I’ve been involved with the LinkedIn social network for a long time, along with quite a few other networks, and have been pleased to see how it’s evolved into a terrific professional networking environment, while the other social networks I’m in have devolved into MLM hunting environments (Ryze) or non-professional, personal dating and socializing networks (Orkut).
The latest wrinkle on LinkedIn that I’m just learning about is that some savvy members with > 1000 connections realized that the tools LinkedIn offers to mine your network are insufficient, and they’re building separate, but related, mailing lists and discussion forums for LinkedIn users.
This is impressive because one sign of a healthy and thriving community is when it spawns innovation in its user community. Think “eBay”, for a beautiful example of this phenomenon. (I know, because my second startup, iTrack, was a company riding the coattails of eBay until we sold it and it was morphed into a completely different service)
The LinkedIn Power Forum, known more formally as My LinkedIn Power Forum or “MLPF”, was inspired by a quote from business guru, brilliant public speaker and networking genius Tony Robbins, who stated quite bluntly that Communication is Power.
The purpose of MLPF is to give you the tools to build your own network faster and more efficiently, and you can learn about it more at its home page on Yahoo Groups: My LinkedIn Power Forum.
While I’m delighted at the enthusiasm of the LinkedIn community in creating the My LinkedIn Power Forum, I find it fascinating to observe the evolution of the connection concept from “link to current and former colleagues” to “link to anyone who can help you identify useful or interesting fellow LinkedIn members.” In some sense, the entire premise of the MLPF flies in the face of my personal philosophy of linking: I only link to people I’ve met, at least electronically.
And yet, by being on LinkedIn, I have received cold queries for consulting jobs, and I recently had a client forwarded to me from a chap on the East Coast who didn’t have the right talent set. A startling and quite intriguing development.
On the other hand, more specific LinkedIn networks are also spawning their own communities, and those seem to make more sense to me. LinkedIn Bloggers is a fun intersection of two interests of my own, and so far has been a pleasant discussion of how blogging can help people network and promote themselves, both within the LinkedIn environment and throughout the Internet.
In fact, Yahoo Groups alone have 76 LinkedIn discussion groups. See for yourself: LinkedIn Groups at Yahoo Groups. From medical executives to members of the legal profession, IT to corporate execs, there’s an entirely new parallel channel springing up from the fertile seed of LinkedIn.
What do you think of these developments? Are you a member of LinkedIn and how have you found it professionally?