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Friday, July 06, 2007

The Dark Side of AJAXy, All-Seeing LinkedIn

Sorry bout the overwrought headline - thought if I started with a ZDNet vibe you might be more likely to read. :)

In the recent past here I've defended LinkedIn against critics. As the service grows, certainly it seems that many users must agree with me because I'm getting more requests to Link In than ever. Most people (OK, all) are using their real names; the profiles don't contain louche photos; no commentary on Kate and Becks and Posh and Pete, or whoever, either. It's a bit sad that I can't waste my time on Facebook or worse, but honestly, maybe that's for the best.

On a not-unrelated note, there's been a resurgence of talk by Very Important Bloggers considering declaring email bankruptcy due to the overload of the channel. On this topic, I think it completely misses the point that "very short emails" will improve the situation. When I'm dealing with real workflow, real business, or real re-acquaintance type communications, long is fine! It's the volume of nuisance mails and mails of unknown intent that bog me down. I won't be declaring bankruptcy but for many of those, let's just say they'll be marked Past Due for many months to come. In that case, don't email. Please call. Or ask someone I really know well to get in touch. Which brings us to LinkedIn.

There are, in spite of my attempts at optimism, some clear problems with LinkedIn.

1. You give people a "permission" channel, and they'll find a way to spam it. Make it searchable and categories, they can target their spam. Recruiters and other questionable interrupters have begun using this service to bother people. A variation on the trick is to have the bothering come from someone at the VP level at a major company. That looks like potential business development when all it is is a search for referrals for potential hires for qualified senior managerial positions. (And a great way to save the fee you'd otherwise pay the recruiting firm, but now I think you're spamming me directly instead of blaming the evil headhunters.)

2. Corporate espionage. Who you've just added to your list can tip off competitors about your business development efforts, private deals, and secret strategies. A friend had partnership talks with several large online properties. Her direct competitor became aware of this right away simply by spying on her LinkedIn profile. Maybe worse: sometimes you're not in talks with anybody, or up to anything in particular, but because of the timing of your new contacts being added, people jump to erroneous conclusions.

All fretting aside, many people have spoken about doing a "cull" of their LinkedIn list and eliminating people they don't seem to recognize or know well. You do so at the risk of offending people, of course, but think of the upside: now the relationships you do have become more meaningful. I think probably the worst reason not to do a cull would be that it looks like you have more friends or admirers if you leave more contacts on your list (a la Orkut: you have 353 "stars" and 448 "hearts," and many Brazilian pals!). So maybe I'll set aside an arbitrary number I hope to pare back to: 42.

The positives of LinkedIn are still there. You get current profiles, current email addresses, and lots more besides. It keeps a part of your life out of email. But like email, the channel surely needs to be managed.

As for linking into people at your own company... I think that completely misses the point. Why do people do this? Go for lunch, or at least coffee. If your company is really big, doesn't requesting to link in to some distant superior just emphasize your lowly status? Better to contact by conventional means, or to otherwise make yourself conspicuous (through achievement, etc.).

Is anyone else culling their LinkedIn list of relative unknowns? Drop me a line.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"I Hate LinkedIn"

In the wake of a stunning report that Toronto leads the world in FaceBook membership (we're as proud as Brazil is for leading the Orkut race), I've heard many fully-grown friends talking about a sudden uptick in their FaceBook usage. Old friends contacting them, etc.

As part of that discussion, usually someone will chime in with "I hate LinkedIn." Various reasons are given about cheesy insurance salesmen types trying to ride on one's coattails or intrude on one's "business privacy."

Meanwhile though the same folks are proudly talking about FaceBook.

I think I see what's going on here. 45 is the new 22. Isn't it!?!? Please say it is!!??

(The population is aging, after all. If a lot more people are turning 70 and 80, young is, well, a lot of people under 50. Just the other day, a neighbor announced that she thought I was an "angry, frustrated young man" for a minor jolt I gave to my own fence while parking my car. I was flattered!)

God forbid anyone be seen to be actively networking or doing their job. Talk about a dork-fest!

But being on FaceBook - this will be cool, for another 38 weeks.

One famous graybeard in the blogosphere actually announced that he couldn't use LinkedIn in his company because he'd be "made fun of". Self-esteem issues?!?

Personally, I don't hate Linked In. But that's because I'm not under the impression that the tools I use for business define me. Although I will grant you, I'm definitely not sending people emails from an AOL address using large, orange fonts.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Sunday, March 04, 2007

LinkedIn Is the New Classmates.com!

LinkedIn has done it again. Your past educational institutions are typically an important part of your LinkedIn profile. Now, you can browse everyone in the system who shares that affiliation.

I hear a lot of skepticism about LinkedIn in day-to-day conversations, but I think they've really nailed this thing. They keep releasing important new features and have been more viral than their competitors.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Glass 99.8% Full

A tagline on LinkedIn emails says "Executives at 499 of the Fortune 500 companies use LinkedIn."

I guess if you were a "glass is 0.2% empty" kind of guy, you would have written "Those bastards at Murphy Oil don't use LinkedIn."

[N.B.: I don't know if it's Murphy Oil Corp. This post for entertainment purposes only. Please, no wagering.]

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




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