Friday, May 04, 2007

Feature Idea for Linked-In: Strong vs Casual Connections

LinkedIn can be potentially useful to the job-seeker when looking for an "in" or reference at a company. The problem I think is that one's network becomes bloated and diluted. In real life, leveraging a "friend of a friend" is not that easy, even if the friendships in question are significant. However, if one of those friends is really not so much a friend as an extremely casual acquaintance that you met for half an hour at a conference, getting them to do something for you is a pretty low-percentage play.

But how to keep one's network from getting diluted? It is sort of hard to turn down requests to link, that could be viewed as rather unfriendly, the last thing one wants to get from a social-networking site.

My partial solution would be for LinkedIn to provide a checkbox for you to indicate "solid contact"--close enough to ask for a favor with a reasonable expectation it would be acted on--versus "casual acquaintance". Then, when searching, you could select to search only your "solid contacts".

I say "partial" solution, because I see a couple of flaws on the downstream side of the search. One, people might not like it if others could infer, based on search results, who they do and don't consider a solid contact. And even if that weren't problematic, it would rely on other people being diligent in using the checkbox.

Still, even if the feature were implemented on the front-end only, it would be a case of "half a loaf, better than none".

The other thing that would help is if LinkedIn would make it much easier/quicker to see the path of linking.

Oh, and forget about 3rd degree contacts--those seem totally useless.

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