One of the more interesting developments during the last economic recession in 2008/2009 was how more people embraced LinkedIn to expand their networks.
It made sense to grow personal networks – albeit a digital ones – because as people lost their jobs or became more concerned about the possibility of losing their jobs, they realized the importance and value of having a network to leverage when and if required.
Another angle to LinkedIn’s embrace was how many people realized their networks weren’t deep enough. My thesis is the more we rely on digital networking via social media services, the less attention we pay to real-world networks in which we connect with real people in the real (aka analog) world.
Over the past couple of years, it has been interesting to see how many people have focused on bridging the gap between digital and real-world networks. There are people who are bringing the two worlds together by going to conferences, coffee, meetups and events such as DemoCamp and Third Tuesday.
I think this activity had much to do with the recognition that extensive digital networks are useful but when push comes to shove, it’s important to have connection that have more depth – something that happens when you meet someone, even if it’s only once.
The idea of LinkedIn becoming a leading economic indicator popped to the surface over the last couple of days amid a flurry of requests to connect. I’m not exactly sure why this is happening.
It could be that LinkedIn’s “People You May Know” has become better so clicking on “Connect” makes sense. It could be I’ve become more active on LinkedIn so perhaps I’m appearing in more searches.
Another theory is as global economic conditions more even more volatile and uncertain, people have once again recognized that having an extensive network is important. So, more people may be turning to LinkedIn as a way to jump-start the size and potential impacts of their networks.
What do you think?
Are more people getting involved with LinkedIn because the service is becoming more popular and seen as something every person needs to do professionally? Or has LinkedIn become popular because more people need to enhance their networks quickly to prepare themselves for an economic downturn?