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Post 13: Connecting in a network

While talking to people over the last month, on of the most common things I hear people say when talking about the LinkedIn network, is how the whole ‘connecting thing feels gross and cheap.’

I know what they mean and you probably do too.

Being connected to someone or not is a vital part of the LinkedIn business model. If you’re not connection the person (or opportunity) you want, then they can charge your for the privilege.

Up until this point I hadn’t given much thought about how customers might connect with one another in this new network – or if they even need to.

But out of interest I looked at my own apps and did a quick audit.

It seems most allow their customers to connect in one of two ways:

  1. Following & Subscribing
  2. Connecting through a request which requires approval

(It’s worth noting all allow different levels of ‘open information’ before you need to connect or follow someone).



There have been conversations this week about the architecture of the network and comments about Pinterest.

• Could you follow someones profile/career like you follow a board on Pinterest?

• Could you ‘pin’ people into buckets like you do with images on Pinterest.

• What happens to your network if you replace connecting with following?

• Of you take the connecting out of LinkedIn and replace it with following, does the product have as much or any value?

These all seem like important questions to consider while we move forward with development.



All I can say at this stage is that the Twitter, Youtube & Instagram ‘follow’ pattern feels like a more human way of doing things. It’s less about who you’re connected too and more about who you’re interested in.

If you’ve ever designed a product, you’ll  know that this one idea has a huge and dramatic effect on the entire network so it’s something that will command a lot more time.

The answer to this question will of course come from thinking about what the problem is the app is solving and which connection method, if any, helps the customer solve that problem the best.


(This is the 13th 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.)


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