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LinkedIn Insights from Jeff Weiner

Last week I spoke with Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, the very useful business-oriented social networking site. We were both at Fortune Brainstorm Tech in the stunning Aspen Meadows Resort. Writing ‘both’ makes it sound as though we were equals. I should point out that Mr. Weiner was on the bill; I was media (code for ‘necessary pain’).

He was very generous with his time, offering great chunks of practical, anecdotal insights into using LinkedIn for B2B sales. This will be on MeetTheBoss TV soon.   At the end of our time, I asked Jeff about something three or four senior execs have said to me: that joining LinkedIn is a little like joining a dating site when you’re in a relationship. One eye on the exit.

After all, recruiters account for one in 20 LinkedIn profiles and, while LinkedIn’s own About Us page talks only of “…being open to opportunities”, Google search results display three direct links to ‘jobs’ services (out of four total links in the first column)while the Wikipedia page decides to put it in a list.

The Value of LinkedIn Insights

1. A contact network is built up consisting of their direct connections, the connections of each of their connections (termed second-degree connections) and also the connections of second-degree connections (termed third-degree connections). This can be used to gain an introduction to someone a person wishes to know through a mutual, trusted contact.

2. It can then be used to find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended by someone in one’s contact network.

3. Employers can list jobs and search for potential candidates.

4. Job seekers can review the profile of hiring managers and discover which of their existing contacts can introduce them.

5. Users can post their own photos and view photos of others to aid in identification.

6. Users can now follow different companies and can get notification about the new joining and offers available.

7. Users can save (i.e. bookmark) jobs which they would like to apply for.

The emboldening is my own, but it’s pretty clear what the value is here. Sign up and make yourself available. So is LinkedIn just an HR key party? And if it is, should you be encouraging your employees to join?   Well, no, it’s not.

LinkedIn has many other virtues of course – and they are working on building in a whole load more. According to Jeff, LinkedIn is moving towards “…where you go to make yourself better at your job”. More Dr Kawashima’s executive training than an HR Grindr.

I am impressed by this and cannot wait for some of the newer functions to become more widely embraced (and, in some cases, available). Many of us spend more time at work than we do at play, and there’s an increasing blurring of the lines. I’ll take any help I can to get better at my job, and, from the feedback we get on MeetTheBoss TV, a lot of you want the same.

Of course, as an employer, you have the right to reserve final judgement until that Wikipedia entry has changed.

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