Posted by: David Stewart | August 12, 2011

You can’t be too connected

This week I achieved 500 connections on LinkedIn.com (http://www.linkedin.com/in/davest)

Which is funny, because I was pretty much convinced that LinkedIn was dead a year ago.

A clear indication of its irrelevancy was that it was the butt of at least one joke. I can’t remember the whole thing, but it was some speaker or comedian saying something like, "Years from now we will think about all of our information scattered all over the internet. For example, I’m sure I still have a LinkedIn account out there somewhere."

What changed? Why didn’t they go the route of MySpace and become an inactive niche site? The biggest change came when they announced their initial public offering. Suddenly, I noticed a lot of activity and requests to connect. Certainly the majority of my 500 connections came in the last six months.

Why is LinkedIn so successful? Of course, some people use it to find job opportunities. I admit, I have used it to check out candidates for positions I am hiring.

I found it really helpful to connect with former colleagues where their email address had changed. For example, one of my former employees died a couple of years ago, and I was asked to write a statement about him which could be read at his funeral. Since he had only worked for me for a couple of months before leaving this company where he had worked for decades, I felt really inadequate to do the task justice. But he had worked for many years for another manager, and it was someone with whom I had a very old work connection. How was I to get to this former colleague to write this eulogy? Fortunately, we were able to connect on LinkedIn and a much better eulogy resulted.

But I think the recent growth goes straight to usability of the site. Whenever I connect with someone, I get a stream of recommendations of who else to connect with. Some of these recommendations are people I don’t know, but a lot of time I find myself making a few more connection requests.

I never feel compelled to dwell on LinkedIn to chit-chat with people, like on Facebook. The vast majority of time I spend on the site is in connecting with people and expanding my network.

Congratulations to LinkedIn for not becoming a zombie of the internet.

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