It would be as if Facebook decided to focus obsessively on serving college students. It's a good initial strategy, but eventually you have to serve bigger markets.
If I were in charge at LinkedIn I'd focus it on becoming the number one place for professionals to exchange information, create and manage events, and connect with like minded colleagues.
There's a huge potential in this because most professions don't have particularly good online social networks. Oftentimes they're old fashioned discussion boards behind paywalls, comments sections of popular blogs and other half-ass solutions.
Interestingly, my vision really wouldn't do much for software engineers and developers. I think StackOverflow, meetups, and other resources already provide this.
It boggles my mind that they didn't take this route and instead they became the social network for the unemployed as another commenter aptly described them.
It's a business school case study waiting to be written.
create and manage events
In the interest of playing nice with the supplier I played along, but it was always a horrible experience. You don't realise how far from "real time" LinkedIn is until you're in a Skype chat, two people are discussing a question and the rest of the room is complaining it hasn't rendered for them yet. Not for seconds.. minutes. Eventually you would end up with statements I made at the end rendering right at the top with people then replying stating they can't understand what I said without any context.
People were obviously interested in using it for these sorts of events but there seemed to be no interest in making it a tolerable experience.
Over time, I'd get all these tech recruiters whom I've never worked with in any context yet wanted me to be networked with them. A few I said yes to though I never felt very good about it.
As Linkedin requests by Linkedin and email got more obnoxious, I became less and less inclined to have any honest technical discussions that would expose my ignorance to a more and more recruiter-centric audience. I felt better posing those kinds of questions on StackOverflow or even Reddit than I would on Linkedin.
Eventually, I did delete my Linkedin account completely. It's funny. Even unemployed, I don't miss it at all.
Nothing ever shipped to break that cycle.
Seriously, I'm assuming the same ad driven model that has made Facebook profitable would work for a professional network to.
I know I have personally clicked on ads that are related to my profession. I'm far, far more tolerant (even accepting) of B2B advertising than I am of B2C.
It's tricky though. They would have to be careful not to turn it into a pure marketing play. There would have to be safeguards against that.
The key is they would have to keep their eye on the main value proposition:
Becoming the number one way professionals connect with the idea, events, and people who can help them do their jobs better.
For other people who don't know (and don't want to make the effort): my argument was that special purpose social networking sites can do well. Even if with a bit of hacking (and `apps') you could replicate most of their functionality on Facebook.
Ravelry is for knitting and associated crafts.
Or somehow to draw conclusions about who I communicated with on an anonymous dating site and suggest I connect with them.
I'm looking forward to the day that as I walk down the street wearing my Augmented Reality glasses, LinkedIn transparently identifies the faces of the passing people and suggests that I connect to each long lost deeply valued relationship, or suggests I connect to the person walking past who has been stalking me online after I went on one date with them and hated them. Viva LinkedIn!
If "being creepy" is their core business model then they are a great success!
I mean really, take Facebook. Does it suck in some ways? Yes. Does it set the privacy defaults a bit more lenient than my own preferences? Sure.. but I use it and I've found it trivially easy to grasp some of its privacy basics, and set the settings according to my wishes, such that it's usable within my privacy wishes. Further, they've at various times prompted me to look into my privacy settings. All of this has been under enormous scrutiny and pressure, they're no saints... but for me it's a reasonable product in my own experience. If need be, I wouldn't feel bad about closing my FB account because it'd mean FB just wasn't for me, rather than FB is trying to screw me left and right and I need to get out.
Linkedin is very much unlike that, every interaction I have with it says 'close your account because you don't know what the hell Linkedin is doing', and I've not logged on in at least half a year because I fear what kind of alerts and notifications they'll send to my network on the basis of me visiting a few pages there. Like when I turned off 'see who visited my profile', so that I could turn off 'let people see I visited their profile'. A few days later I check my best friends' linkedin because I was updating mine and looking for inspiration, and he jokingly messages me I'm stalking him on linkedin. I couldn't care less he saw that, he's my best friend, but what the f, I just turned that feature off? It's just an accumulation of stuff like that where I've completely lost my trust.
> If "being creepy" is their core business model then they are a great success!
Totally my experience. And I'm even one of those people who's pretty good at bs options, like a tiny remark that give permission for linkedin to email your entire gmail contact list (i.e. anyone you ever conversed with, like say a guy from craigslist you bought a fishbowl from 7 years ago). Even then I feel like Linkedin is just screwing me in broad daylight while I'm paying my utmost attention.
I normally avoid LinkedIn, and I was reminded why: before I click on anything, I wonder "what are the potential consequences of this? If I click "Accept", what other unspoken contracts am I agreeing to, such as all of my connections being notified that I'm now connected to Chellsea?"
It then occurred to me that maybe I should not use web sites that make me feel that way. Yeah, I'm a little behind the curve sometimes. But whether I'm the customer or recruiters are, I don't see how that's a sustainable business long-term.
LinkedIn is kind of like... troll food.
Surely it would be too creepy to exploit every bit of information available to suggest connections?
