Happy Birthday Linkedin

LinkedIn turned 10. They’ve produced a lovely timeline of their history to take you through the highlights.

The site has come along way from the early days when functionality was cranky and no-one was there.

In the last year the whole site has been re-designed; it looks sleek, functions well – on all platforms, and is increasingly content-rich. You can a look back at LinkedIn’s past homepages; interesting to see the annual changes that evolved into today’s design.

It’s a site with a future, providing a way for 225 million professionals to collaborate on any subject – I regularly use the groups function to get answers or feedback. And the platform has become a real threat to recruiters as companies can manage more of their recruiting themselves.

When I heard it was 10 I went to check how long I’d been a member (you can find this information under your account settings), and how many people had joined before me (you can find this by checking the number in the URL when you view  your own profile).

I was 1,097,773rd person to join LinkedIn, which seems a lot but puts me in the earliest 0.5% of members. I’ll be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my relationship with LinkedIn next year on 13 September. Bring on the champagne!

too early to celebrate

Would you like to connect?

I’ll connect to you on linkedin if I have met you – could be virtually- in a work context. I will sometimes make exceptions if you’re someone really interesting.

So when I got an invite from a name I didn’t know with just the generic invite text I went to linkedin site and checked the profile.

Not a company I’ve ever had contact with but is working in the same field. Has over 500 connections, one of whom is a first level connection to me  and a very good friend. Interesting.

So I contact my friend, who has put me in contact with some excellent people in the past and on whose recommendation I would connect to someone, I ask him how well he knows the requestor.

Not well it turns out, my friend – being a far more generous person than I – has a very open approach to linkedin connects with almost anyone who requests it. As it happens he approved the request about 20 minutes before I got my request.

It is of course completely fine to use Linkedin to “harvest” contacts, I just feel that what you are creating is a telephone directory and is not a reflection of your personal network.

I’ve hit ignore.

How do you decide whether to connect?

Twitter for Executives

It’s the latest fashion, everyone is on it, it’s in the news. Is your CEO on Twitter?

And a tougher question, should CEOs be on Twitter?

Yes – but with a caveat, Mashable has come up with the “5 Habits of Successful Executives on Twitter” (I think they mean 5 Habits of Executives Who are Successful on Twitter, but I forgive them). There list includes

  1. They are their brand’s conscience
  2. They don’t sell they share
  3. They are real human beings
  4. They write well
  5. They commit

It’s a good list, as far as it goes, I’d add that they need to have something to say, and what they say needs to match the brand. Of course the CEO’s personality should already be congruent with the brand – but that’s not always the case.

Social Media and Politics

Clay Shirky, author of “Here Comes Everybody“, is known for his thought on collaboration, networking and new ways of working in a networked world. Here he talks about the geometric increase in the conversations and the “global, social, ubiquitous and cheap” nature of social media.

The talk presages the global use of social media both within Iran and globally to share information and co-ordinate action around the Iran Election.

He points to Barack Obama’s campaign and the high impact social media had, indeed there is already a book on the subject “Yes we did” by Rahaf Harfoush (which I’ve just ordered).

Perhaps the most interesting comment is on the reverse transfer – in the Nigerian election in April 2007 voters used SMS as a “citizen watch” on what was happening at the polls. In November 2008 Americans used phone cameras to take images and video. Both actions had the same social objective, and both used the technology ubiquitous in the respective countries. But the idea started in a “developing” country and moved to a “developed” country. A reverse of what might be generally expected.

I’m reminded of a conversation reported in Don Tapscott’s book “Digital Economy” published in 1996. He’d asked his daughter to participate on a “consumer of the future” panel she answered

“… I don’t understand why you adults make such a big deal about technology. Kids just use computers to do stuff. We don’t think of them as technology. Like a fridge does stuff. It’s not technology. When I go to the fridge, I want food that is cold. I don’t think about the technology that makes food cold.”

I think the reason social media is so incredibly powerful is that we can forget the technology, and just be human.