LinkedIn launched LinkedIn Today this morning. The content delivered on the website is “the most shared news” posted by users on LinkedIn. It seeks to aggregate news specific to their current users, professionals. TechCrunch said well that LinkedIn Today “wants to be the Wall Street Journal of social news.” Currently, online.wsj.com is the top news source trending.
At first glance, it may be easy to discount the value of the news site since it doesn’t leverage any sort of social graph algorithm that customizes the content delivered to each user based on their direct network’s interactions (which is a concept that the New York Times continues to attempt to refine).
However, LinkedIn Today’s aggregated model seems to be working. The homepage divides its aggregated content into topics according to how users categorize themselves in their profile, so it’s not entirely a one-to-many bulk content approach. But, the topic content is both timely and relevant. For example, the trending article (about an errant Chrysler tweet, a recent hot topic of personal and professional balance) is the topic we were circulating around the office earlier this afternoon.
LinkedIn Today is A Natural Extension to How We Already Network
LinkedIn Today also capitalizes on the way that we network professionally. It can be difficult to maintain closeness with an extended professional network while balancing an already-full schedule at work and personally. Even if my schedule was significantly more available, I would not be inclined to reach out to someone I hadn’t seen in some time to ask them to get coffee or lunch so that we could have a conversation to catch up. Instead, I find myself much more likely to maintain relationships by connecting individuals in my network with information that I think they might enjoy. I can let the individual know that I am thinking of them, that I care for their individual tastes and what we share in common, and provide worthwhile content to respect their time. For example, I have sent articles on progressive interactive fundraising strategies for homeless organizations to my friend Rob via Twitter. While I don’t expect to meet with Rob to “catch up” anytime soon, communication via articles and insights like these makes me always grateful to connect and comfortable to see him when we run into each other occasionally at conferences during the week and at bars on the weekends.
I originally absorbed the idea that “sharing value with others ” was a phenomenal strategy to maintain relationships from Tim Sanders’ book, Love Is the Killer App, which I read in 2008. I had recently become a Christian, and I was struggling with the mushy-gushy relational stereotypes I associated with people who “did the right thing.” I imagined that to be selfless meant that I had to have endless amounts of brownies and cakes to bring at a moment’s notice to console a friend or that now I would have to be available to talk for hours on end about a friend’s recent breakup. I don’t usually enjoy super girly stuff like these things, and becoming a Christian certainly didn’t change that.
Instead, Sanders comes from the professional world (he was the Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo! at their height in the 1990s), and he said that smart professionals should be generous with their God-given gifts: intelligence and knowledge. By becoming a “rich source of information to all around you,” we geeks can share value and communicate that we care for and deeply value the individuals in our lives and in our networks (without maintaining marathon phone calls or baking pies).
LinkedIn Today is a well-placed platform because it gives the user an opportunity to “share” resources (in the form of interesting headlines or insights) with others in their professional network, and it aggregates this value. I no longer see posting headlines and information on LinkedIn as yet another shameless form of self-promotion; it is an opportunity for me to connect with and to share benefit with my immediate network and industry.