I joined Polywork last week, a new kind of professional social networking site that’s taking on LinkedIn.
It’s a year-old startup that’s raised $13 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz. Investors see it as a long-awaited replacement for LinkedIn (19 years!). A digital resume and a highlights reel that helps you show the world what you can do, share work in progress, find collaborators, paid gigs and opportunities.
Polywork is still in beta and invite-only, but it’s grown from 1k to 22k in the last three months, see the Twitter Love.
Peter Johnston is the founder & CEO, a Belfast-native and a former designer at Google and M&C Saatchi London. Check out his profile to see how he presents himself online, his vision for the product, challenges they’re facing, and the changing nature of work.
A different kind of storytelling
We believe the world can be more productive if we know what people can do and who they did it with. This is the other side of design – storytelling – how do we help people tell their story and unique path?
This is a different kind of storytelling. There are no clichéd likes or followers, which turns social media into an anxiety-ridden popularity contest. We’ve gotten used to that over the last 10 years, but the internet used to be a place to express who you are; it was more innocent in the earlier days.
Then likes and followers arrived, and a lack of focus on building communities. We may be excited to express ourselves online, but then we’re judged for it, so the result is a polished glean – a version of the truth we tell the internet – Fireside chat.
Big challenges. How do they give people the dopamine hit they’re used to when there are no likes or follower counts? We’re already invested in Twitter and LinkedIn. But LinkedIn doesn’t resonate or feel authentic, so I’m spending less time on it.
A digital journal
I’m cracking on with my profile. It’s a good-looking product, like entering a new world: colourful, thoughtful design, minimalist, avatars. It’s a nice feeling to see everything in one place and you can share work in progress. It awakens the generalist in you – there is so much pressure to niche down and be a focused expert.
Discovery – you can add badges – founder, storyteller, parent, build in public etc. so people can search by topic. Get to know the AI bot that will send opportunities your way. Mark yourself open for interviews. Explore the Space Station and find speakers, investors, mentors, designers, content creators and more to collaborate with.
Helpful tip from Peter on how to maximise your profile: use the tags – posts with a full description are ranked higher.
It’s solving a problem for me: how to condense 25 years of work into a one-page resume. A digital home for personal and professional achievements and a place to distribute online work. It helps with imposter syndrome – you realise how much you’ve actually done – interesting to hear Peter say he’s been crippled with that his entire life.
Also, a great way to document what you do for your kids. In years to come, they might appreciate it.
On #Ship30for30, we talked about the issue of investing in writing, but not distribution (50:50), and why it’s important to share your work online in entirety rather than adding a link. People want to stay on the platform. The trouble with personal websites: no one will ever find it, and it takes ages to maintain. Sriram Krishnan is using Polywork as his custom domain.
Hitting the zeitgeist
It’s an interesting time for identity. Peter points to the dramatic power shift from boss to talent during the pandemic [Digiday]: “We are seeing the largest shift towards entrepreneurs in history.”
Personal choice and a desire for professional growth, but also inflation and necessity! The rising cost of living means a side hustle is necessary, not a luxury for many. And employees wear multiple hats, which don’t fit into one job title or description.
I like what they’re trying to build: a healthier social network for the creator economy. A more straightforward way of representing yourself online that empowers people to have multiple income sources.
I’m excited to see how it evolves. If you want to check it out, here’s a code to skip the waitlist: eatmorecake
Free to use – they’re working on a premium version so you can share more.
See you in the multiverse!
💌Steph Smith: Writing for a seven-figure paid newsletter. On finding her dream remote role that bridged her love for data, writing, and entrepreneurship; antifragility at work – creating things online when people aren’t watching; free vs paid newsletters; the writing: distribution ratio, and how they hire talent at Trends [TheHustle].
🤯Sari Azout on building emotional capital. How a healthy mind is an entrepreneur’s biggest competitive advantage; practices and strategies for bolstering your mental health; how good work comes from slowing the fuck down, and ways to support this: building an asynchronous-first written culture, inspired by Amazon’s written culture.
🎗Refugees At Home: a UK charity which connects those with a spare room to refugees in need of somewhere to stay. We were talking about Afghanistan and how to help at September’s NUJ meeting – a colleague took in a 20-year-old Vietnamese boy who was trafficked as a teen to work on a cannabis farm. A brilliant initiative.
🤓Smart glasses: a brief history. Can Facebook’s new Ray-Ban smart glasses succeed where Google Glass and Snap Spectacles failed? Front-facing cameras for photo & video (and Bluetooth speakers in its frames to take calls) for $299. No Facebook branding – avoiding the curse of his predecessors: the ‘Glassholes’.
🇪🇸Spain’s new digital nomad visa – small towns are ready to host you! Around 30 towns have decided to to join the National Network of Welcoming Towns for Remote Workers scheme, which aims to attract nomads with a new 12-month visa. You can connect with a host who will introduce you to the locals.
The future of work is now
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