As an early adopter of the social network LinkedIn dating back almost ten years to its launch in May 5, 2003, I was also one of first to purchase their stock when its IPO hit in late May, 2011. Just a short five years ago, its membership only totaled 30 million professionals, a fraction of the hundreds of millions flocking to Facebook. However with their "gated-access approach," the network built trust amongst its users who have sinced gone on to build effective individual networks of connections that like myself proved to produce lucrative business relationships over the years.
Somewhat analagous to the fiefdoms of the Feudal Ages, each member (once LinkedIn) is able to farm his own land, produce his own crops and amass his own following, metaphorically speaking. Differing from that archaic economic model, there is no fealty owed to the LinkedIn landlord --- that is, unless one chooses to purchase one of their premium business services.
In less than one year, its stock price doubled on the New York Stock Exchange, closing at $157.71 as of this posting. By comparison, over the same time period, Facebook's share prices have plummeted from their IPO opening of $38, finishing today at $27.90.
However, with all that said, today when I received a "congratulatory" email notice commending me on ranking in the top 1% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012, I must say I was a little skeptical.
After all, the network did reach its 200 million user milestone and the notice did include an Infographic to tout their own horn. And they did make it very easy for me to update my status on their network, as well as Facebook and Twitter.
Was it a clever marketing ploy as Salvador Rodriquez at the LA Times was quick to publish almost minutes after the emails were sent to supposedly10 million other users? And to that I say, "Damn straight it was!" It was then my skepticism lifted. Why? Because they damned well deserved it.
Differing from the numerous other naysayers who were also quick to point out I was no different than anyone else, I say who cares? The more the merrier. The USS LinkedIn is the one social media vessel I'm glad to have boarded, even if I have to share my coveted seat with 10 million others.
Over the course of the last ten years, I have been able to connect with over 2,000 business professionals, that have personally LinkedIn to me. I lead 4 business group forums which are divided into niches and markets that mean the most to me and my consulting business (adding up to approximately 6,000 members). And more importantly, for me and countless others, the network has reversed the business development model. Differing from the days of talking to recruiters, answering job postings and soliciting clients, business leaders seek me out. My profile is NOW a billboard on the business highway known as Route LinkedIn- and I'm proud to say I'm still driving happily on that road to success.
Ron Callari's BILLBOARD on LinkedIn
So did LinkedIn make a clever marketing ploy by acknowledging me as one of their 1%? Absolutely! However, it's important to note, it didn't happen overnight. Over the last decade, they continously proved themselves -- and by doing so, they earned my trust. Today, since they're fully vetted in my book, I'm proud to be in that group of 1%. Yes, I'm proud to be considered a LinkedIn advocate, who got sucked in all those years ago.