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LinkedIn finally starts to "get it"

Ok, the title to this post sounds arrogant and I don't mean it to ... read on.

Konstantin Guericke, LinkedIn's VP Marketing, announced at the Web 2.0 conference a deal with AOL to integrate presence service onto their profile, as per this citation from Forbes:

LinkedIn Corporation, operator of the world's largest business network, today announced that it has signed an agreement with America Online, Inc. to integrate its AIM(R) service into LinkedIn to provide LinkedIn users with AIM presence information, so that they can easily see when their LinkedIn connections are online and available for real-time communications. This new capability for instant text, voice and video communication will give the more than 3.8 million LinkedIn users a new way to maintain and strengthen their relationships with relevant business contacts, such as clients, business partners and former co-workers.

Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn [says:]"By providing AIM presence information within LinkedIn, we provide our members with another vehicle for maintaining and strengthening existing business relationships."

For an example of a presence server, this blog (currently) indicates my Skype presence on the right sidebar. (As you read the blog, you know whether I'm connected on Skype or not, and whether I'm available for a call or away from the computer. In this sense, the blog acts as my extended, virtual self (my augmented presence), and the various postings are topics we may talk about or chat about at greater length, if any are of interest to you as well. Alternatively, you may leave me a comment, which is an asynchronous form of communication.) Likewise, my profile on LinkedIn will also indicate my AOL presence when the companies implement the announced partnership. LinkedIn profiles are "static" biographies which rarely get updated, while blogs are "dynamic" personalities that evolve continually, according to the author's rhythm of posting.

The announced presence indicator starts to make communications more fluid on the notoriously "rigid" LinkedIn. To date, you could contact or connect with someone through the system, but would then have to continue communications off the LinkedIn platform, through e-mails. This is in contrast to many other social networks, including OpenBC, Ecademy, Orkut and particularly aSmallWorld, which has had a presence server and chat forum for a while now.

Also, as a participant on Vincent Wright's very active 2,200+ member MyLinkedInPowerForum (MLPF), I've read and contributed to ongoing discussions on what leads people connect to each other. Many discussions center on Mark Granovetter "The strength of weak ties" theory, in which he argues that "weak ties, e.g. the connections between colleagues, acquaintances etc., are more important for personal advancement, such as getting good jobs, than the strong ties of family and friendship." (from Wikipedia). The point is, how do you meet these weak ties

  • LinkedIn's philosophy so far has been to favor linking with people you have met and maintain relationships with. As your network grows, you can start to identify and connect with people based on your direct connections's recommendations and in theory, you are separated by anyone else on earth by just 6 people ("degrees") on average.
  •  
  • An alternate philosophy, referred to as "object-centered sociality", maintains that you often meet people through shared interests. For instance, you might exchange cards and conduct business with someone at a professional conference, without identifying who you know in common. Much, if not most, of business occurs this way, as do other parts of social life. Although it's possible to be a member of the same professional group on LinkedIn, it's far from the preferred way of connecting with others. In fact, it has been easier to get to know people at MLPF and later connecting with them at LinkedIn. Through discussions on topics of common interest, we can establish a meaningful direct connection on LinkedIn, without bothering to figure out who can link us up. This activity occurs off the LinkedIn platform, unfortunately*.

As such, LinkedIn continues to be a better place to referring people to for an online resume and endorsements, rather than for strengthening your relationship with them by communicating with them. The AOL presence server will help in this respect as well, by suggesting a common platform on which to communicate. Although I prefer chatting on Skype, switching costs are virtually nonexistent, particularly when you use a multiple-chat client like Trillian, which supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC.

My profile on LinkedIn is here.

*Note: time and again people have connected with each other professionally and socially and have formed relationships with each other long before meeting in person (telegram, telephone, internet ...) but it's not always easy to identify prospective partners. On the other hand, LinkedIn has perhaps the most extensive and international network of professionals and executives, yet it has not been easy to communicate with them. Let's hope for improved LinkedIn community areas (ie. "telecoms professionals", etc.) and LinkedIn Mobile (or LinkedIn Wireless), which shouldn't be too far off as GoogleNet gets built in San Francisco, where 342,000 people maintain LinkedIn profiles.

Update: This fascinating post at Bubble Generation explains how combinatorial gains are superior to exponential gains:

More simply, Web 2.0 is about the shift from network search economies, which realize mild exponential gains - your utility is bounded by the number of things (people, etc) you can find on the network - to network coordination economies, which realize combinatorial gains: your utility is bounded by the number of things (transactions, etc) you can do on the network.

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October 6, 2005 in Social Media & Networks | Permalink

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Comments

Alex,
I couldn't agree more with you.
It's about time the so-called "social" players opened-up to the reality of the social beings that we are; i.e. start mutually acknowledging the other circles of influence, if at all by recognizing that we have multiple identities and therefore multiple presenceS.
Sure, by doing so, they lower the defenses of their guarded silos - but they gain by playing the Metcalfe's gain to the fullest...
When do we meet for coffee??
Best,
Yann.
PS: NetVestibule supports AIM presence and LinkedIn presence for a while now. We also have direct Flickr and Amazon linkage - again, acknowledging that users live in the eco-system at large and not in a bubble (that is meant to burst!).

Posted by: Yann | Oct 7, 2005 12:09:05 PM

Alex,
this is the same reason I see for eBay having bought Skype. Presence. You'll be able to say: I'll buy this now. And intantly having a message from your online dealer.
Regards,
André

Posted by: André Ribeirinho | Oct 8, 2005 7:22:21 PM

You can't talk about LinkedIn without mentioning the LinkedIn Contacts Management tool.

This tool is a freeware to all MyLinkedInPowerForum members and LinkedIn users.

The tools give you the edge in using LinkedIn for business purposes. It downloads all your LinkedIn contacts details/requests/outstanding invitations to a personal database on your PC.

Then, with an easy to use GUI you can make smart selections and manipulations of the data and Email the selected group of contacts. You can do multi accept/reject of requests; you can resend multiple outstanding invitations or withdraw them and much more.

To download the LICM application:

Go to: www.megaas.co.nz
Select the Demos/Downloads page
Scroll down to the LinkedIn icon
Download the installation ZIP file.

Read the Readme file and register at the support forum:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MngLinkedIn/

Remember - there is a "payment" involved - you have to let at least 10 of your LinkedIn contacts know about the system....


Posted by: Arnnei | Nov 8, 2005 4:19:30 AM

I've googled "Trillian for Social Networks" and found this post. Well ... if you're looking for an aggregate of social networks, Spokeo.com is it!

Spokeo combines all your friends from MySpace, LiveJournal, Friendster, Youtube, ... all into one destination. Of course, it supports RSS/Atom feeds. UI-wise, Spokeo looks like a multi-media RSS reader. Technically however, it works more like Google News. Instead of news, Spokeo tracks millions of blogs, photos, and videos.

I am sure that there's nothing else like Spokeo. I hope you find it useful, and we look forward to your feedback/review.

Posted by: Harrison | Nov 21, 2006 5:19:49 PM

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