LinkedIn recently celebrated a milestone, surpassing 200 million member accounts, which they announced earlier this year. Shortly after that announcement, I received an email from LinkedIn congratulating me on having one of the 1% most read profiles on their social network. For a moment I felt like a big part of the celebration, until I remembered that put me among two million others. Curiously, I seem to know most of them, who have not hesitated to share this bragging right. Apologies, I guess I just joined them!
But that’s not why I love LinkedIn. I love LinkedIn because they have created a fantastic online service. I love LinkedIn because they do clever marketing like telling me unprompted where my profile ranks, which makes me feel good about being part of their community. Last year they sent a similar email thanking me for being someone early to their party, signing up in their first year as an early adopter (I tend to do that sort of thing, but very few beta programs ever thank me, especially a decade later). I love LinkedIn because I am convinced that they are eating their own dogfood, which probably means most of their employees love LinkedIn more than I do.
Here are some other reasons, with numbering left open so I can add more things as I think of them, and you remind me of others:
1) They are transparent. They say what they do, and don’t cause you to think otherwise. Your data is being mined by people you want to mine it for the reasons you want it mined. If you don’t want it mined, you don’t post it.
2) They provide a valuable service that brings me business. It’s my network, I built it. They facilitated my actions. I have hired talent off the site, my former head of Human Resources has used it to identify candidates for open positions, and I have been sourced for consulting work as well as investment opportunities, almost always by people I know and with whom I can quickly build trust. It works.
3) They don’t violate my privacy and I understand their privacy controls. They tell me clearly what they are doing with the information I give them and let me easily block what I don’t want to share either through menus or suppression. I know what I get myself into at all times and I am cool with that.
4) Their ads are relevant and not intrusive. They don’t get in my way. They don’t annoy me. I would advertise here if I had a product or service relevant to segments of the network.
5) I don’t currently subscribe to their premium service, but I might. The price is reasonable for what it offers. The rest is free, and I like that a lot, especially because they respect me in spite of my free use. I am part of the ecosystem and their multiple revenue streams. They don’t discriminate and treat me worse than a paid member because they need all of us active and happy.
6) The site helps me teach recent graduates how to think about presenting themselves and creating a resume. Come to think of it, it helps me do that for people with thirtysomething years of experience. Focus is good.
7) The site forces me to think about keywords that matter to me, which forces me to think about the science of keywords, which is the backbone of internet search.
8) It has been an awesome vehicle for growing my blog. I suspect the same will be true when it is time to release my book.
9) The community self polices. Just try posting something polemic on LinkedIn. The community will remind you this is a place for business, not politics. In fact the community is so dynamic on LinkedIn, it makes the whole thing work, a place of relevancy for smart articles, worthwhile referrals, and relevant personal milestones that matter to readers as much as writers.
10) It is more of a cable channel than a broadcast mishmash. I find useful, targeted business information posted by individuals in my network every day. The weekly email summaries use well-designed filters to point me to posts that interest me. The group subscriptions are equally helpful, and can be personalized for volume.
11) The software is robust. It is solid on all my systems and browsers. It is not an open platform which makes their life easier, but because it doesn’t need to support so many third-party APIs it remains remarkably stable. The mobile app is intuitive and efficient, especially handy on iPad.
12) I am not overwhelmed by the time commitment to get value from LinkedIn. I can use it, not use it, come, go, whatever, and it is always there for me. It takes the right amount of time to be useful, and is seldom a frivolous waste of time. It lets people stay active and visible even when they are busy and engaged, so opportunities don’t slip by because of timing or assumptions. Again, I think a lot of this has to do with the community self-policing. It’s a big enough network to have boundless value, but not overcrowded with unnecessary distractions.
Why did I write this post about LinkedIn? Because since the holiday season, I have been overwhelmed by all the online and mobile brands I don’t love, I’m not even sure I like, and some I have simply abandoned. While that was going on, I longed to present a model of a brand that was getting better in spite of its success. During that same period, my network on LinkedIn led to a whole batch of advantageous stuff, not just for me, but for a lot of people I know. I don’t think it is a coincidence. Good brands are created when good people create and embrace good products.
People, Products, Profits—in that order. The formula still works, at least for me.
I write this entirely unsolicited endorsement for LinkedIn freely and without interest. I don’t currently own the stock, nor do I have an opinion about its valuation. This is about loving the company and its product, not the equity. I don’t know if you can love a stock, because your motives are pretty limited, but I do know you can love a product, a brand, even a company. Hopefully they will love me back and this relationship can continue for a spell.
If you know someone who for some reason has not yet thought it worthwhile to be on LinkedIn, feel free to pass along this post. LinkedIn is a good place to do business, with a solid team running the show.