Friday, October 1, 2010

Understanding LinkedIn: Web of Professional Business Cards

If you were in job market during past several years, chances are you've used LinkedIn to reconnect with your ex-colleagues to find out about opportunities.

LinkedIn has about 80 million members as of September (Jeff Weiner CEO of LinkedIn mentioned 70 million back in July), and they have been around since 2003. In the crowded field of social networking, how does LinkedIn differentiate with ever-growing Facebook, and at the same time compete with Monster or Dice for job posting?

Jeff Wiener CEO of LinkedIn Interview With TechCrunch:
Skip The Fluff, Watch From 5 Mins Into It

Jeff Wiener had an interview with TechCrunch back in July to talk a bit about LinkedIn's vision and how it plans to differentiate with Facebook and Monster. His main selling point of LinkedIn was twofold: Business context and connecting people with opportunities.

1. Business Context

Jeff's betting on the fact that people need business network separate from their personal network. He mentions the example of people wanting to behave differently in business context. When people come home, they have different persona, and people don't necessarily want to mix their business life with personal one. Analogy here is your business card. It doesn't have your home phone number or personal email address.

2. Connecting People with Opportunities

In addition, because LinkedIn is for business networking, it can maintain and connect your work history with your coworker's. Analogy here is Rolodex of business cards. LinkedIn is keeping track of business card Rolodex and connecting them with your coworker's. Since people often look for candidate within the circle of trusted network, LinkedIn believes that it can connect opportunities with right talents.

Jeff stops here during his interview, and moves on to talk about building brand images as any good marketer should. But I think there is another point helping LinkedIn further their success.

3. Valuable Organization Information

LinkedIn is squarely focused on business networking, and has up-to-date organization chart of large companies as their database. This affords LinkedIn a huge opportunity. This opportunity was validated by Salesforce acquiring earlier this year. Not only LinkedIn can make business out of connecting talents with opportunities, it can make use of organization's HR history to map out where companies are really investing.

2008 Financial Crisis Was A Boon For LinkedIn
As People Looked For Opportunities
Would these be enough differentiator to sustain LinkedIn's business among fast-growing Facebook and other job posting sites like Monster?

So far it has been. 2008 financial crisis and high unemployment rate among skilled professionals helped LinkedIn become more valuable to shifting work force. With rise of Facebook, LinkedIn is also benefiting as cleaner and more professional alternative to Facebook.

Challenge for LinkedIn is to remain as that: clean and professional. Protecting users from email spam of bogus network invitation and fake identities need to be first priority to LinkedIn as they continue to expand. As long as LinkedIn executes on those priorities, I see a bright future for LinkedIn.

And of course, Yes, I agree with Jeff: finding right talent will continue to be the building blocks of successful business.

1 comment:

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