The fact that today President Obama is having a town hall meeting hosted by LinkedIn at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California says a lot about LinkedIn’s impact on social media and its evolving potential. Obama will answer questions from a live audience at the museum and from LinkedIn members on the internet.
This past August, LinkedIn reached a milestone: It surpassed 120 million worldwide members with fewer than half of its total number of users residing in the United States.
I am about to reach my own milestone with LinkedIn: My connections now total 499 and will cross over to 500-plus any day. 500 connections is a robust number. What does this all mean for my use of LinkedIn?
It is clear that LinkedIn is growing by leaps and bounds and is the dominant game for professional social networking notwithstanding Facebook. Most LinkedIn members are still in the infant stages of their utilizing its full potential.
People are using LinkedIn to post and view updates from their connections. I think more people view updates than post them, so the posters do get a lot of visibility. I know that posting updates does provide opportunities for offline conversations with my connections. A fellow board member will say, “Oh, I saw the item about your family being on the early morning news show for your children’s first day back to school.” This comment begins a conversation. The trick is not to becoming a serial, pesky updater and becoming part of the internet noise which we all are trying to reduce.
I have been able to get people job interviews for advertised positions when I have used my LinkedIn connections at a particular company or organization to facilitate an introduction.
LinkedIn does post jobs in particular fields, but it is no Monster.com and has plenty of room to grow. The company states on its website that it “has a diversified business model with revenues coming from hiring solutions, marketing solutions and premium subscriptions.” So clearly, it intends to become the go-to source for employment recruiters and job seekers.
The one current drawback to LinkedIn is that many people, if not most, don’t check the site frequently, so an update or an email message can get stale. LinkedIn needs to create more incentives to visit its site a couple of times a day rather than a couple of times a week or a month. Recently, LinkedIn has added a news content feature which should encourage its members to visit their home pages. For example the home page news features business bloggers from HBR.org (Harvard Business Review), which is actually quite good.
The advice I would give LinkedIn is to increase the quality and availability of high-end business and political news and blogs, e.g. add content from the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. This quality content will drive more traffic to LinkedIn.
As I have said in earlier posts on social media, an executive or professional can’t afford not to be on LinkedIn as it is increasingly becoming the dominant venue for people to check out the executive or professional. LinkedIn is a free billboard to let people know who you are, what you have done, and what you can do. Now it should also be about what interesting things you are doing now.
Why wouldn’t you be on it? Why wouldn’t you file updates?