A Couple Thoughts On LinkedIn

I’ve been using LinkedIn much more frequently over the last few weeks.  I noticed a couple of interesting things.

  1. LinkedIn shows the number of connections you have to your connections, but they cap it at 500.  So if you have 501 connections or 1,500 connections, it will show the same thing -- 500+.  This feature is very consistent with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman’s perspective on networking -- I read about this perspective a few weeks ago in his book, The Startup of You.  The last thing Hoffman would want is his users to use their number of connections as a status symbol, leading them to make connections with people they barely know.  Hoffman believes that people should have smaller networks of very strong connections.  Further, much of the value of LinkedIn is the integrity of its connections.  If I see that you know someone I’d like to connect with, it’s important to LinkedIn that you know that person well.  If you don’t, the product becomes far less useful.  Capping connections at 500 was a smart way to preserve product integrity.
  2. I’ve Tweeted about this in the past, but one of the most popular features of LinkedIn is the “See Who’s Viewed my Profile” feature.  You can click on it to see who’s looking at your profile.  This feature drives a ton of traffic -- users come back to LinkedIn regularly just to see who’s looking at them.  What’s interesting to me about this feature is that while it  drives a ton of traffic for LinkedIn, it would destroy traffic for Facebook.  If Facebook users knew that other users could see that they were looking at their pictures, users would look at far fewer pictures.  And because most of Facebook’s revenue comes (indirectly) through page views, releasing this feature would be suicide.  It’s an interesting paradox that illustrates a key difference between our personal and professional networks.