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Goldman Sachs recently upgraded LinkedIn to BUY as the social network derives income from subscriptions as opposed to advertising. This is wonderful news for those that have invested a lot of time and money in LinkedIn. What concerned me was that the article went on to mention all the recruitment companies who are using LinkedIn, which I think is great, but is this all that LinkedIn is good for?
I have a number of questions for LinkedIn: Are the future plans for LinkedIn going to support the individual and business interests of all users, or are you quite happy to position the social network as a tool for recruiters and job seekers? How will you ensure that you cater for the requirements of all your users? What changes are you willing to make to keep everyone happy?
Recruitment services are essential but so are other business services
There is no doubt that recruiters play an essential role for businesses as a whole as they proactively find suitable employees for companies that are hiring. Where this doesn’t work very well is when you have a social network, where business conversations are taking place (eg LinkedIn groups) and you have recruiters requesting to join groups for one purpose only, and that purpose is not to enter into dialogue with like-minded individuals. I have spoken with many individuals that just don’t bother with LinkedIn groups anymore for this very reason. In my case, I created nine different groups created specifically to host value-adding conversations relating to the likes of Executive Leadership, Human Capital Management, Technology, Risk Management, Tax , etc. When I receive a request to join all nine groups from a person that happens to have “head hunter” in his profile, I am certain this person is not going to be having any business-related conversations but will be casing my group members.
So what is the solution and how do we keep all LinkedIn users happy?
LinkedIn, the type of behaviour described above discourages businesses from using your social network for B2B social media purposes and it discourages individuals from joining these forums hoping to derive business value. Value-adding features and functions that are provided for LinkedIn users such as access to company, individual, media (and other) updates, integration of WordPress and Twitter (plus a load more), access to eBooks, countless ways in which to initiate and manage dialogue between connections are all great reasons why businesses would want to participate actively.
A simple solution to this is to provide two different user interfaces to LinkedIn, one designed specifically for recruiters and another for those that want to use LinkedIn for value-networking. Businesses engaged in B2B social networking on LinkedIn will be more interested in having their value-adding content (blog posts, Twitter stream, etc), groups and group discussions to be more visible (above the fold on their profile). Recruiters would be more interested in viewing the person’s current employer and job role, employment history, qualifications and references.
I would be very interested in feedback from readers on the points I have raised. Am I missing the boat or should LinkedIn consider these types of suggestions seriously?