A friend forwarded an article to me last night – “10 things LinkedIn won’t tell you” – and having spent considerable time over the past year both using LinkedIn and leading workshops on how to use LinkedIn, I have a few thoughts… (Hint: I disagree with most of the article…)
1. LinkedIn is a “jobs site” – Disagree. While it is a jobs site for many people, it isn’t for all of us. Anyone that blindly searches and applies to a job posting on LinkedIn is missing the whole point of LinkedIn, which is to develop connections so that you never have to send a resume blindly to a job posting.
LinkedIn has three main business lines – LinkedIn Talent Solutions (recruiting & jobs), LinkedIn Sales Solutions (tools to help people like me…), and LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (advertisements). Talent Solutions were ~50% of their Q4-2014 revenue. That means there’s a heck of a lot people on LinkedIn for more than jobs.
2. People don’t hang out on LinkedIn: Well, sort of… I’m on LinkedIn all the time every day, but I’m not “hanging out” because I’m working. I’m researching people and learning their backgrounds, connecting with people I’ve recently met, and sending emails to connections/InMails to people I want to me. I occasionally read posts and articles. Maybe this doesn’t qualify as “hanging out,” but I’m sure spending hours and hours on LinkedIn every day.
3. Thanks for the free content – Disagree. When I publish, it’s to show some expertise or share my observations to my immediate network. I don’t care if 1000 or 10,000 people read it. If even 50 or 100 read it and I get a couple of “thumbs up” and comments, I’m plenty good. The content I post is more for solidifying who I am and what I do – it’s not to reach a million people. It’s also validation for people that come across my profile who don’t know me. If their first interaction with me is my LinkedIn profile, postings add soul and personality to the factual information about my work history, projects, and background.
4. Endorsements are only for ego – Agree. I wish LinkedIn would improve this. My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that that the tags help your profile search results. i.e. If I have 100 endorsements for “enterprise sales,” that tells LinkedIn to bump me up a little in their search results. Here’s a post that did some number crunching on this. I find it annoying when I go to a profile and LinkedIn bumps the profile information below the fold because it’s compelling me to endorse someone. Maybe it should be more like recommendations – where you have to put in some effort to request or make an endorsement.
5. The site confusing – Agree. In fact, I wrote a post about this last Spring.
6. Privacy – blah blah blah
7. Needy members will creep you out – Disagree. If someone is contacting me from my network because they need something, um, yeah… that’s the whole point… That’s why I connected with them in the first place. Now… I don’t like to be sold to from my network and I don’t like unsolicited sales pitches – “Hi Scott – Do you have 10 minutes to talk about your lead development strategy because we can help….”, but if people need help with introductions or questions, I’m happy to try.
I occasionally get invite requests from people I’ve never met, and even then in most cases, they are people who at least are either in my industry, the sales profession, software or doing startups. And even in those cases, I usually reply back and say – “Thanks for the connection request. I don’t think we’ve met. Want to do a quick call to introduce ourselves? If the person is serious, they’ll take the time. If they don’t respond, I know I can ignore their connection request.”
8. Fake profiles – Disagree. First I’ve heard this is a problem.
9. Younger users – Disagree. Facebook had this problem too. Every site will go through this because of generational preferences and stigmas. There are plenty of smart people at LinkedIn. They’ll figure this out. Facebook is figuring it out with their mobile strategy. Remember that WhatsApp acquisition last year? Check out Facebook’s Q4 results – it’s all about mobile.
I think the bigger problem is that universities haven’t caught up on the importance of LinkedIn, and now LinkedIn specifically helps this with their “Higher Education” section. I do see this issue when I give workshops and talks at universities and colleges. Too many students think of themselves as “just a student” and instead they should be leveraging that status to be curious and grow their connections. Check out Zachary Lukasiewicz’s LinkedIn profile. The guy did incredible things as an undergrad, using LinkedIn as a tool in his arsenal. Here are a couple of his stories on Quora. More undergrads need to learn to do what he’s done.
10. Share price – LinkedIn has a $33bln market cap. Jeez…. Give it a break. Yes, they have to figure out how to keep growing, and this is a pretty but yes, this is pretty common as a fast-growing company matures as a publicly-traded company. Check out Amazon’s stock price growth rate from 2000-2007. I’d say their doing pretty well right now… If the revenues are there, the stock growth will be there.