As an early member (number 4381) and persistent LinkedIn evangelist it is rewarding to see the service eclipse the
100,000,000 200,000,000 member mark. LinkedIn is a practical and thoughtful offering. The service abides, abets and advances the network singularity.
Here is a favorite LinkedIn experience, among many.
In 2004, at a very large company, we were planning a week-long offsite for the top 90 managing directors. A newly-minted MBA suggested we collect simple headshots, biographical, contact and interest data from the 90 directors.We’d create an attractive bound booklet to be handed out at the meeting. The practical business purpose was to expand relationships and facilitate collaboration among the company’s management for their retreat. Many loved the idea.
The team set out on our mission. The 90 directors were delighted to share their information. “Anything to aid collaboration!” they exclaimed. The booklet was printed and bound. We were ready to go…
Towards the end of the final executive review of the retreat agenda, with the firm’s top management, we shared the booklet and plans to distributed it. The room fell silent. The CEO & president flipped through The Book, as we called it. He became agitated. We explained our motives. We could tell the executive thought it was a very bad idea…
“What if it falls into the wrong hands?” he questioned. The idea was summarily squashed. The executives felt The Book would be an open invitation to headhunters, talent poachers and for other nefarious activities. They explained the hyper-competition for top people.
Management was adamant about tightly controlling the information of their top 90 directors and earners. There were admonishments. We got disdain and the “Are you crazy?” look. All copies of The Book were ordered to be destroyed.
(Interestingly, the top executives did keep copies of The Book for themselves…)
A few months after the big retreat, we were looking at a new service called LinkedIn. We tapped in the name of our firm, and about 30 of the top directors names came up. Just to ‘inform’ executive leadership, we sent these LinkedIn data to them in an email. The reaction was not good.
Upon seeing their managers out there, for the world to see, in LinkedIn, the top executives seemed to embarked on the Seven Stages of Grief starting with Shock and Denial. Meanwhile, even more and more of the firm’s employees were joining LinkedIn. The mood of insurrection was palpable.
We tried to explain to executive management the enormous benefits of openness and transparency of people information. We described social networks and knowledge markets. They did not get it. We tried to explain the myth of command and control.
We said it is an exceptionally good thing that our people are so proud that they announce to the world via LinkedIn their firm, role and station. We said LinkedIn profiles are an effective strategy for employee retention and talent management.
These principles were all rejected. They would not have it. Disbelief, disdain and disorder carried the day. However the network pattern was set. The inexorable change was underway. There was no turning back. The LinkedIn genie was out of the bottle.
In conclusion, we’re not sure if management ever reached Stage Seven of Acceptance and Hope. We do know, however, a year or so after our revelation and today, all of the senior executives are members of LinkedIn!
In addition, today, in 2011, all the firm’s employees are on LinkedIn, of course.
LinkedIn is a breakthrough, a disruptive innovation. In a brief 60 months it promptly dispatched a century of rigid and often paranoid control of people information. LinkedIn enabled deliberate, conscious mastery of personal networks and business relationships.
LinkedIn has earned its rightful place at the corporate table. It sits next to to email, the spreadsheet and word processing. As predicted, LinkedIn has fundamentally altered enterprise logic. Overnight it delivered the era of social networks, knowledge markets and relationship economics. Best of all, LinkedIn is fun.
Congratulations to LinkedIn and its first 2*10^8 members.