No, not too creepy! At LinkedIn if someone searches for you then OBVIOUSLY you MUST know them and want to connect! The clever LinkedIn engineers think "Let's offer a connection to the target of a search for the search originator - that's an engineering challenge, not a complete invasion of privacy creep out."
I can keep LinkedIn out of my mailbox, I can't keep them out of the mailbox of everybody that I have ever sent or received mail from.
LinkedIn is very creepy when it comes to just about everything, IMO.
The interesting thing was this trick, a recruiter creates a fake profile that has the same characteristics of a candidate they are trying to place. They wait for the LinkedIn AI scripts to send their fake profile a list of companies that are looking for people like that fake profile (and thus their actual client) and then they are spamming those companies HR/Jobs/other emails to try to get their candidate in front of the company So much easier than trying to lie your way into figuring out who was hiring and for what.
This is a good way to put something that's been bothering me for a while now: I get that in most "free" websites, I'm the product, not the customer -- but LinkedIn seems to almost go out of their way to remind me of this.
Recruiters can shotgun messages out to anyone who's ever mentioned "Node" in their profile, but I wanted to send ONE message to someone to whom I wasn't connected and found I wasn't allowed -- without paying, of course. LinkedIn isn't even for me.
That said, it really is a useful tool for keeping track of where people have gone and what they're presently up to, I just can't imagine ever using it regularly when I don't entirely trust them.
Yes, it seems that LinkedIn is lacking a vision on how to make looking for a job a better experience.
I'd be suspicious if someone was not updating their profile at least once or twice a year.
Though, in practice, I would just avoid managerial stalking of my employees. So what if someone's keeping their profile up to date? So what if they're checking out the market regularly. We all do it. You'd be a fool not to.
> Why would a manager get agitated about one of his/her people actually updating their skills on their very own site?
Dysfunction is prevalent everywhere in the world. LinkedIn isn't somehow magically exempt because they own the product.
Not very informative to plot a price chart in isolation, without any kind of comparison to the sector or broader stock market...
I actually find LinkedIn very useful, and am kind of baffled by people who say they find zero value in it. I do find many of their practices annoying; it's far from perfect. And I agree with a lot in the article. But I've been working for 20 years, and having a reasonably complete way to search all of my former co-workers, and where they currently work is amazingly powerful. Whenever I am thinking of applying to a job at some company, I can spend 30 seconds looking on LinkedIn to see if I already know someone inside (which not only drastically improves my chances of getting an interview, but also can yield much more candid information about what it's like to work there). Similarly, if I need a professional contact at some company to solve a problem at work, my LinkedIn account is hugely useful.
This might be skewed by the fact that I've worked in some pretty big-name companies, so I have a large network of other people who tend to work at well-known places. But I basically view it as an automatically updating and easily searchable rolodex. And it works great for that.
I also think that LinkedIn is good for references. When I get an application for an open job and want to get further background, I use two tools: LinkedIn and Google.
And when I hear about an interesting company that I may want to work for, I use two tools: LinkedIn and Google.
I recently registered a domain on GoDaddy (I know of all places) and within 12 hours had over 30 requests on LinkedIn from developers looking to sell their services to me. If anything it is a good upsell for GoDaddy by forcing your hand at WhoIs Guard.
Similarly it does seem that installing the LinkedIn app on your phone spies on who you call/contact/look at online which translates into recommendations. A few months ago I had someone give me their business card and I called them the next day to follow up. I had not entered any of their details in my contacts or emailed them prior. After the call I went to connect with them on LinkedIn and sure enough the first person in the "People You May Know" section was this person.
The worst part is, those e-mails are useless. I keep getting ones informing me that there are five jobs changes in my network. I'm actually curious about who has gone where and click the link and it takes me to...well, I don't even know what I'm looking at.
Afters years of working as a freelance writer and not doing too well lately, I took a stab at getting one of those "real" jobs which required references. I decided to look at my LinkedIn profile for the first time in ages to see who might be able to help.
I click "My Network" and get this pop-over that takes up the whole screen asking me to "grow my network" and effectively hiding the information I came for in the first place. How is this supposed to be useful?
My LinkedIn profile now literally tells recruiters to Fuck Off. And still they come.
The only value it has for me, is presenting (generally) valid contact details (eg: email address) for the people I already know and whom I may have fallen out of contact with. That's not huge value though, and several times I've been seriously tempted to just remove my profile forever.
I'd be very happy to provide that and it would be a gold mine for their paying customer, the recruiter.
Now I get tons of recruitment spam for things I wouldn't dream of doing, and the things I'd like to do but haven't yet done aren't visible anywhere.
So many missed opportunities in this product it's amazing.
Across each major industry vertical, it could organise say a quarterly event featuring webcasts and q&a from industry legends, moderated discussions, workshops plus all the networking and promotional activities. Bit like a MOOC but focussed on professionals not students.
It would make the networking aspect of linked-in meaningful. It shouldn't be passive rolodex, linked-in should get off their ass and actually work to help us create real new connections with people we interact with in the events and activities they host.
Huh? It's a company of 8,000+ people, and a random screenshot of 4 profiles leads you to this conclusion? In any company of thousands you're going find at least some people that don't find utility in the product that company is creating. Surely that's obvious? You'd need to actually perform a proper statistical study to know for sure.
