Review : LinkedIn


2:06 PM |

You all probably have heard about LinkedIn. It started a few years ago with only 30.000 users and now has over 9.5 million. Probably half that number are unique business users.
Its’ portal lets you write your profile in a user-friendly way and helps you to find other profiles quite swiftly and accurately. Although you can use it to find people profiles which are related to a business or service, most people will use it to find jobs or (if you are a recruiter) candidates for jobs.
LinkedIn seems to only have ambitions in that specific area, so you cannot find services or products using the same technology which is a shame considering the amount of people who are now on this network. The system also doesn’t match business objectives (like CollectiveX does e.g.).
The best thing about LinkedIn is undoubtedly it's search engine. You can effectively search linkedIn profiles from various angles which might make it attractive to business users. 'Might', because the LI ideology is a 'contradiction in terms'. It is made to grow aggressively in numbers, to an addictive extend. LI is quite aware of that fact but they are not changing it, because it is their winning strategy for now. So anywhere you look you can see that you will get more out of the system if you have a larger number of contacts, recommendations, or at their recently added service 'Answers'.
The new Answers service lets you ask a question to your network who can then give you an 'Answer'. It is published for everyone to see, so it does has a great positive effect on quality on the network by adding a lot of useful information. 'Answers' are also rated as 'good' or 'best'. But sadly you just need one 'best' Answer to get to the Leader board, where the quantity counts again; the more Answers you give, the higher you get on the Leader board. But they are still tweaking this service and them undoubtedly will improve it further. A bit annoying is the 'Linkedin' category where very low quality questions and answers are being asked. It's too easy to get a high-score here with ever repeating same questions. So a system in which only the 'best' Answers count would not do either because this category is so different from the others.
I do like this new feature because it lets you express yourself to your network. Also it does the same the other way around, making it possible to select certain communication styles amongst your network and targeting that effectively. It is a first step toward a real business use of LI.
Profiling
As I mentioned earlier the profiling is very much based upon the status of your profile, not the profile itself. What do I mean by that? Well, if you have a big network and a lot of contacts which are connected to your LinkedIn network, you’ll end up higher in the ranking of searches.
You can choose for people with the biggest network or with the highest number of ‘recommendations’. Naturally heavy LinkedIn networkers are using every trick in the book in order to increase their number of contacts and to give each other recommendations to end up high in the rankings. Quality is therefore very relative on LinkedIn, especially since you cannot communicate directly with one-another. It only has email options, no IM or Skype integration. You really have to know where to look and what to do
in order to be effective.
Shift towards quality
However LI is taking the first steps towards a more quality oriented network with 'Answers'.
LI networkers are now openly asking 'how can we make real business use out of LI, make money with it?' Somewhere in the near future LI will have to address that need, because Myspace business is around the corner and then networkers would have a real alternative.
One of the options for LI might be to have a 'flexible' networking setting to your LI account in which you can state the business and / or quality conditions on which you act upon quality actions such as introductions, recommendations and job-requests.

Also,
in order to be effective people will have to learn about assessing communication-styles, professional profiling and same interest group targeting if they want to be successful in their online business.
Summary
LinkedIn is one of the best and well known portals for job seekers. It thrives too much on ‘status’, it does too little in helping people in quality of online business and to create quality in personal communication. It thus is still a long way away from real business and business objectives. It has a promising basis in the quantity of users, portal interface and user friendliness. To LinkedIn: please understand the real business objectives of your users, introduce the possibility to be flexible with quality actions. Add the possibility of sharing photo’s and IM / Skype integration and same user groups oriented Forums..
If you want personal advise regarding your online strategy, just call me, I am a Bitwine advisor


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