Scott makes a good point — LinkedIn certainly hasn’t grown its user base by being useless. Users are certainly deriving some value from being on LinkedIn, or they simply wouldn’t be on LinkedIn.
Yet what I see happening (and this of course, is highly unvalidated and subjective) is that there is a growing middle market on LinkedIn — users that have joined and now aren’t quite sure where to go with their LinkedIn experience.
There are certainly people who have used LinkedIn and Jobster profiles in innovative ways, but that knowledge doesn’t really seem to filter down to the average user.
LinkedIn has its share of ‘superusers’ who have hundreds of contacts and have devoted the time it takes to build up such an impressive network.
But for the rest of us, perhaps LinkedIn could:
1. Provide suggestions for how to use your contacts when you sign up for LinkedIn.
This would provide newbies with a brief primer on what to do with the connections they make. The LinkedIn folks are certainly the most familiar with what to do with LinkedIn, so would be in the best position to suggest what we could do with our connections.
2. Point users to external resources.
3. Provide discussion on what to do with LinkedIn connections.
Why not have a forum, wiki or other method to post ideas about using LinkedIn profiles and connections in innovative ways? There’s certainly no shortage of great ideas for how to use LinkedIn, so why not provide users with an open way to get at those existing ideas.
LinkedIn is a great online networking tool (heck, you could even argue it’s the online networking tool), and I think the LinkedIn team has a great opportunity to provide a bit more guidance to their growing user base.
And while I certainly haven’t devoted the time to LinkedIn that I’d like to, I know I’ve certainly made some great connections through it.
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