So LinkedIn is a giant Rolodex, eh?

The other day I expressed my confusion over the point to LinkedIn. I now have the answer, thanks to an overwhelming number of comments. It’s a giant self-updating Rolodex. And it’s main use is recruitment — employees or freelancers finding work, or recruiters looking for staff.

That explains why it wasn’t making sense to me: I’m not in any of those categories. And when I am looking for work, well, I do media stuff. The people I’d want to contact are very public and easy to find. And I’m not wanting to “grow my business”. Fuck I hate that phrase.

That said, I can see that LinkedIn might be a useful tool for keeping track of the various people I interview for my media projects. Provided that LinkedIn allows me to add my own private notes to contacts — does it? — I’ll give it a go for a couple months and report back.

What also intrigued me is that having my comments posted on Hacker News led to a 2300% spike in traffic overnight — as well as a few people pimping their own internet start-ups. A different culture. Personally, I find the idea of drive-by commenting on a stranger’s website to promote your business to be… tasteless.

I agree with several people’s point that as a social network there isn’t much social in LinkedIn. People only checked back infrequently — such as when they were looking for jobs. I can see that LinkedIn is trying to encourage you to use the site more often, what with groups and stuff, but I got the feeling that this isn’t the way most people use the site. Am I right there?

Finally, as one person put it on Twitter, LinkedIn seems most useful for people who use “network” as a verb. Harsh, but fair.

[Update 30 March 2011: I’ve received a briefing session on LinkedIn, which I’ve now written about in Getting to grips with LinkedIn. I’ll close comments here and you can continue the conversation over there.]

14 Replies to “So LinkedIn is a giant Rolodex, eh?”

  1. @Ferodynamics: Fair point about the numbers. I also forgot to respond to one of your points, which was about the time I’d spent creating my LinkedIn profile. It wasn’t that long, actually. I already had the resumé so it was little more than copy and paste. Anyway, I’ll be interested to see how my experiment goes.

  2. I work for one of the major recruiters in Australasia and was recently hired to oversee a team of head hunters that use social media to find potential candidates. I have many clients who send me roles they are hiring for which I return a list of potential candidates and their public profiles, most of which come from LinkedIn.

    I get paid well to use LinkedIn as a source for hiring candidates and my company see this style of recruitment as the way forward. I have a paid for LinkedIn account but could do my job nearly as well with a free account. Australia has a low unemployment rate and many people are unhappy in their jobs but many are waiting for that tap on the shoulder to move on, my job facilitates that move.

  3. Stilgherrian – LinkedIn is for employees. Entrepreneurs, freelancers, etc. don’t benefit quite as much. I work for EFactor, we are a social network for entrepreneurs. We see a niche opportunity here to benefit entrepreneurs in ways LinkedIn can’t.

    I understand what you feel is lacking from the LinkedIn experience. What could be added?

  4. @Jim: I think your point about Australia’s low unemployment rate hits the nail right on the head. That and that fact that despite the Coalition government’s attempts to legislate a more “flexible” workplace, we still have better protection against unfair dismissals and the like than the US. Australia’s simply don’t seem to be as desperate about finding work or maintaining a network of contacts so they will be able to find a new job when the time comes.

    @Jesse: Ah, another drive-by commenter pimping their start-up. Sigh. But to answer your question…

    Actually, I don’t think I can answer your question about “what [I] feel is lacking from the LinkedIn experience” because it’s arse-backwards. “Having a LinkedIn experience” is not my goal, nor is having an improved LinkedIn experience. That’s your goal, because you’re the one trying to attract users to your service and away from LinkedIn.

    What LinkedIn lacks, and what features your service EFactor needs to include to improve the “experience”, has to be based on goals that I have, or might want to have. I can already maintain a database of contacts on my own computer, using the tools I have, without some internet start-up data-mining my every move. I can already search for people I might want to contact using search engines or asking my existing network of contacts through Twitter.

    What is the problem that EFactor solves for me?

    I think that’s where both LinkedIn and now, especially, EFactor “fail” for me. I’m simply not interested in doing the things you’re offering.

    In the specific case of EFactor, you’re about “the entrepreneurial community”. This is a personal thing, but the very word “entrepreneur” puts me off. It’s just people doing business, but “entrepreneur” seem to be the word used by people who think they’re just a bit more special that everyone else. Who think that merely doing business well isn’t enough. They want, as your website inevitably puts it, to “succeed”.

    And “success” has all the usual symbols attached. On your website, it’s the smiling people rolling in money, the power-suit business clothing, the gold card. Elsewhere it’s all the expensive trinkets advertised in up-market magazines: the cars, the yachts, the designer clothes, the fancy luggage… everything that symbolises that they’re in that top few percent of humans who squander the world’s resources and screw everyone else.

    Why would I want to join a community of those self-centred arseholes?

    And why on Earth would I want to do it in a way that gives away so much of my personal information?

    Actually, I’ve thought of a way you could vastly improved the EFactor experience for me: poison the food of every single one of your members.

    There. That’s that off my chest.

  5. LinkedIn is a highly valuable tool for recruiters looking to bulk out their candidate lists. I’m pretty sure it has other uses. I hosted a webinar about it a couple of years ago, but now I’m just going to get in trouble for using ‘webinar’ and it’s all going to end badly.

  6. @Nick Hodge: I have edited your comment to link to Wikipedia’s article on HyperCard, so as to inform the youngfolk. And to properly put the product name in StudlyCaps, as was the style in those days.

    @Josh: “Bulk out candidate lists”? That’s like cutting your cocaine with baking soda, right? That’ll end badly too.

  7. @stilgherrian You comment on EFactor made my day.

    Also after having a linked in account for a week, I got a good write-up from an ex co-worker, which I may well use, or contact him for a more in-depth one in future. So I would say that it was worth the 20 minutes it took to set up.

  8. @cheshire: Ah yes, I have fixed your linky to your Twitter account. Curiously, your second comment got held as spam, but I suspect that’s because you’ve used the worm of Twitter address with a “#1” in it, which to security-conscious spam filters looks like the start of a program.

    Good to hear you’re getting some value out of LinkedIn. As it happens, their external PR people saw these blog posts and comments, and today have a meeting over coffee with one of them to learn more about how I can use LinkedIn.

Comments are closed.