A friend recently confided in me that she is using LinkedIn to meet people. After trying to meet people on many of the popular dating sites, including Tinder, she is turning this attention to LinkedIn. As a LinkedIn expert, she asked me for advice on branding for all her profiles. This prompted a question: is LinkedIn the new pick up site for professionals?
LinkedIn is changing and fast. We already know that LinkedIn is quickly moving away from the traditional job site it started out as and now is trying to be a fully operating social site. Check out my blog on how I believe LinkedIn is turning into the next Facebook for some context. But has it gone too far? Will these changes improve the functionality of LinkedIn or will it become too much like Facebook and ruin the essence of the product? After my friends call I decided to dig a little deeper and decide for myself. Three things really stood out to me in regards to the change in culture on LinkedIn.
1) Content: The first thing I noticed was how much my daily news feed is changing. As a social media consultant you can understand that I am online quite a bit. I have seen the changes in Facebook becoming more business oriented and also how LinkedIn is becoming more social. I remember a time when there were no blogs and you couldn't upload any pictures! Now my newsfeed is filled with inspirational MEMEs and lifestyle blogs. I read quite a good blog on the health benefits of kalerecently, not the traditional LinkedIn material.
2) Connections: I have a lot of discussion with my clients on who they should connect to on LinkedIn. Traditionally you would only connect to people you had met and were doing business with. Today people connect to anyone that can help them achieve their goals. It doesn't matter if you have met them, in fact it is the place to make an introduction without annoying them with an unexpected phone call.
I have clients promoting their books and want to spread your message to the world, so they connect to pretty much everyone! I also have clients who only want six clients a year in a very specific niche, so they are very particular about who they connect to. The strategy you take depends on your situation, but the overall culture is that people are there to grow their networks so connecting with people is more relaxed.
For my dating friend, she would connect to people who she liked their photos, style and who worked in similar fields. She found dating sites didn't give her space to talk about what was really important to her and with so many people fighting to stand out it was challenging to just be herself. She loves work so wanted someone similar to herself. She figured quite a few people meet their life partners at work so what's wrong with connecting and chatting to people via LinkedIn?
3) Businesses: The original power users of LinkedIn were recruiters. They are still there of course, but there are hundreds of other business sectors using LinkedIn to gain new clients. Digital marketers, social media experts and website designers are everywhere - I'm sure you have been approached a few times by them! But did you realise to models and artists are using LinkedIn too?
Most of my friends in artistic area don't see the value of LinkedIn until I point out that that is the social site where the money is. It's great to have fans of Instagram and YouTube, but the corporate sponsors are on LinkedIn. Just do search for 'models' and you will see what I mean.
Will these changes on LinkedIn ruin the business nature of the product? I don't think so. My opinion is that they reflect broader changes to our business culture. As a society we are blending work and social more and more as people move away from the traditional full time job model and into lifestyle businesses.
Finally did my friend meet the love of her life? Not yet, but she is happier meeting people in the area she is comfortable with rather than trying to be someone she is not and that is a win in my book.
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