Back in the Day, When I Thought I Knew Things

LinkedIn just crossed the 200 million member mark, a pretty big milestone - a result in some ways of the site becoming a bit of a catch all destination for professionals. If you're like me you might read up on the latest headlines in your industry and profession, network with colleagues near and far, weigh in on topics via the site's groups function, post a job or source a candidate, and on and on. My point being LinkedIn has evolved over the years and I've had a pretty good seat for most of the action - I joined the site back when it's membership was sub-one-million. It was new and shiny and sort of a niche thing.

At the time, it didn't seem like anyone was giving much consideration to who was in their network and so it felt like the wild west a little bit - people throwing invites to every new member joining the site and many of the then current membership accepting every invite that came their way. For reference sake, I had over 5,000 first-degree connections in late 2004, I'm pretty sure at one point I might have been connected to both John Kerry and the winner of season two of The Apprentice (back when Donald Trump was just ego-maniacal, before he turned straight up Lex Luthor crazy). I've done some strategic culling of the ranks since.

Social media was a different place back then, mySpace was something people cared about, Facebook wasn't really a thing yet, and Twitter was a twinkle in Jack Dorsey's eye. So I did what I sometimes do when I find something too shiny to ignore... I wrote an article about it.

In the fall of 2004, I wrote a piece for ERE titled "Online Networking: Is it a Monster or a Messiah?" - please note that wasn't my original title, I don't recall the specifics but it had something to do with monsters as a riff on the then juggernaut of online recruitment But I digress, here's a sample of what I had to say in October 2004 - it's interesting for me at least to read this and then look at the current web-landscape. Oh, the wonders, the changes, the lolcats...
Networking has long been an essential part of business. More importantly for some, it’s also been a part of a successful career. According to recent statistics released by the MMC Group, nearly 30% of all external hires are a product of an employee referral, a rate that has steadily climbed since 2000. When one considers that roughly one-third of all the positions filled annually in the U.S. are a direct result of a candidates using professional networks to their advantage, the true value of networking is evident. Historically, the process of networking has been socially enjoyable but frequently tedious, involving luncheons, cocktail parties, and association meetings. While the benefits of such functions are real, they often fall in the middle of a business day and have the ability to sap your productivity for the remainder of that day. Not to dismiss networking in the traditional sense (I am attending one such function later this week), but it has not always been the most effective means of gathering valuable contacts. Anyone who has attended these types of events has certainly met with the dreaded “card-tossers,” attendees who hand out their business cards and credentials in such a flurry that they have no idea whom they have just met and are unable to match a name with a face at the end of the day. In recent months, though, the tide of change has rolled in. Many professionals have now modified their approach to networking and even given up on the traditional method. More and more people are taking their networking online. Websites with names like Ryze, Spoke Software, AlwaysOn, BizTribe, and LinkedIn are taking the desktops of corporate America by storm.
Read the rest of the article here, it's like a time-capsule only with more pixels.

Photo Credit: Marco Siguenza via Compfight cc

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