Since its founding in 2002, LinkedIn has quickly become one of the most popular video games of all time. It currently has roughly 530 million users, and was purchased by Microsoft in 2016 for $26.2 billion, the same company that also purchased two other trendy games, Minecraft (2014) and GitHub (2018).
For those unfamiliar, LinkedIn is a 2D, turn-based MMORPG that sets itself apart from its competitors by placing players not in a fantasy world of orcs and goblins, but in the treacherous world of business. Players can choose from dozens of character classes (e.g., Entrepreneurs, Social Media Mavens, Finance Wizards) each with their own skill sets and special moves (Power Lunch; Signal Boost; Invoice Dodge). They gain “experience” by networking, obtaining endorsements from other users, and posting inspirational quotes from Elon Musk.
The general goal of LinkedIn (the game) is to find and connect with as many people on LinkedIn (the website) as possible, in order to secure vaguely defined social capital and potentially further one’s career, which allows the player to purchase consumer goods of gradually increasing quality. Like many games, it has dubious real-life utility. The site’s popularity and success, like that of many social networks, depends heavily on obfuscating this fact. This illusion of importance creates a sense of naive trust among its users. This makes it easy to exploit.
To novices, the game appears to be open-ended, and impossible to “beat” in any clearly defined sense. But it is, in fact, possible to win at LinkedIn. I have done so, and you can too, by following this short strategy guide.
One: Create The Ultimate Businessman
The most important part of winning LinkedIn is creating the perfect profile. Set your location to New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles (the only three cities that matter) — or better yet, just describe yourself as “bi-coastal.” Juke your qualifications with high-powered finance jobs and an ivy league school or two (more on this later). Steal a headshot from the Real Businessmen Tumblr to use for your profile photo, and insert stock photos of people shaking hands and taking meetings to both exude power and demonstrate that you’re no stranger to making high-powered deals.
Two: Connect With Everyone
Once your profile is in decent shape, you can start connecting with strangers. Unfortunately, LinkedIn limits users to only 30,000 connections, and 3,000 connection requests, so use some discretion.
Spend a few hours each day connecting with people. Start by searching for employees at powerful corporations like Google and Facebook. As users within various spheres of influence accept your connection requests, you will begin to gain legitimacy. At first a few people might decline your request, but eventually, once your network grows, important people will see that others they know are already connected with you, and accept your invitation without suspicion. Work your way through the corporate food chain like an intestinal parasite at a gratis conference buffet.
Certain users may require you enter their email address in order to “prove” you know them. Don’t panic — these are easy enough to guess. Remember that most people’s email addresses are merely some version of their first and last names, along with “[the company they work for].com” or “gmail.com.” Even better, most people post their email addresses on their own websites, which can be easily found by searching Google and Facebook — the very surveillance software many of them help maintain. Thanks fellas!
Before long, you will be friends with all of the titans of industry, and maybe even the bassist of Alien Ant Farm.
Three: Spam People’s Feeds With Fake Work Anniversaries
When signing up for LinkedIn, users are encouraged to input their current job, if they have one, along with the month they started, placing themselves into a social hierarchy. Additionally, each year on that starting month, the site will notify (via email and/or in-site alerts) all of a user’s connections of their work anniversary.
Because there’s no limit to the number of jobs one can have simultaneously, it’s incredibly easy to spam people with superfluous work anniversaries. All you have to do is create 12 active jobs, each with a different starting month. (As far as I can tell, LinkedIn only sends one work anniversary email per user per month, so it’s not worth the trouble to input more than 12.)
The jobs don’t have to be real. As you can see, I’m currently the Vice President of Butt Communications, the Hot Dog Man at Goldman Sachs, and the Big Bad Pig Boy at Pig Boys, Inc.
Each month, as the congratulations roll in, and you waste a few seconds of the valuable time of 30,000 or so of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world, you’ll feel like you really accomplished something. Great work, Pig Boy!
Four: Lie, Lie, Lie
LinkedIn doesn’t (can’t?) fact check every claim on their service, so users can put in anything they want. Which means everyone can get some of the social benefits of an Ivy League education, without any of the student debt. I personally attended both Yale and Harvard at the age of five, double-majoring in farm sciences and “straight A’s.”
Weirdly, only one guy ever got suspicious. Shortly after I connected with an eagle-eyed Pulitzer Prize and Emmy nominated journalist/producer (who perhaps was initially fooled by my impressive credentials to accept my request), I received an angry message from him. “Don’t know who you are,” he wrote, “but neither school you list offers the majors or degrees you claim to have so I’m deleting you from my contacts.”
Five: Engage With Recruiters
Eventually, your impressive resume will begin to attract corporate recruiters. For example, someone from Quantcast once emailed me regarding a second LinkedIn account I had set up (Pro Tip: double your connections with two accounts!) under the fake name “Greebo.”
I missed the initial email, but thankfully, he followed up:
It sounded like a good opportunity, so I emailed him and tried to set up a meeting.
I probably seemed too eager, or my story about my alias was too convoluted. He never responded, and a few days later LinkedIn banned Greebo. I consider this one of my greatest failures. Learn from my mistake.
$ix: $ell $kill Endor$ement$
LinkedIn is a business-focused site, so it’s only natural to create a business from it. A few years ago, I saw an opening in the market of skill endorsements.
According to LinkedIn, the endorsements are “a great way to showcase your abilities to other members.” They can be almost anything, like “Social Media,” “Securities Fraud,” and “TCB (Taking Care of Business).” An endorsement from a major account is a big deal. Since I attended two Ivy League schools simultaneously, I was a hot commodity. So I decided to charge people for my endorsements.
In 2014, I founded the company LinkedIn Skill Endorsements, and after posting on Twitter that I was charging ten cents for endorsements (a limited time discount from the usual 50 cents), I snagged three customers. I sent them a welcome email.
Note the highly inflated “change fee.” As soon as their payments were processed in PayPal, I endorsed them for things like “alcoholism,” “horse care,” “blood,” and “solid waste.” Since this is stuff most people wouldn’t want on their resume, they’d be forced to pay me a $10,000 fee to remove the terrible endorsements.
Unfortunately, none of them were willing to pay for the SkillChange™ service. One user merely responded in a one-word email that said “unsubscribe” (unfortunately for them, it costs $100 to unlock the unsubscribe service). Ultimately, it turned out the business model was severely flawed, in that users are easily able to delete endorsements. Despite this, my business is a success. In the last four years, I’ve made a whopping $1.20 ($0.53 after fees) by selling endorsements. Now that’s how you business.
Of course, these are just a few sample strategies for defeating LinkedIn. I can’t give away all my secrets for free. If you’d like to receive my full course, and learn how to make a huge profit on LinkedIn without even leaving your home, please send $10,000 via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t worry — it’s definitely not a scam.