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Business 2.0 on LinkedIn

Writing for Business 2.0, Rafe Needleman recently provided some of the first press coverage of LinkedIn:

Today's column got its start when Kevin Werbach, another tech commentator, sent me a request to join his "network" at the new site LinkedIn. I was curious about LinkedIn, so Werbach helped me contact its founder, Reid Hoffman -- even though Werbach doesn't know Hoffman personally (the two just "have friends in common").

Werbach helped me meet someone useful to my work. And this is just what Hoffman is trying to systematize with his service.

LinkedIn is a tool for turning your friends' connections into your own. It allows you to see a list of everybody in your own circle and in the circles of your listed friends. Now that I'm connected to Werbach and Hoffman, I might see that I have a connection to, say, Bill Clinton. But I won't know the path -- which friend of mine is connected to him or how many links away he is; LinkedIn doesn't tell me. But it allows me to compose a note to Clinton, which is then routed to the closest of my connections to him. This person, I hope, will then forward my message, essentially vouching for me as he or she does so -- and so on, until Clinton gets my note and chooses to reply to me (or not).

The difference between LinkedIn and most other social networking systems, like the first-generation Six Degrees or the newer Ryze, is that LinkedIn is invitation-only. You can't barge into the network by yourself. It's like a good cocktail party.

I find that I have to explain to people exactly how LinkedIn is different -- that's it's invitation-only, that you can't be contacted by a stranger without referrals from mutual friends, that there's no spam -- but it's tough. Existing social networking services, as well as the decline of trust on the Internet -- have set certain expectations among people, especially the high-level professionals LinkedIn is targeting.

Still, with improved marketing messages (which have already been usefully tweaked) and with growing buzz, I have no doubt in LinkedIn's fortunes. I've already been using it to make contacts myself, and at that, its primary task, it works wonderfully.

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Comments

Linked is a great site with a good business model. While it focuses on the high end professionals, I think there is also a market for the regular folks. I think everyone is a professional one way or another. This is why I think mrneighborhood could have a good nitch also.

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