As the chart above shows, visitor traffic to LinkedIn has grown, and even though I have more links than ever before, I had started to lose hope with it. My most recent view about LinkedIn was that it had become a playground/treasure trove for the enterprising headhunter. I logged in recently and had a better look around, and ended up on some pages I never look at when I'm just accepting LinkedIn invitations, and realised that they've stepped up their game.
It's new design means that it's now pulling in lots of display advertising from brands targeting corporate types, and lots of classified advertising. The inbox and the network updates takes a leaf out of Facebook's book, and its Answers section could owe a dollar or two to Yahoo - but you just don't get an equal concentration of brains on Yahoo as you do on LinkedIn. Try posing a question and tap into it's crowdsourcing potential.
I'm no avid user of social networking sites so asking a question to my limited base would perhaps be pointless, but with LinkdIn's Network Analysis tool, I now appear to have access to 627,000 people who are within 2 or 3 degrees of separation from me.
I'm based in London, but I was also keen to see that 15% of my network is in the New York area, followed by San Francisco, and then London, LA, and Boston. It's interesting that I can tap into this network, and also reach the others LinkedIn are suggesting in Bangalore, Malaysia, and the Netherlands.
If the future is about collaboration then there is hidden value in LinkedIn. They just need to find new structures and ways for facilitating these connections, and conversations. It's clear there are people in the system of value to me, and I can see people asking smart questions, and getting smart answers, but success feels a little accidental and chance like - a little like hearing a great stock tip in an elevator. I still feel as if I'm eavesdropping on private conversations, and connecting with someone you don't know in 'real life' is a little stalker-like.
The platform needs to move on, and move on fast. Members should be able to blog on the site, tag people and their knowledge, tag businesses and their capabilities, rate and rank, questions should be asked with cash incentives, briefs should be posted, and contracts should be tendered. LinkedIn should become a collaborative space, or face withering away quietly in a dark corner of cyberspace.