another year at their employer, it automatically renders that as a special event in my feed.
The purpose of that anniversary event isn’t just to let me know about this critical milestone in the career journey of my colleague (or whatever “friends” are called on LinkedIn), but it also offers me to engage with it by leaving a personal comment.
But in contrast to other entries in the activity feed, the comment feature on the anniversary event is more than a mere plain text field: the cool thing is that it provides some prefabricated comment snippets like “Congrats!” or “Nice job!”, which LinkedIn has carefully tailored for this occasion. With a single click on one of these snippet buttons, LinkedIn posts a comment with that text on my behalf.
Some of the suggested texts even contain the recipient’s first name, like “Congrats, Dave!” or “Nice job, Maria!”. This gives the comment a genuine personal touch, and intensifies the interaction – almost as if it was real!
But as excited as I am about LinkedIn’s commenting feature on job anniversaries, I see room for enhancement.
My main gripe is that it still requires too much manual intervention. While it’s very convenient that LinkedIn provides these handy shortcut snippets that save me tedious keystrokes, the burden of issuing the click is still on me. That’s not just unnecessarily tiresome, but it also poses the risk that I might miss an anniversary event in my ever so crowded activity feed. And that would leave a rather bad impression, wouldn’t it?
So I’m thinking: couldn’t we automate the act of congratulating to anniversaries? Basically, whenever LinkedIn puts a job anniversary event into my activity feed, there could be an Anniversary Congratulations Bot that takes care of selecting one of the suggested responses, and posting it automatically on my behalf. (The bot would of course add an artificial delay before posting, so that it appears as if my comment was, you know, authentic.)
Such an automatism would be totally awesome, because it would help us save precious time in our fast-paced world. Time, which we could put to good use otherwise, like reaching for the stars, shooting for the moon, or just simply making the world a better place.
The Anniversary Congratulations Bot would have one major downside, however: assuming that everyone used it, the number of comments per job anniversary would quickly become very large. That effect is undesired, of course – it would create a lot of noise on the side of the recipient, and it would take more time for them to go through and read all these comments.
That is where the Anniversary Congratulations Aggregation Bot comes to the rescue: by means of a sophisticated language model, this bot can recognise generic responses such as “Congrats!” or “Kudos!” in the stream of comments. It filters them out and condenses them into a handy overall count. (For clarity, we could display a nice descriptive icon next to that number, e.g., a small “thumbs up” illustration or so.)
We could even take this one step further: imagine, every single LinkedIn user eventually used the Anniversary Congratulations Bot. That would effectively mean that we have established a tech-aided, obligatory social norm, where it’s ensured that everyone congratulates everyone else to all of their job anniversaries.
Based on that scenario, the Anniversary Congratulations Aggregation Bot could feed its results to the Anniversary Congratulations Aggregation Analysation Bot, whose job it is to continuously compare the count of comments with the number of our professional connections, to check whether everyone complies with our congratulatory conventions.
And unless the Anniversary Congratulations Aggregation Analysation Bot detects unexpected anomalies in social behaviour, it’s safe to say that the act of congratulating to a job anniversary has become axiomatic. Consequently, we can hide these annoying job anniversaries from our activity feed altogether, and use our newly gained time to focus on things that really matter. (Stars, moon, better place – you get the idea.)
You might start to sense how AI can help us shape the way we interact online. But if you are already impressed by the prospects of the above examples, wait until I give you a glimpse at what is yet to come.
Think hiring. Finally we will be able to get a handle on the overwhelming influx of recruiter spam in our LinkedIn inbox. We just let the Recruiter Response Bot take care of getting back about all the incoming opportunities to write another exciting chapter in the fairy tale of our career.
Or, instead of personally participating in pointless coding exercises that companies send us in a desparate attempt to gauge our technical skillset, we train a Coding Interview Bot with data from our LinkedIn biography and our Github repositories, and let the bot deal with the coding tests on our behalf.
And once the interview process moves to its final stages, we can employ the Salary Negotiation Bot, which pitches for a nice compensation package, and also secures some extra perks like the obligatory gym membership that we aren’t interested in anyways.
The Salary Negotation Bot is a curious case, by the way. One thing you need to know about these bots is that they all come from different third-party vendors. But: even though these commercial bot services all look different from the outside, they are actually wired to the same language model under the hood. They are basically nothing but ChatGPT wrappers – thin on logic, and thick on Tailwind CSS.
This may lead to a scenario, where the Salary Negotiation Bot is not just used by the job candidate, but also on the other side of the table, by the recruiter. So the Salary Negotiation Bot is effectively negotiating with itself. And that’s where it might become trapped in some sort of dead lock situation, in which case the resulting salary can be
NaN. This is a known issue, however, and the prompt engineering wizards are already working hard to get that sorted.
Such minor quirks shouldn’t drag us down, though, and diminish our enthusiasm for the exciting times that lie ahead of us. I sure hope you are as electrified as I am about what’s yet to come.
If this blog post resonated with you, I’m keen to learn about your thoughts on that matter. How do you envision the digital future of business networking? Do you also believe in bot-enhanced opportunities that enrich the way we interact online? Which untapped potential do you see for AI to accelerate our careers, and to take us to unprecedented professional levels?
Don’t hesitate to share your feedback by leaving a comment below. And also, don’t forget to hit the like button! I’d really appreciate it.