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Post 12: LinkedIn, who, when, why, where?

Today I took an in-depth look at LinkedIn; who uses it, when, why and where. The point of this is to try and see where there might be some holes in the product or opportunities to build new products and add value.

I was interested to see if I could validate some of my own ideas about the product, and also discover some new insights about who uses it, when, why and where.

All of my research in this post comes from the Melbourne based Beers, Blokes & Business podcast (@BeersBlokesBiz) from last week where they discussed LinkedIn for 56mins. (Listen here)

The opinions varied greatly, but I found some really interesting insights that I think are worth sharing and help shed some light on my work.

To give you some context, the guys in the podcast (I think) are all business owners, in their 30’s – 40’s, with an interest in technology and business.

As a way of structuring the info, I’ve divided the key quotes into Pro-LinkedIn and Anti-LinkedIn with a summary at the end.

 

Pro-LinkedIn

“I use it as a live rolodex that updates itself.”

 

“You’ve got to realise what LinkedIn is. It is changing to more of a content sharing, less noisy platform.”

 

“…It has replaced the CV.”

 

“When I was a Deloitte Digital we would give a client a list of the consultants who would be working on their project and their areas of speciality. The first thing they would do is Google their name and if LinkedIn didn’t come up first and match what we had said we had a problem. It was a great way of validating to clients what a team could do.”

 

“We got over 250 applicants for a design job in one week. I used Google to find them on LinkedIn so I could research them and cull. I’ll only interview 5.”

“I don’t have a problem with LinkedIn, I find it a great way of managing contacts.”

“The major advantage is for business development.”

“They do SlideShare better than anyone else.”

“The thing I really like is when someone changes gigs (jobs)  in my network and you get a notification.”

“Birthday notifications are good in LinkedIn. I normally email them directly.”

“It’s a great research tool and a place to find out things you want to know and need to know.”

“I had a customer write a review and I had a call from that recommendation on LinkedIn.”

 

Anti-LinkedIn

“I don’t use it a great deal, because people are trying to sell to me.”

“It’s a giant spam machine I can do without.”

“…I’m not saying it isn’t useful for business, I am saying that the majority of spam I get these days…I can trace back to LinkedIn.”

“I say ‘No’ to 80% of the people who want to connect with me.”

“There are faults with LinkedIn in the way it asks you to connect with people.”

“It is a bit of a numbers game, ‘The Race to 500’, 501 because then everyone things I’m popular.”

“That’s the thing that’s the problem! I don’t actually look at who they are and what job they’re in because that doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is the humanity of them and they way they connect. I want to judge people on a human level. Shouldn’t that be what we’re aiming for?”

“LinkedIn makes it super hard to disconnect from someone.”

“The other problem I have with LinkedIn is the interface, it’s just horrible and counterintuitive and hard to use.”

“(the interface)…is a mashup. It’s had things added to it.”

“I don’t think it’s a deep enough snapshot. Its a static view of where you are in that point of time, ‘heres a rear vision mirror of where I used to work.'”

“That’s why it’s broken! Who want’s to be judged by a linear process of what you’ve done.”

“(when I was in advertising)…when someone applied for a job, the first think I would do was Google the, and if the first thing that came up wasn’t a platform or blog they owned, I wouldn’t interview them. It couldn’t be LinkedIn.”

“I don’t want to see what someone’s done, I want to see what they think. I want to get into their mind.”

“It’s a business networking tool, not a social platform.”

I found the guys thoughts really interesting (thanks boys!), and if you’re interested I’d encourage you to listen to the podcast. Some clear themes emerged that I had wondered about.

1. LinkedIn is great for contact management and business development.
I think LinkedIn does a great job of managing my professional contacts, but I can’t say I use it much for biz dev. However I know some people do so it’s encouraging to see support for that train of thought here.

2. ‘Connecting’ feels cheap or something.
There is something here around ‘connecting’ with people within the network… Too much emphasis on how many connections (and now) endorsements you have. It all feels a bit shallow.

3. If you don’t take the time to manage your connections/groups, you will get spammed.
I didn’t capture all of the discussion around spam, but while some of the blokes claimed to be spammed regularly by LinkedIn, there were equally others who didn’t have this problem, they felt because the carefully curated their connections.

4. The interface and user-experience sucks.
Not something I wasn’t already almost certain of, but they are a huge company that will hire some good design talent, or use what they’ve got already correctly in time.

5. Your industry will likely determine how you view LinkedIn.
I thought two of the most interesting insights from the podcast were around HR. Our ex-Deloitte Digital guy said that LinkedIn was really important to prove to clients that their consultants had the skills required. Whereas the guy who came from advertising said that he viewed having a LinkedIn profile was a negative thing for applicants.

And this is where this whole project starts to become really interesting. LinkedIn, whether it does a quality job or not, is the default, benchmark and go-to platform for white collared, well paid, university educated graduates. But there seems to be lots of other professional and even entire industries that struggle to see the value in the product as it currently is.

If there is an opportunity anywhere, I think it lies somewhere around here.

 

(This is the 12th post in a series as I explore some digital product ideas for 30 days. All my work is being published here on my blog. Click here to read the other posts, scroll down.)

2 Comments on "Post 12: LinkedIn, who, when, why, where?"

  • Nathan says

    Never been a Linkedin user until yesterday, when I created a fake account to see what it could do (for business development purposes).

    As a non-user, the unsubscribable spam you’d get from people wanting to “connect”, was enough to leave an everlasting slight on their brand.

    During sign-up, it tries TWICE to ruin your reputation twice by infiltrating your e-mail account (to spam others). It’s also a bit big brother to suggest connections to others who have logged into Linkedin with the same IP.

    I’m still not sure what it can do (of course a fake account will never get far). But I can imagine that with legit contacts, and a brief to make connections with people, it could be quite useful.

    I guess it’s not what you know but who you know. Sometimes all you need is a “connection” to get the real conversation going.

    • nhallam says

      Thanks for the thoughts Nathan.

      It’s been a long time since I signed up for the service, but it sounds like nothings improved much…

      I would be really interested to hear what value it returned to someone in the print industry. There might be 100’s of white collar suits who are dying to get some bespoke printing done for their wedding or work place or maybe not.

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