For a long time LinkedIn has been quietly working on the sidelines of the Social Networking scene. Actually, it hasn't been, it's just seemed that way to many people. I was fortunate to start using LinkedIn in the summer of 2003 shortly after its launch, and it's been very interesting to see LinkedIn change and morph over the last 7 years. I've seen an increase in the adoption of LinkedIn by business people especially over the last 24 months.
For a number of years I felt like I was the lone voice in the wilderness telling people that they should have a LinkedIn profile for job searching and many other business purposes. Many people looked at me kind of oddly and thought I was making a big deal out of this LinkedIn thing. They're not thinking that now. I wrote a blog post in June announcing that LinkedIn had just surpassed the 70,000,000 user mark and last week they announced that they have surpassed the 80,000,000 user mark. In this fast paced, over-caffeinated, hypercompetitive, 24/7/365, Crackberry world, that may not seem like that big a deal, but it is.
The average LinkedIn user is 41 years old and earns over $109,000 a year. This is not the MySpace crowd. No offense to MySpace. This is a serious business demographic. And that means money to people and companies who know how to leverage LinkedIn to its fullest potential. Big money. LinkedIn recently announced that they are rolling out a number of new functionalities. These include LinkedIn Signal, which is a much more refined search capability and also LinkedIn Career Explorer for college students.
As we have become used to things like Facebook Status Updates, Tweets and other real time information, the tsunami of data can be overwhelming. Having the ability to sift through monstrous amounts of information quickly is a huge advantage to people who know how to make the most of these goldmines. LinkedIn Signal will give the LinkedIn crowd this ability. LinkedIn Signal is going to be amazing for people in business development roles.
It will be interesting to see how things progress for LinkedIn over the next year. Savvy businesspeople know that a robust LinkedIn profile is no longer a “nice to have” but a “must have”. For folks in sales, the days of cold calling, getting past the gatekeeper and “Oh my, did you catch that fish on the wall?” are over. The game has changed. And now anyone in a buying position can very quickly identify a competent salesperson versus an amateur. The savvy salesperson has done their homework and it shows. They are building relationships and adding value as a result of leveraging information. Stay tuned. Business is getting more interesting very quickly.