Monday, 10 December 2007

LINKEDIN AND WEAK TIES

When I first joined LinkedIn, I thought it was an exciting innovation, and remember the urge to link with as many people as possible, however weak the connections between us. This makes sense, as there is some famous academic research that shows these weak connections are the most profitable (Granovetter's "The Strength of Weak Ties").

The theory goes that the people you have strong ties with have the same information as you, but weak ties have new information, which is why they bring the new opportunities. But LinkedIn for me simply became a new address book. Then I got bored, and then a wave of people started to link in to me even though I didn't really use the system any more. Then it all stopped when Facebook exploded in the UK. Now only very occasionally do I get a new LinkedIn requests, and I feel divided in how I split my efforts between the two. Facebook was fun, but LinkedIn promised opportunity.

This could however change as LinkedIn has recently launched its own platform for third parties to develop applications - LinkedIn's Intelligent Applications Platform. This should give it some of the sex appeal that Facebook has, and give its members that extra added reason for staying active and engaged. According to the UK's Guardian "BusinessWeek.com is the first company to develop a LinkedIn application, introducing a tool that sits on its website and lists connections between the user and the companies and business people in its stories".

With LinkedIn's membership of Google's OpenSocial - which will allow people to connect across social networks - and to develop applications across them, it seems that LinkedIn has learnt, just in time, that you can't just be the brainy kid in the class, you need some sex appeal as well.