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Fixing LinkedIn

LinkedIn has been the winner in the business social network for many years. But over the last few years it’s gone from an asset to a major pain. I have to spend more and more time every few days dealing with LinkedIn messages and requests to connect.

LinkedIn is still the first place I go to see who people are, and because of its dominance most professionals seek to maintain a profile there.

I know that ‘if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product being sold’, but if I am the product being mined I think LinkedIn could create more value for its shareholders by looking after its users as well. To be blunt, its network management tools suck.

Rather that dwell on the problems, here is a list of improvements I’d love LinkedIn to make. In order that the right people see this list I’m going to mention Deep Nishar, Senior Vice President, Products and User Experience at LinkedIn. Hopefully this will pop up in his Google alerts and maybe he’ll even respond. Hi Deep *waves*.

Deep Nishar from LinkedIn

Establish a new circle of ‘People I don’t know, but should meet some day’

I get a lot of people wanting to connect to me. If I connect then people assume I do actually know them and the referral network is broken. There should be a circle of people I actually know, and a circle of people I should know but haven’t actually met yet.

If I can protect the circle of people I actually know then my referral is much more powerful.

When travelling it would be great to filter by my planned trip location to see ‘people I don’t know, but should meet someday’ so I can get to know them. I have hundreds of people in my network that I’d love the opportunity to meet if I have a few spare hours while travelling. That would make trips much more effective and unlock countless opportunities.

Regions in LinkedInBe truly global

LinkedIn is still very US centric. I’ve been a LinkedIn member since the beginning. I live in New Zealand and this is the list of locations that I see on each search.

It would be great if LinkedIn remembered where I was, where I go and gave me some better geographic tools that allowed me to see where my network is and plan to meet people as I travel.

Own Conferences

I meet hundreds of people at conferences. The modern conference starts months before the event and relationships can continue for years after. Being able to quickly create a conference, get people to join that group and making it super easy to see others at the event would clean up a big part of my network.

Wouldn’t it be great to see a timeline view of your network so you can see the events you attended over time and the people you met at those events. It would make it much easier to follow up on opportunities when you’re doing your post-event follow-up.

Alumni

I’m involved with a number of schools and universities that want to recapture their relationship with alumni for community building, inspiration and fund raising purposes. Making it super easy for schools, colleges, universities and other institutions to create yearly groups and even provide an online certification of  attainments could see a massive network effect.

Each institution should have a set of tools on LinkedIn that allows them to manage their presence. Potentially APIs would allow them to have current and former students log into their page or own website and link their LinkedIn Profile to their Academic register. This would provide massive benefit to the institution as it creates a reason for Alumni to connect. Professionals would be motivated to do it as their achievements would be validated.

In other words create the other side of this. Make this a hard connection to the Institution.

LinkedIn education

People love badges. Give the institutions tools to manage their Alumini and I’m sure you’ll see a powerful network effect.

Network curation

It’s far too hard to remove or degrade people in your network. With a  set of curation tools the quality of networks can be managed, which must have benefit to LinkedIn.

When accepting requests I want the criteria for a contact request to be strict. They have to accurately link so the contact can be correctly placed in my network and I want to set those attributes. I also want to be able to process 20 connections at a time very effectively. Right now I have to dive into each one to see who they are. A better design that allowed me to  see at a glance how people know me would help. I’d like to not see anyone who tries to connect without a custom message. That’s just contact spam.

From time to time, maybe once a year I may want to move people around as they move in and out of my close network. Google is doing a much better job with circles but this could be so much better and more useful.

Be classy

Please LinkedIn stop pushing dumb stuff into my stream. What am I supposed to do with this …

LinkedIn skills and expertise

What benefit does this give me? You must have also done something with start date anniversaries because now I’m getting spammed on that. Please just stop these usage initiatives that are quantity rather than quality. Get your network working.

Design your workflows

LinkedIn now takes me several minutes a day. It’s become painful. Seeing how people use LinkedIn would reveal some obvious workflow improvements that could make LinkedIn a delight.  Some of the recent designs have been shockers.

Design for LinkedIn

Sure enough, over the weekend I was checking out someone that emailed me and rather than typing in the Search box, I typed their name in the ‘Share an update…” box. Not just embarrassing for all but you can imagine how much damage that could incur for multiple parties if you broadcast a potential candidate to the world.

