For many years I have had one of those love and hate relationships with LinkedIn. The company introduced some novel ideas many years ago and then proceeded to kill them as time went on. One such feature is the LinkedIn Introduction Request.
LinkedIn recently made it really hard to use the feature. This compounded a greater issue: the complete lack of an easy way to find introduction requests that were floating in complete limbo.
If you you asked me what LinkedIn’s biggest problem is I would tell you that it is a cross between the Pony Express and a guantlet. The application itself has been sped up over the last few years, but the features have been made so difficult to use that any boost in performance has been compromised by what are very much like traffic calming devices in residential neighborhoods. If you are not familiar, here is one example of a traffic calming device.
Assuming that you can find the introduction request on Linkedin, you have to completely guess who you were asking someone to introduce you to in the first place. This means that the ultimate answer is to pick up the phone and call your contact and ask for an introduction the old fashioned way. Sending an email is another way.
One really has to wonder how a social network built around trusted introductions can function if it doesn’t allow users to leverage their social network. I suppose this means that LinkedIn has given up on being a social network and is now just pursuing Monster.com which means that it doesn’t have to worry as much about Facebook (in theory).
By contrast, Facebook makes it so easy to share things and to get a conversation going with someone that sometimes you wonder if they are just looking for the pattern data that you generate.
Unfortunately, Facebook’s ease of contacting someone isn’t met by easy of finding someone. There was a time when Facebook made looking for someone stupid simple. I guess they got too big or something else happened that forced them to create many walled gardens.
The idea that there could be a next social network is something that most people cast off as a possibility. The sort of issues that I’m describing above may just be the opening that people have been waiting for. Remember MySpace? How about Friendster?