This week, linkedin announced a feature called Linkedin answers . Check it out. It’s truly revolutionary. Like many people, I have been a member of Linkedin, but its closed approach meant I was using it for very little. Yes, I have a ‘network’ on linkedin – but accessing it was not easy since it always meant you had to go through another contact
All that changes with Linkedin answers where you can access your network directly (but at the same time it protects the basic integrity of your introductions). The possibilities of this are immense and are truly global.
In contrast, for a UK based network called Ecademy membership is divided into ‘stars’; with ‘Black stars’ who pay the most. With uncanny timing, it has dropped ‘Green’ stars – almost at the same time that Linkedin has ‘opened up’ with Linkedin answers
I have learnt a lot from ecademy but have been critical of this ever changing stars model because it effectively reduces the size of your network and by extension, the value of your subscription fees. For instance, with Linkedin answers, I can now communicate beyond 100% of my direct network (since it allows me to contact people who are separated upto two degrees). With Ecademy stars, it is 5%(if you include only the Power networkers and the Blackstars).
300% vs. 5% is a very simple maths to figure out!
Notes: 300% is you consider rather casually contact up to 2 degrees i.e. direct network plus two degrees. In reality, the useful size of a network is always less than the accessible size of the network because you don’t want to network with all the people you can potentially network with – so linkedin is less than 300% and ecademy is less than 5% if you exclude life coaches etc.
The open approach of Linkedin has thus made it more valuable to me. The closed approach of Ecademy in contrast, continues to baffle me since it is predominantly an offline model bolted on to an online network.
This gets even more valuable, when you consider mobile search. I have been bullish about Yahoo answers in relation to mobile search because the answers model lends itself so well to mobile search i.e. ‘search on the go’ (who else to help you better find the nearest Italian restaurant – than your ‘network’). This model has been very successful in South Korea (Naver search engine ).
So, this is great news for us as a whole i.e. if Linkedin introduces a mobile service, I would be the first to sign up because my entire network is there and my entire network is accessible!
In late 2006 and early 2007, with the announcement of the 3 network opening up and now Linkedin opening up, this is truly a year for the Open model(OpenGardens!)
I have been critical of linkedin in the past and have always said that the simple homogenous approach to networking will work best both for the members and the network(see the Mathematics of Web 2.0) , but this is a time to invite all my network to linked in and search for ‘Mobile Linkedin’.
I will continue to watch the two business models with interest!