02 January 2014

LinkedIn: A Decade of Making Relationships Matter

The Philippines is a nation that loves social networks. It boasts the most number of users for then social network giant Friendster. It is the 8th most connected country for Facebook. But ask the average Filipino what LinkedIn is, and most probably one gets a blank stare.

That goes for any average user in any country.

Basically, LinkedIn is a social network.

It is not the usual social network people are accustomed to like Facebook. It brands itself as a network for professionals. People join LinkedIn not to talk about their personal lives but to connect with others to enrich and expand their business and career through networking.

It’s about knowing and meeting people within one’s own industry without leaving the office or attending conventions and seminars. Better yet, it’s connecting with like minded people.

With LinkedIn, people can find job openings related to their core competence, know the latest within their industry, and even ask peers for answers and advice.

As their slogan aptly puts it, it’s about making relationships matter.

LinkedIn Foundations

LinkedIn was founded by Reid Hoffman and partners from SocialNet and PayPal in 2003.

He envisioned a network where professionals from all over the world can connect with each other to make them more productive and successful.

At the time, the leading social network was Friendster. Because of this, their initial name for the website was Colleaguester but they found the name too weird and settled for LinkedIn.

They launched the site on May 2013 with the tagline, “Relationships matter.”.

At the end of the first month, they had 4,500 members in the network. LinkedIn broke 1 million members in 2004 and 5 million by 2006. By 2013, LinkedIn has over 225 million members connecting with each other.

In 2009, Jeff Weiner, an EVP from Yahoo!, joined the company as President, then CEO while Reid became Chairman of the Board.

Inside the Box

Comparing LinkedIn with other social networks may be a bit difficult to explain. LinkedIn is not about sharing personal information like pictures of food, opinions on the latest fad, or even what sports team one is rooting for.
LinkedIn is about sharing about career and industry information.

Features like Groups, where users can join a special interest group (like Excel users) to ask and share what they know about the subject, are what sets LinkedIn apart.

Users also build up their contact network by allowing them to access secondary and tertiary connections of their network. They can be introduced to them through their mutual contact. One cannot simply invite another person to his or her own network. The person must have a level of relationship to the other to be invited or that a mutual contact endorses the person to be invited.

One very strong and important aspect of LinkedIn is that people can find job openings related to their careers. These are posted by companies and other users of the site. Some statistics put it that 48% of recruiters post job openings only on LinkedIn and that 77% of all available jobs can be found in the site. One reason for this is because recruiters and companies are comfortable in finding prospective hires from the site because of how the site is structured; one cannot lie about his or her competency in front of ones own connections.
But then again, 80% of users are not actively looking for jobs.

Moving Forward

LinkedIn is the leading professional network website. It has filled a niche that caters to a user base that is goal oriented and value driven.

It serves as a platform for people to mutually benefit from networking with each other, to share what they know and learn more from others, and discover job and business opportunities not usually found.. The company even understands how its users value their privacy and it integrates that to their principle.
LinkedIn knows that professionals aim to grow and enrich their career. And they deliver in spades.
For ten years, LinkedIn has provided this service and its growing numbers is testament to its quality and value.
It has survived longer than other social networks like Friendster and MySpace. It won’t be surprising to see it still standing another 10 more years and beyond.