LinkedIn: Social Networking without the Social

I’m on LinkedIn, and I think it’s a good site for what it does, but I agree with Nick O’Neill at AllFacebook that Facebook‘s moves into professional networking will put a lot of pressure on LinkedIn. His characterization of LinkedIn as a piece of charred bread and as sedentary waterfowl may be overstating it, but Facebook’s threat to overwhelm LinkedIn is real.

Nick’s post was spurred by the launch of the “Networking” choice being listed among the “Looking for” choices in Facebook’s Relationships tab.


(As an aside, maybe it’s because I’m listed as married that the “Random Play” and “Whatever I can get” options aren’t available. If so, I think that’s a great part of the implementation of the Relationships feature enhancement. But why is “Dating” still a choice?)

As Nick points out, Facebook still needs to finish a few steps in making its professional networking features fully functional. Having a way to distinguish family vs. personal vs. professional “friends” and to adjust the level of access they have to your profile will be important. And if Facebook enables us to search not just within our work and geographic networks, but among friends of friends, it will have essentially replicated the key functionality of LinkedIn.

At that point, to build on Nick’s metaphors, LinkedIn may be a Thanksgiving turkey, stuffed with toasty breadcrumbs. He puts it well when he says “LinkedIn has limited messaging features and is essentially a public extension of my Outlook contact list.”

I see LinkedIn as more than that: It’s also a place to publish your professional resume, to possibly have it validated through recommendations from others, and potentially to recruit employees. But even in an economy in which people are expected to have a dozen jobs by age 38, it’s not a site most will visit with any real frequency. Certainly nothing like we do with Facebook.

I go to LinkedIn only when I get a connection request from someone I know. I’m glad to connect in that way, and it doesn’t take long to confirm.

I check Facebook, by contrast, at least twice a day: before I leave for work and in the evening. Because I have Facebook Mobile, I get a text message when someone friends me or sends me a message, so I check in response to those, too…or else just reply through my cell phone.

Just as eBay is “the” place to sell goods by auction on the web because it has the critical mass of sellers and buyers, I believe Facebook will become the all-purpose networking site, both personal and professional. I’m not going to get rid of my LinkedIn profile. It may be useful to me someday, and it doesn’t take much effort to maintain it. But it’s social networking without the social, which will make it difficult to compete with Facebook.

LinkedIn has 14 million total users, which is roughly the number Facebook has added in the last three months. And more than half of Facebook’s 48 million users are going there daily.
Maybe Nick wasn’t overstating Facebook’s threat to LinkedIn. What do you think?
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Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

8 thoughts on “LinkedIn: Social Networking without the Social”

  1. An aside to your aside: I don’t think those missing “Looking For” choices have anything to do with your marriage. My Relationships page doesn’t show “Random Play” or “Whatever I can get” as options, either, and my Relationship Status was “Single.” Even setting the status to nothing didn’t bring the missing options back.

    I mentioned this on Nick’s blog, and everybody else said they still have 6 options. I guess there’s a bug that’s only affecting some users.

  2. That’s a little different from the explanation they gave me today. (Apparently, Facebook Customer Support works on Sunday afternoons.) The e-mail I got said “Facebook recently changed these settings to provide non-college users with a more mature set of options.”

    That’s interesting logic, to say the least. I don’t use the “Looking for” categories myself, but I’m pretty sure that there are adults who are looking for “Random Play.” I guess they’re just not allowed to look for it on Facebook.

  3. A colleague of mine has asked how she can promote a new book using LinkedIn. I don’t see a way. Am I missing something?

  4. I have successfully promoted my CEO’s book through LinkedIn (he did the same on Facebook). If you’re interested in learning how, contact me direct at or (heard this coming didn’t you?) send me a LinkedIn invite to

    LinkedIn is my social network and to Dan Schwabel’s point, multiple networks just increase the work.

    LinkedIn is SO much more than an outlook extension. Used properly it is the best business social network available.

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