Wrap up

I’d be interested in anyone else’s suggestions to make LinkedIn better. I don’t see any realistic competition coming anytime soon for LinkedIn so I hope they see these suggestions and make LinkedIn a delightful experience. Even if we are ultimately the product.

 

 

 

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24 comments

Craig
27 November 2013 #

The problem I have is that I keep getting endorsed by people who really have no idea what I do. My mum knows nothing about .NET so why is she endorsing me for it? The endorsements are totally untrustworthy.

Nick
27 November 2013 #

Interesting suggestions. I would also add: the iPhone app needs an update so you do not accidentally add contacts or like statuses when scrolling.

Tim Callcott
27 November 2013 #

Great points Rod and I agree with everyone.
I would like to see the link between Twitter and LI turned off (as well as any other connection that lazy social media users like to post once and distribute to many)

Nicole Williams
27 November 2013 #

Agreed Craig. Also these seem to have taken the place of written endorsements which hold far more value and credibility.

Being able to remove/hid connection requests that are generic would be vey valuable. Generic requests are lazy spam.

Also in reverse a slightly longer character allowance for connection requests would be helpful for explaining the reasons to connect.

Joshua Woodham
27 November 2013 #

Totally agree.
Lately it seems LinkedIn will do whatever possible to get you to visit and use its site with the countless useless notifications you receive.

Endorsements hold pretty much no integrity at all (except of course my endorsements for Breathing and Pole Dancing).

The newsfeed needs to cut down on updates like… Your connection is now connected to… and.. your connection has a new skill…. It is very difficult to filter through your feed looking for quality content from your top connections.

Thanks Rod, hopefully this blog post makes it to the right people.

Ruairi
27 November 2013 #

My major gripe with LinkedIn is the terrible UI.

Not only is it a brick wall of useless information at times, but it has a tendency to scroll after the page loads or a popup will shuffle around. Often I’ve already clicked where I want to go next, but due to the scrolling/shuffling, I’ve now clicked on some random persons profile and thus show up in their notifications.
Without fail, that random person will soon show up in my notifications, no doubt wondering who I am and why am I checking out their profile.

As for suggestions; no competition means no innovation; I think it’s time for some new players to come to the table.

@HeatherSmithAU
27 November 2013 #

All valid points.

No-one gives a bad review – so the referrals are limited.

And people are able to download the database and then spam you with newsletters – which is something I have to get over but drives me insane.

I have TripAdvisor attached to my LinkedIN and when I am going somewhere – I log it into TripAdvisor and it then highlights who will also be there – may help your travelling connecting issues.

Greg Furlong
27 November 2013 #

Totally agree. LinkedIn has become less than ideal for me. I walked away from a career at IBM to develop an alternative, that is designed for the users, not the recruiters :) Read about it at http://channelpace.com . Rody, you mention LinkedIn doesn’t have a competitor – today that is true, but we hope to be it “tomorrow”.

Chris
27 November 2013 #

@Greg – took a look.

Will IBM have you back…?

Marc
27 November 2013 #

^ lol @ Chris.
LinkedIn is targeted towards seekers, people looking for business opportunities or employment. Hence why they try to connect to as many high profile people (like Rod) as possible. I can imagine for those VIP’s it would be very frustrating. But please remember the little guys ;). One single connection could potentially connect them to thousands of opportunities.

David
28 November 2013 #

Agree and I actually think the usability problems run deeper. The iPhone app is TERRIBLE — I can’t believe anyone at LI actually uses it else it would have been repaired long ago. Additionally, the “endorsements” feature is so spammy it’s a joke. I don’t even know some of the folks who endorse me, so it’s just zero-value data that decreases the signal/noise ratio. To the LI management team I’d say, incredible company, but no network effect is impenetrable… time to get serious about usability and quality before you get myspace’d.

Antony
28 November 2013 #

I agree with all of the above..
I am still not sure what the benefit is of being on LinkedIn
very time consuming, limited benefit.

Peter Morgan
28 November 2013 #

Put some of these suggestions in place, and some of the better ones above, and THEN, I might think about Premium. A commercialisation opportunity for LI here.

