Imagine my surprise, given that I’ve never mediated anything more pressing than which kid gets first crack at the DVD player, when several people endorsed me last week at LinkedIn for my skills in alternative dispute resolution. I was also endorsed for litigation, legal research and legal writing, only the last of which I could plausibly claim as a viable talent.
It turns out that LinkedIn has introduced a new “Skills and Expertise” feature, whereby your contacts are invited to endorse you for your aptitude in various areas. It’s a fine idea — a shorthand version of the highly useful “Recommendations” feature — but it starts out with default settings that LinkedIn basically guesses based on your industry and that may have nothing to do with your actual work. How do you get around that?
Nancy Myrland has the answer is this informative blog post that explains the whole “Skills and Expertise” setup and how to customize your profile to align more accurately with your actual skill sets. I went ahead and did just that, adding to my profile categories such as “Future Trends,” “Social Media Strategist” and “Engaging Speaker.” I was also cheered to find that among the expertise choices LinkedIn offers you are “Pizza,” “Beer” and “Cookies.” And fair enough — chefs, brewers and bakers are on LinkedIn too.
The “Skills and Expertise” feature is one of a number of recent changes rolling out of LinkedIn these days. More significantly, LinkedIn recently revamped its signature product, the User Profile: TechCrunch has all the details of the new features and capacities. LinkedIn has also significantly upgraded its Company Profiles, which were traditionally among its weakest offerings.
In sharp contrast to Facebook, LinkedIn had a very successful IPO and continues to be taken seriously by the market. This isn’t too surprising, since users fill their accounts with vast amounts of corporate and career data and build huge networks of contacts around their professional interests — valuable data for companies looking to hire and third parties seeking to exploit all that information.
LinkedIn has also managed to turn a potentially huge negative development into a positive. In July, Twitter decided to disallow automatic relays of Twitter posts to LinkedIn accounts. Like many Twitter users, I would send my Twitter feed directly to my LinkedIn account, because I don’t have the time to make the same entry on multiple social media platforms. I need one distribution point, and I figured people would default to Twitter, making this a powerful blow to LinkedIn.
Not so. Cameron Yuill of VentureBeat now finds more content shares coming from LinkedIn than from Twitter. He explains why:
Your audience on LinkedIn is made up of people you have met in your working life, together with other industry people that might catch your post. Your audience on Twitter could be just about anyone and more than likely it is people you have not met. It is therefore far more valuable for a user to post on LinkedIn, as people that have a connection to them are much more likely to read their post.
Twitter also did LinkedIn another huge favor. By denying users the ability to post tweets, it cleaned up the LinkedIn news feed. No more voluminous irrelevant tweets, hashtags and @symbols cluttering up LinkedIn news feeds. Feeds are now full of relevant, engaging posts, because LinkedIn users post stuff they think will be relevant to their audience – that is the personal connections they have as a result of belonging to an industry.
LinkedIn is going to overtake Twitter (and very quickly) in terms of importance and volume for users posting industry related news.
I’m not certain I’m on board with that last prediction: Twitter has a big lead, a powerful platform, and a prominent place in the cultural zeitgeist (Google “horses and bayonets” this morning for a prime example). I’m still a Twitter devotee, and I use it as the base for almost all my non-blog content creation and distribution. I’m still not entirely sold on Google Plus, although it appears to be picking up steam, and I reserve Facebook for personal use. I still maintain the “one distribution point” mantra — but I’m now at least willing to consider changing that default distribution point.
I’ve written about LinkedIn’s advantages before; it appears to be time we added another few items to the list. To my mind, the battle for the title of leading “professional” social network is well and truly joined.