Some points here:
1. I don't have access to all that data do that sort of analysis. If you have that access, run the analysis and get back to me. I was writing an opinion piece, not an academic paper.
2. The people in question are all managers and above. A good demographic of LinkedIn's sweet spot.
3. These people in question, I met personally. And each one of them expressed some variant of not seeing a personal need to update their own profile.
4. Most of my personal friends understand that they are supposed to get "something" from their LinkedIn profile - they just don't know what that "something" is.
5. LinkedIn has potential that it is wasting.
- well I gotta trust it, so all of the below I cannot see LinkedIn actually doing but
- become a contact manager. When did I last call / mail this person.
- become a graphical network tool - show me my personal business network
- and remind me who I have not called despite really wanting to
- What about? Did I promise anything? Did they? Keep reminding me of my todos
I shot you a quick email with a private beta invite in case you want to give it a go.
Thanks for the validation. :)
I log in maybe twice a month, and that's sufficient for me. I hope it works for LinkedIn as well, because I'd like them to stay in business, but I'm happy with my level of involvement which I suspect is similar to that of many others who are also overcommitted on other networks like Facebook, Plus, Twitter, etc.
I do find myself spending more time there (i.e. staying logged on for a longer period) because of the blogging/article stream, much of which involves issues I'm interested in -- employment, technology, the markets, future trends. Truly, it is a Facebook for grownups, at least for me and my friends.
This being the case I think there is an opportunity for a lean site with a narrow vertical [e.g. software devs which are heavily recruited by internal recruiters] to dislodge LinkedIn. Of course they'd have to solely sell your resume to recruiters. All the other revenue streams and related issues would have to be dropped.
Though I think software devs have a unique view of Linkedin, in that we have many other avenues for professional networking AND we are heavily recruited at all levels of experience. When the only real way to network is via mutual acquaintances (as opposed to open source projects, chat rooms, etc.) and you aren't getting spammed with every "game changing startup" Linkedin can give you real value.
Yeah but honestly they are all companies I'd personally avoid and haven't been happy with.
> Though I think software devs have a unique view of Linkedin, in that we have many other avenues for professional networking AND we are heavily recruited at all levels of experience. When the only real way to network is via mutual acquaintances (as opposed to open source projects, chat rooms, etc.) and you aren't getting spammed with every "game changing startup" Linkedin can give you real value.
Yes but what value do you get out of it besides access to a network for a job search?
And a farm only has value when there are potatoes to harvest. But you gotta plant and tend the potatoes.
So to the extent that LinkedIn can (or can't) support it, you should look at LinkedIn or wherever as something to maintain, for the day when you are looking for a job.
Why should a person maintain their LinkedIn profile, if they're not actively looking? Wouldn't it make more sense to only update it when they decide to actually look for a job, and not waste time/energy/spam-dealing-with before then?
As a person working in the IT industry for more than a decade, being intimately involved with several major Open Source projects in demand, it sounds debatable (perhaps even wrong), as many in demand skills last longer than fads (eg PostgreSQL clueful-ness).
So, what you're saying doesn't sound right to me. :(
The potential value of LinkedIn is as a vehicle for showing up professionally. Within a company, and often outside, people realize their aspirations by demonstrating what they can do distinctively.
That goes beyond having a personal brand: it involves having relationship equity, reputational equity, and competence – all of which accrue, over time, just as powerfully as interest-earning capital. LinkedIn is a vehicle for accelerating this, which is why it has value as a platform for publishing articles etc.
It's also why the spam issue is serious - to the extent it interferes with that platform.
The problem articulated here stems from a confusion between public and professional identities. They’re not the same thing. They involve different kinds of equity. A public identity requires having a reputation and presence. We need to be able to publish, critique, and show up. LinkedIn is a platform.
A professional identity requires relationships and connection. For managing relationships, we need to be able to prune and prioritize people. Avoiding spam is critical. LinkedIn is a connection point. I too use it to find people and try to contact them.
For both purposes, we need aspirational guidance, damage control (dealing with rumors etc.), and the ability to have one place where people can always find us. To the extent LinkedIn offers these transparently, it can monetize them.
It hasn’t, in my view, lost its vision. It’s grappling with the fact that its vision is complicated. And the tools are not always clear. The user interface gets in the way. Is that a trust issue - or just a user experience issue?
Thanks for posting this . I appreciated this essay and the comments.
They should have aligned themselves with the worker bees, instead they are now synonymous with recruiters. They should have bought stackoverflow and github. I don't k is why the fuck they did not do that. Look at Facebook, it bought Instagram and whatsapp and kept itself relevant. LinkedIn failed in that aspect.
The shift to content was already underway with Pulse et al., but purchasing Lynda indicated that LinkedIn needed to deduce interests and skills from viewing content, rather than get first-hand information from profiles.
In terms of resumes being more complete than LinkedIn, resumes let you do one thing you can't do with a public profile: scope your experience -- which is necessarily simplified to be on one page -- according to the role you're applying for.
LinkedIn has a market cap of $14 billion. Which is just wrong for a company that's been around for years and is still losing money.