Lisa Callaghan
28 November 2013 #

Hi Rod

I have a contact at LinkedIn who I emailed your blog to. Can confirm its now doing the rounds internally. Shouldn’t be long before Deep reads it.

Lauren Gilbert
29 November 2013 #

Seconding Lisa’s comments – And I’m that LinkedIn contact who can confirm it’s currently doing the rounds internally!

Lachlan McNeill
29 November 2013 #

I agree, especially on the location, endorsements and “people you actually know”. I have been a technical recruiter for years, but apparently, according to my endorsements, am a “project planning” ninja. No idea. I think we should get an endorsement budget based on time and/or contacts and perhaps, this could be good, have to cite on what basis the endorsement was given ie as a supervisor, colleague, or just random guess. This would then weight the endorsements to actually mean something.
I use Linkedin a lot and would love to be able to set up geographical search triggers when say a Senior Fire Engineer arrives in NZ or… is suddenly connecting to NZ people.
Generally though, it’s the quality of connections that needs to be addressed, otherwise it will become just another form of Spam.

The Bearded One
29 November 2013 #

Go @LisaCallaghan…… 5 gold stars for you !

Rod Drury
29 November 2013 #

@Lisa @lauren. Awesome. Happy to do a call.

Mike Block CPA
30 November 2013 #

@Rod
It is very surprising that Fixing Linkedin would be the subject of a XERO blog post, but I am extremely happy to see the post and beyond happy to see Rod Drury created it and is responding to comments.

Rod, you did not go nearly far enough. Linkedin is an outrage, especially since the CEO is an Intuit Board member. If there are help pages, support forums or support contact info, I could not find them.

My biggest beef relates to truly juvenile anti-user programming. The best example of this is not warning you when you exceed an inadequate and undisclosed post length limit. Linkedin simply saves what it wants and discards the rest.

I also got many Congratulations on my new job, which was a mystery to me. Should I now apologize for accidentally (through no fault of mine) spamming all my followers? I simply edited my long time CPA firm name to include Xero. Would apologizing create more spam?

Well meaning users also endorse for ridiculous things, including many new areas where we have no interest or expertise. I deleted Quicken (which I dropped 15+ years ago) when it got more votes than Xero or QuickBooks, thereby squandering many votes.

Rod, why try to fix something related to Intuit? Xerocon and Xero Roadshows showed many that Xero professionals will soon have a far better and more valuable Linkedin- like websites. You can beat the heck out of Linkedin, like you are beating the heck out of Intuit, by keeping some of your creative ideas to yourself.

Left alone, products like QuickBooks and Linkedin can create the best advertising for your far better mousetrap.

Mike Block CPA
30 November 2013 #

By the way, this blog does not let us vote on posts (which takes much less time than commenting). Of course, we also need votes for AND against.The blog also does not let us edit comments, to correct errors or clarify.

Josh
4 December 2013 #

I think that although LinkedIn is currently more US centric does not mean that it won’t continue to grow outside the US and move rapidly into emerging markets across the globe. I think with the advent of the new showcase pages, many more people will create new pages. The ever-growing LinkedIn network won’t stop anytime soon and I hope to be on it when it does.

At first glance LinkedIn Showcase pages appear to be the same as the company pages we all have come to recognize. What’s the difference? – blog.peoplelinx.com/2013/11/launch-linkedin-showcase-pages/

Richard dyer
4 December 2013 #

Or you could just use google+

Linked in is like MySpace. Everyone said you should be on it. But none of you really knew why

Seonaid @genebrarian @Kintalk
31 December 2013 #

The issue I have with LinkedIn is that it keeps suggested I apply for unsuitable roles.

I am a research librarian, with a specialism in family history – my former career was in print and design.

However, I quite often get scientific or medical roles etc suggested . . .

Amusing mostly. Not currently looking for a job – love my job and am happy, but if a truly awesome one appeared, you never know :-)

Currently I spend maybe 10 minutes a week on LinkedIn. There is nothing to entice me back on a daily basis. And yes, those referrals do irritate.

Luke R
12 March 2014 #

Nutshell CRM just blogged on how linkedin blocked them via their API overnight…. ( http://www.nutshell.com/blog/2014/03/linkedin-integration/ )
This has let me down and no doubt a host of other customers

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