When I started LinkedIn Coaching in 2010 one of the things I spent most of my time doing was explaining what LinkedIn was in the first place. The most common question was, “ What is LinkedIn?” Another question was, “Why should I join LinkedIn?” Most of the time LinkedIn was confused with Facebook or some other social network. LinkedIn seemed relatively unknown in South Africa at that time, at least amongst the people that I was talking to.
LinkedIn, not a fad
Some people LinkedIn saw it a fad, something that would be go away like many things fashionable. As a result they took a wait and see approach. They just ignored the invitations to join the site or worst still, deleted them. They would only join LinkedIn if it proved to have staying power. If it turned out to be a fad, they would just continue with the status quo, staying away from the site. This has not happened. Instead of just fading away LinkedIn has gone from strength to strength. Not only did the company list last year on the Stock Exchange but the growth in the share price has been quite descent, at the time of writing this article. LinkedIn is amongst the fastest growing tech companies in the US and has opened several offices around the world over the past year.
Fast forward to 2012
Things have really changed. More people seem to be much more knowledgeable in South Africa about LinkedIn now than ever before. There has been a change in the type of conversations I am having about the site. It is no longer so much about what LinkedIn is rather than, how can I get more value from LinkedIn or LinkedIn is not quite working for me. The company is now much more visible and many more people have a better idea of what it is about.
Amongst the organisations I dealt with, recruiters seemed to embrace LinkedIn much more than other companies. However, this seems to be changing as I have seen other professionals like coaches, speakers and business schools becoming more active users on LinkedIn. I think this augurs well for the growth of LinkedIn in Africa.
Impact on LinkedIn activity in my network
One of the things that I noticed is that LinkedIn invitations sent months ago are only being accepted now. With South Africa sitting on 1.8 million in terms of members it is only a matter of time before LinkedIn passes 2 million members. I am seeing a lot more activity now from first level connection in South Africa. Previously many of the newsfeeds were from overseas contacts but this has changed a great deal. Most of my invitations are now coming from Africa which is great for me as this is an area I want to continue focussing in the business.