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LinkedIn Explosion

Posted by Ted Hopton on January 15, 2008

I knew I had read news about how popular LinkedIn is becoming, and when I searched just now one of the top results was this blog entry titled, Networking on steroids: LinkedIn growing in popularity. Marilynn Mobley expressed some of the same feelings I have been having about dealing with link requests from people you don’t really know:

It strikes me as irrelevant to connect to someone I’ve never heard of who happened to find me using a keyword search. The way I see it, my connections aren’t relevant to me – or others – if I can’t personally speak to why I’m connected to them.

Furthermore, I think she’s right on target when she says,

I suppose it’s possible that some people actually know – and can credibly introduce – hundreds or even thousands of people, but frankly, when I see people with so many connections, I automatically raise an eyebrow.

She’s harsher than I am about what she thinks of them, though I bet her term (“Link Ho’s”) probably does fit some people!

Back to my original question that I was searching to answer, one of her links took me to a news story citing more than 9 million LinkedIn members and 350 corporate customers — but that the news story is a year old. Another figure, from April 2007, is in this report on LinkedIntelligence, citing a LinkedIn press release, which says there are 10 million users on LinkedIn. So, I am not sure how many there actually are now, but it’s an awful lot.

Mobley also links to a great blog post by Guy Kawasaki (yes, that Mac guy) about how to use LinkedIn effectively. I highly recommend reading it. Here is his list, but read his post to see the explanations:

1. Increase your visibility.
2. Improve your connectability.
3. Improve your Google PageRank.
4. Enhance your search engine results.
5. Perform blind, “reverse,” and company reference checks.
6. Increase the relevancy of your job search.
7. Make your interview go smoother.
8. Gauge the health of a company.
9. Gauge the health of an industry.
10. Track startups.
11. Ask for advice.
12. Integrate into a new job.
13. Scope out the competition, customers, partners, etc.

Quite a list, and a strong argument for joining the millions on LinkedIn.

Here’s more recent information on the number of LinkedIn members: according to Business Week in September 2007, “LinkedIn is adding users at a pace of about 36,000 a day.” The article compares Facebook and LinkedIn for business networking, and it was written right after LinkedIn started allowing users to post a photo:

Including photos isn’t a response to Facebook’s popularity, says LinkedIn’s Luo. “There is buzz about Facebook moving into the professional arena,” she says. But LinkedIn helps people expand their professional networks in part because of the participation of many higher-level executives who are unlikely to join other networks. “To be a useful professional network, you have to have the people above you on the network,” Luo says.

Even more recent stats (Nov 2007) cited in this Marketing Pilgrim post cite LinkedIn as the fastest growing social networking site — growing faster even than Facebook. Of course, since Facebook is so much larger, it’s harder for them to match the percentage growth of a smaller organization like LinkedIn. But it speaks to the huge number of business professionals who seem to be on LinkedIn these days. It’s no longer some “cool website I found,” but “the place anyone who is serious about business networking needs to be.”

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