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Celebrating five years of LinkedIn! = the end of LinkedIn?

2011 July 29

Recently, on July 15th, it was exactly five years ago, when I accepted an invitation to join LinkedIn. It now seems like I have been on LinkedIn forever. The originator of the invite, Richard Spooner, is a former colleague, who I really appreciated for his personality and experience. But to be honest: I had no clue as to what I got myself into. Here are just a few remarks in commemoration of that fine day.

Starting up 

Although I do take note(s), I do not recall the first weeks with LinkedIn. It actually did feel a bit awkward to enter my profile, as if I was looking for a job. I invited a few “friends” just to see what would happen. Not that much. Every now and then I invited someone and also got invited by others. Think I got turned down a few times as well; just part of life.

When you have hardly any (digital) network, LinkedIn does not do that much for you. But at some point in time I passed the tipping point.

A LinkedIn Group 

Not long after I joined, I started a LinkedIn group: Geo-Information Nederland. The same name as the society, of which I am currently president. Purpose was also not yet known, but then again, starting a group was not that much effort either.

As it has become easier to make a group, a sheer endless number of groups have started up. But as starting has become easier, keeping up with a group has become relatively harder. It is not that hard to keep with this group. We now have over 1,500 members and slowly a digital discussion is taking off.

I will send updates into groups when I deem them relevant for that group. It is not a daily thing, more like: thought like you might want to know.

Sometimes awkward experiences

Rules or guidelines can help you get through the social media jungle. I received some awkward invites, like ‘we were both in line yesterday’, ‘we emailed last year’ or ‘would like to meetup with you’. That last one really is ok. We have emailed before is not good enough, but ‘we have emailed a few times and btw I live in Argentina now’ is. I have not kept to my own guidelines every single time. My main point is still: people I have met or will meet shortly.

LinkedIn must be heaven on earth for HR folks. I at least turned down almost as many as we now have members in the group. And some were quite offended (sorry about that). Have to admit I find it interesting to see who has been looking at my profile. Even when they are from a foreign political party.

As several connections mix private and business messages to a level above ‘more then I can bear’, I simply starting hiding their feed. I am not big on disconnecting (unfriending if you will), but when I found out a connection is hiding his/her connections, I will just to that.

Mashing up social media

As much as like several social media tools, I only seldom mash’em up. I will send a tweet (mostly a thought for today; using the #li hashtag) to update my LinkedIn status only if it could be of interests to all (most) connections. The same for WordPress blog updates. The subject is likely to be related to social media.

The Slideshare application I only use if a recent presentation could be of interest to all as well. If not, I will upload directly from slideshare itself. Not sure if the Amazon application counts for social media, but it is my favorite one (as I made a confession to books before). It has lead to many great conversations.


Last year I thought I’d do something different (for a change) when asked to present on Open Innovation, Social Media and… GIS. I included a practical example of open innovation, by using both LinkedIn’s and Esri’s open api’s, and by requesting and getting help from a worldwide community.

It was a great experience to map your LinkedIn connections and the final presentation (at the GIS Conference) was a true co-operation of many.

Multiple benefits?

Although I have a surveying degree, I find it superfluous to measure everything, everywhere, every time. Yes, it does take time to be active with LinkedIn, but then again being active in any network takes time. I have not wasted office hours on LinkedIn, but now have clear benefits when I quickly want to reach someone whose coordinates I do not know right away.

Also, I can be better found and have been able to connect to and for others (for jobs, to our company, and to other connections).

Before I meet someone, I will check his/her profile and actually expect others to do the same. I hope my LinkedIn profile serves as an accelerator to open innovation. I do not keep up a list to measure a true ROI (in time), but I keep a list of anecdotal evidence (for those interested).

The end of LinkedIn

Networks of (real) connections or their digital representation are not bound to go away. But some of my (very) best connections are not on LinkedIn. I wonder what would happen if we were to rate each other. Would I really like to be viewed as a 4 (out of 10) and still see the other as an 8 (out of 10)?

Also, what is someone’s balance between inviting others and being invited by others? Would you like to see that score next to your profile? To be sure, LinkedIn has a vast database of interpersonal relations. Must be really great to be able to data mine that! And create infographics like InMaps, which for me clearly showed I am from France.

As to the end of LinkedIn, I do not see one insight. It has deserved it’s place on my android and chrome tab. And it seems as if I have been on LinkedIn for ever (and two weeks).

(next blog will be about how I use social media in general).

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