Polywork, A New Professional Network

I have often thought that an individual is far more than their job title or pay scale. Which means that even in a professional networking context, your portfolio of experience should also include your experiences.

In a recent ambling along the Fediverse road, I discovered a new professional networking initiative called Polywork. The premise of its creators is fairly simple:

We just thought it was high time a professional network existed that let you represent all the wonderful things you actually do as a professional…we want to build a network that empowers you and gives you control over your identity and your future opportunities.

LinkedIn has become a social media mess. If you are not being marketed to, it is usually because you are merely a data pawn in someone else’s marketing plan. And this is before we get into the raft of automated messages, manipulative algorithms, spam from sales people and a UI which seems to have been built by planning a game of pin a tail on the donkey. I may be a fine figure of a man, but I don’t need to see my profile picture four times on the one interface. Add to this the troubling sense that the site hasn’t made up its mind what it wants to be: job board, learning hub, microblog, industry news site, community forum.

In trying to be all things to all people, it seems to be nothing to anyone. Except that its active user base, much like the book of face (recently rebranded as ‘Meta‘), means people feel a compulsion to be on there. All of this is a far cry from the promise of its vision and mission:

Vision

Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

Mission

The mission of LinkedIn is simple: connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.

For those who have apprehended their pay cheque arrives whether they are on LinkedIn or not, the alternatives are problematic. First up, we have portfolio sites like GitHub. Great if you are a programmer and want a space to host your project. But less useful if you don’t have a portfolio of code or have a series of projects but also want to showcase your passion for photography, horse riding or incipient efforts at being a DJ.

For those wanting more, a personal website tends to surface as the best option. But while flexible, this path comes with a high toll in terms of management complexity (hosting, ongoing site maintenance and poor exposure). The latter is, in a world of turnkey CMS, the bigger problem as one has to resort to Mastodon, Twitter, FB et al, or the black arts of SEO, to promote one’s work.

A road which brings a person back full circle to finding an organic exposure site. This is where Polywork comes in as it aims to be different. Something more akin to a changelog of your professional interests and pursuits than mere online CV or employment website.

I have often thought that an individual is far more than their job title or pay scale. Which means that even in a professional networking context, your portfolio of experience should also include your experiences. An old school HR Manager will be dismissive of this, but thankfully they are a dying breed as people become aware we are the sum of our parts not our paid roles.

The downside is the site still has, as at the time of writing, a restricted sign up process. Meaning you need to join a waitlist or know someone who can share a VIP code to get a login. But it’s worth the wait as it gives an online space to answer that perennial question one gets at parties: ‘what do you do?’

A question which, if you are a storyteller, problem solver, mentor, advisor and rabbit hole voyager all at the same time, is not a question which can be answered with a job title alone.

Good night and good luck.


A farmer telling his family, a doctor, a vicar and a lawyer by H.W. Bunbury is licensed under CC BY 4.0.