early adoption, linkedin, schalk, social networks, using social media in job search

Early adopting Linkedin: Member no. 39,974 out of 100 million users

I received a lovely letter on March 25th from Reid Hoffman, Co-founder and Chairman of Linkedin.    He wrote to personally thank the first 100, 000 linkedin members as Linkedin secured its 100th million user last week.  I was member 39, 974 – in the top 0.03% (so better than top 1%) of early adopters for Linkedin.  Okay – so my ego is stroked.   Honestly though – its not just ego – but I feel strangely validated for having promoted Linkedin to scores and scores of colleagues over the years.

Here is a copy of that letter:

Dear Laurie,

I want to personally thank you because you were one of LinkedIn’s first 100,000 members (member number 39974 in fact!*). In any technology adoption lifecycle, there are the innovators, those who help lead the way. That was you.

We hit a big milestone at LinkedIn this week when our 100 millionth member joined the site.

When we founded LinkedIn, our vision was to help the world’s professionals be more successful and productive. Today, with your help, LinkedIn is changing the lives of millions of members by helping them connect with others, find jobs, get insights, start a business, and much more.

We are grateful for your support and look forward to helping you accomplish much more in the years to come. I hope that you are having a great year.


Reid Hoffman
Co-founder and Chairman

*Your member number is the number embedded in your LinkedIn profile URL (after “id=”).

I started using Linkedin over seven years ago mostly because as a mobile IBM worker, I had no desk and so keeping a rolodex wasn’t digital enough for me.    I was also using Friendster, encouraged by a friend in Hong Kong, well before Facebook took over my personal social life and I tried Plaxo for a bit before I gave up.

I really only grasped the huge value of Linkedin, however, when I took my first maternity leave in 2005 only to return 12 months later and instantly be able to find my marketing network because each person had updated their own profile.   Heaven.

In 2009, when the market took a dive and I was laid off in my twelfth month of my second maternity leave (after hiring a nanny), I turned to linkedin to better position me and my business.  I used Linkedin strategically – optimizing not only my profile but how I used the tool in order to make connections, update my network and secure information.

In the year of exponential social media growth (still in 2009), I had a lot of friends in career transition.   Many of whom were not on Linkedin or if they were, not using the tool well.  So I started to trade drinks for lessons with friends.   I got pretty good so I made my community give back to volunteer at employment centers around the city to teach disadvantaged people how to use social media to find a job.  I taught close to 700 people how to use Linkedin.   During that time – I started to win business through Linkedin – some quite sizable deals – not to mention provide social media education & consulting across the gamut of networks.  I often asserted that too many companies forgot Linkedin as a potential B2B strategy.

(Its at this point that I fear readers think a personal usage of Linkedin formed the only foundation for my social media expertise… no actually my eight years in emerging tech at IBM and years in marketing – contribute far more)

This is all a long way of saying how grateful I am for this relationship with Linkedin.   And it certainly was nice to see correspondence from Linkedin outside of their proprietary messaging system.

linkedin, social networks

The tough questions I get on the value of Social Networking

I’m in a stare down with an executive of one of Canada’s largest recruitment and placement firms.

“Why would I be on Linkedin?”

I know what he is really saying.  He has an army of staff using all the social networks, doing all the modern recruitment so he doesn’t need to.  He is retiring probably in 2 – 4 years.  He is at the top of his game.  So why would he?  Fortunately – I had an answer for him.

“So.. you strike me as someone who would probably leave a legacy after retirement.. so when you move on and head up some kind of non-profit, worthy cause – wouldn’t it be nice to be able to connect with all your contacts?     I guess more importantly, social networking is changing the entire business model, the industry, potentially profit margins for your business.   Can you really understand what is happening until you have some kind of involvement in social media?”.

So he was very receptive to my answers – I think I made him think twice.   I’m not convince I changed his actions though.

I had a similar conversation with another president – this one of an consulting firm.   He saw value but he wasn’t convinced that many CEOs are on linkedin or have time for active management – well.. you got me there.   I notice it too – executive level absence on social networks or is it just a reflection of generational divide on social networking?

Earlier though when I was talking about relationship management – he asked “why?  why would I want more connections?”.

He wasn’t being sarcastic – just realistic.  What does he have to gain in having more connections?

What I tried to impress is that on Linkedin (obviously different for other SNS) its not just about connections.  How do people choose their advisor today?  What is in their purchase criteria?  Well..  I can bet it has something to do with referrals, testimonials, track records, and client lists – all of which are on linkedin [and if you choose a public profile in your settings – you become instantly at the top of Google’s pages – less so for very common names of course]

I challenged his team, who are on linkedin in various capacity, that I bet they are looked up on linkedin prior to engagement.

Now lets talk about connections.  An expanded connection list is a fantastic way to keep in touch with past clients (as the saying goes.. cheaper to get business from a past client than new client acquisition) and to know if a key influencer/decision maker has moved on to a new role.  Importantly, they can find you. Who keeps a rolodex anymore?  (I do wish I could add contact informaiton into linkedin).

I sympathize the president though.  He gets more calls for help than for value because of Linkedin.  But then, as one of his partners pointed out, he likely does not have his profile set up to set expectations.

Facebook, How to, linkedin, recruiting 2.0, social networks, using social media in job search

Teaching social media

I just finished another course teaching social media to job searchers in downtown Toronto. The attendees were wonderfully diverse both in careers, interests, and backgrounds – so representative of diversity Toronto. I felt honoured to be in a room sharing with individuals so rich in experience. I really think I should add a coffee social afterward as I just wanted to share in their excitement… hmm. note to self!

As an indication of how heavily demanded this learning is, the course was signed up overcapacity (again!) at 35 individuals and ten more on the waiting list. (the room was small and so very hot). One of the nicest things said to me at the beginning of the course was from Eddie who grabbed my hand in hello and said “I’ve been looking forward to this ALL month”. And I believed him. What faith!

I mean to upload my current presentation and tools in my linkedin profile (coming!) and still – I wanted to share a very neat video link to anyone drifting through..

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Teaching social media“, posted with vodpod