LinkedIn and the power of networks

it's not the students that keep us young, it's all the stairs
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it's not the students that keep us young, it's all the stairs

I used to think of LinkedIn as a boring but worthy social network for business contacts. But I was wrong.

Over the years it has become a critical B2B social network, with multi-million dollar deals often being done via the platform.

LinkedIn has also disrupted the recruitment business and reshaped the way people find jobs. It changed the power dynamic in recruitment by enabling the jobs to find people. Clever recruiters embraced LinkedIn early. The rest clung to their clunky old proprietary resume databases.

With the recent acquisition of Lynda.com, the reach of LinkedIn looks like growing into training and education. This is a more interesting play than MOOCs from an education perspective.

Remembering my LinkedIn story

Last night I caught up with a longstanding buddy, Des Walsh, as he visited Sydney. Des is a doyen of social media in Australia, as well as being a passionate networker and executive coach.

As we chatted I finally remembered to tell him the story of how one of his ideas helped me to get a great job.

LinkedIn ’30 day blitz’

Back in late 2012 Des contacted a diverse bunch of folks who were active on social media, noting that LinkedIn was our ‘orphan’ social network. He was right, most of us were enamoured with other sexier social media platforms. We were all members of LinkedIn, but at that time none of us were particularly active there, nor were our profiles up to date.

Des setup a social network challenge for November 2012, rounding up a diverse group to take part in a month of LinkedIn activity.

The concept was simple – “A collaborative project, in which each participant commits to take action on his/her LinkedIn presence and activity, over a 30 day period.” – 30 Day Linking Blitz.

I signed up for the blitz, and started with updating my LinkedIn profile with previous work and a decent profile picture.

The results were immediate

Almost immediately after that I was contacted by a recruiter. The recruiter had been trying for almost a year to find a candidate for a role that called for a diverse mix of skills. She explained that my name had popped up in her LinkedIn search that morning.

The rest is history. I interviewed for the role at UNSW Australia, where I’ve been working happily since then. All thanks to Des and his 30 Day LinkedIn Blitz.

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LeWeb 2010 Wrap up

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I rather suspect that some of the locals regard LeWeb as a kind of blowsy aunt who arrives in whirl, talks too loudly, drinks a bit too much, pinches their cheeks, and flies away again.

main room - Le Web 2010 Paris (by K Carruthers)That said, I think Le Web is now a great conference.  It’s got some faults. But there are few conferences in Europe where such variety and quality of speakers is available together with such diversity of attendees from around the world.

In many ways it is still very much Loic and friends having a chat on stage.  And that is part of its charm.  Why not get friends like Michael Arrington to chit-chat with various web folks on stage in Paris if you can make it happen?

This year Le Web was at Les Docks venue again.  This enabled three separate halls to be running simultaneously, with the networking hall getting a good workout.

Unfortunately the snow made walking between the various halls somewhat of a challenge.  As did the unwillingness of Parisian cab drivers to deliver or collect delegates out in the boondocks of St Denis in aforesaid snow.  This meant that for those unfortunate enough to miss the coach shuttles to the nearest metro station it was a trudge through the snow.

The food, drink and heating were good this year.  Some American friends found some of the food tastes alien to their palate (which was amusing to watch) but I found the food tasty and plentiful.

Again the parties were fun and a great chance for networking and vodka and there were a number of late arrivals on day two after the partying.

This year my favourite thing was the Ignite style talks which included gems such as:

  • a passionate plea from a Ricardo Sousa (on Twitter @ricardojrsousa), a teen entrepreneur, seeking for mentors for himself and his peers so that they can change the world;
  • and a superb talk on twitter diplomacy from Matthias Lüfkens (on Twitter @luefkens) about the democratization of political access .

The Ignite model is a great way to bring diversity of voices to LeWeb and I hope that they continue it next year.

On the first day many of the keynotes and fireside chats were brand and product discussions with company representatives from Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Twitter, France Telecom-Orange, etc.  There was nothing earth shattering in any of these if you already follow the industy. Marissa Mayer proved herself, yet again, as one of the most polished players in this game.

There was also a startup competition – which seemed a tad disorganised compared to others I’ve seen – yet which provided a valuable opportunity to showcase some local talents.

On day two the stand out sessions for me were Jeremiah Owyang‘s overview of Social Media And Big Business: Trends for 2011 and Gary Vaynerchuck‘s session where he refused to answer Twitter questions so as to be present with the audience in the room.

One of the problems with having two plenary rooms that were physically separated by a snowy road is that I (and probably many others) did not get over to the Eiffel Plenary room on day 2. This is where Thomas Crampton (who’s apparently now gone over to the ‘dark side’ from journalism – aka PR) was hosting a series of sessions that looked quite interesting.

Thus I have no personal insight into those sessions (which did sound interesting):

  • “Lean Analytics for Startups: what every founder (and VC) needs to watch”
  • “Asia: Digital Life, Real Billions”
  • How Social is Changing the Gaming Industry
  • How to Grow Your Business through Platforms and APIs
  • How to leverage social networking in your business
  • How to build your own platform
  • Hackathon Award Ceremony by Alcatel Lucent
  • The Social OS and the Human API
  • Photography: From Analog Artists to Digital Mainstream

I do think it would have been better to be able to merely walk from hall to hall within the one building given that LeWeb is held in a Parisian winter.

All in all for me the visit to Paris from Australia was worth it.  LeWeb is a good conference that enables me to see what is happening in another part of the world by bringing together a diversity of practitioners from across the world. Some interesting new ideas came up in conversation, the networking was amazing, the parties and dinners were fun, and it was in Paris (after all).

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Twitter and talking at once

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The other night I caught up with some folks who (except for @dbendall) also happen to use Twitter (@fibendall, @iggypintado, @kerrypintado) at a local pub for some grub, a drink, lively conversation & exchange of ideas.

Now this is a smart and entertaining bunch of people. But some of the characteristics of our real life interaction helped me to perceive why Twitter might work so well for some folks.

The hashtag for the evening turned out to be #ihavethetalkingfork. This is because the ideas and discussion around the table were flowing so fast that we were falling over each other to get our words out. In a vain attempt to impose some order, and notion of taking turns, at one stage the convention of the ‘talking fork’ was adopted, only to fail a few minutes later as there were a number of forks on the table.

This phenomenon of simultaneous outbound and inbound communication is something that Twitter enables quite well. You can get your idea out at the same time as I can. Then we can each respond to the other’s idea. This means that, unlike in real life, on Twitter we can almost multiplex our communications.

Some people might just see this problem as one of rudeness. But it is what happens when you put a bunch of people with ideas who, while talking to each other, generate new ideas and made new connections. I learned a lot from being part of the conversation at that table. Some of the things @iggypintado has planned sound amazing.

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