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Web 2.0: Opinion

The Fundamental Flaw with LinkedIn Connections

Why a first degree connection is often hardly a connection at all

Assumption
A first-degree direct LinkedIn connection implies that the two parties know each well.

Problem
Using this assumption, two unconnected LinkedIn users attempt to connect via an intermediary. What often happens is that the first degree connections are in fact very weak connections, and thus of no use to the third party attempting to connect via the intermediary.

Example
I log into LinkedIn and would like an introduction to Brent.

I view Brent's profile and notice that his first degree connection, Brian, is also a first degree connection with me.

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So I ask Brian for an introduction to Brent.

Brian responds:

"I met Brent few years ago, at a conference, we exchanged business cards and connected on LinkedIn. I don't know him well at all. He probably does not remember me. Sorry, don't think the introduction would be of any use."

Solution
I suggest that LinkedIn modify their connections profile to reflect "How well do you know this person?"

Perhaps users could rate their connections on a scale of 1 to 10?

Alternatively, we could recognize that social networking can never really supplant face-to-face communication.

More Stories By Jonathan Gershater

Jonathan Gershater has lived and worked in Silicon Valley since 1996, primarily doing system and sales engineering specializing in: Web Applications, Identity and Security. At Red Hat, he provides Technical Marketing for Virtualization and Cloud. Prior to joining Red Hat, Jonathan worked at 3Com, Entrust (by acquisition) two startups, Sun Microsystems and Trend Micro.

(The views expressed in this blog are entirely mine and do not represent my employer - Jonathan).