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When LinkedIn Becomes A Pay-To-Use Product

The headlines read:

LINKEDIN SNUBS 400M+ USERS

Today, LinkedIn announced they will only allow paid subscribers access to their accounts infuriating their 400 million loyal customers…

Reality Check

LinkedINNo, I am not an alarmist, conspiracy theorist or extremist. I am a realist. It is conceivable, given the observable trends from other social networks (Ning, for example) and LinkedIn’s history of quickly and quietly eliminating some of their features (read about elimination of Events and Answers) and the regular incremental decrease in our ability to do what we used to be able to do as a user of their free services. (By the way, that headline is not real)

My point is, when you build your online reputation using a single product, such as LinkedIn, as powerful and wonderful as it is now, things can change. This could leave you vulnerable or without the ability to control and manage your online presence. That may be exactly what LinkedIn is hoping if they ever decide to change their model to one where full access is given only to paid subscribers. It isn’t inconceivable.

Own Your Domain

There is only one sure way to protect your investment. Own your domain. It is a small price to pay to ensure you have control over what people find first online. Go to a domain registrar, such as 1&1 or Godaddy  or one LifeHacker lists as a Top 5 in this post.

Your goal would be to obtain your name or any version of your name available. While .com has been the standard and most sought-after, it is also more expensive and really, who enters a website name into the address bar? Don’t you enter it into the search engine? If you can’t get a .com, why not get a .net? (I’m kinda partial to .net myself!) For an individual, it’s more important to have a place online (a site) that you own and control than worrying about getting .com! Once you have this piece of digital real estate, you would link to this site from your email, include it on your personal business card, and add it to your resume; just like you are doing now with your LinkedIn profile URL.

Diversify

Another part of the solution is diversifying your online investment. Test new tools and platforms. You may not always be active, but you’ve staked your claim and have your name reserved. There are a couple of tools to help you see if your name is available across multiple social networks. Namechk and KnowEm.

Your Page

Putting content on your page may seem overwhelming. You don’t have to build a website from scratch. Why not link a WordPress site to your domain? Or maybe you can demonstrate your social prowess with a Flavors.me page linked to your domain name. You could also use a content aggregator such as Twylah or Rebelmouse to summarize what you say and share online. These are free tools that create a summary of online content (articles and images) and looks very much like a newspaper. You specify what you want pulled into the summaries. You can learn more about them and see what they look like in my post about creating a summary of stuff you share.

Long Term Strategy

Owning digital terrain and building an online presence is a long-term strategy. It isn’t a quick fix nor should you abandon it once you start. If you are serious about managing your career and your online reputation, I hope you’ll consider some of the advice here.

Did this ruffle your feathers? Am I off base? Or do you agree? Leave a comment!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • RichardPosey January 19, 2013, 8:28 am

    To paraphrase Mark Twain, “Put all in your eggs in separate baskets and WATCH THOSE BASKETS!” You’re right that we can become quite vulnerable to the whims of services on which we’re dependent. It’s another good reason to occasionally export your LinkedIn connections.  Owning your own domain is a good suggestion, although I recommend owning it independent of any hosting package (so that terminating or switching hosting packages doesn’t come with the potential difficulty of retaining the domain).

    • careersherpa January 20, 2013, 6:40 am

      @RichardPosey Richard, watching the baskets is important. What do you use or recommend for “watching?” Google Alerts? And can you give an example of what you mean by “hosting package”?

    • markfrisk January 21, 2013, 7:30 pm

      @RichardPosey 100% agree with separating domain name registration from hosting. I have helped more than a few people whose hosting companies were holding them hostage because they’d registered their domain name through the hosting company.

  • Jenny January 22, 2013, 7:15 pm

    Regarding your question of “who enters a website name into the address bar” — Anyone who uses Google Chrome does. Anything you enter that isn’t prefaced with a protocol (http, ftp, etc.) is interpreted as a Google search. IE9 will do something similar, though I believe that it tries to interpret what you type as an address first, and then treats it as a search using whatever engine you’ve designated as the default. For example, when I typed “chromium” into the address bar, it looked for “” and then displayed the Google search results. 
     
    So, yeah, actually visiting a search engine to launch search queries isn’t necessarily default behavior anymore. 
     
    Thanks for the article!

    • careersherpa January 23, 2013, 3:29 am

      Jenny,
      Thanks for the education. You obviously speak better tech than I do! :-)
       
      Honestly, my flip statement was based on my personal search techniques. When I want to find something online, I open up my search engine and begin typing until I see what I am looking for. Gotta love how far smart technology has come.
       
      Thanks for you comment!

  • JoshuaWaldman January 22, 2013, 8:13 pm

    Hannah. I don’t agree that LinkedIn is on track to become 100% paid. They actually started off that way and failed, until they opened it up. Also, not all other social networks are going in that direction. FB, TW and Pinterest are based on revenue models that require large amounts of traffic. So is LinkedIn. Without traffic, they can’t sell ads. Furthermore, without those 200 million profiles, recruiters wouldn’t use it. Charging for LinkedIn will reduce that number by at least 75%. And since most of their money comes from recruiters, making LI paid kills their entire business model. 
     
    So IMHO, there is no chance of LinkedIn becoming a 100% paid service. 
     
    Also, for the record, Events and Answers are gone for everyone. It’s not like they are gone for free users and available for paid users. The elimination of features and the restriction of features behind a pay-wall are two totally separate issues. Just because LI is evolving and changing doesn’t mean it’s going to go away for the common man.

    • careersherpa January 23, 2013, 3:22 am

      @JoshuaWaldman  Thanks for your analysis Joshua! You make a good case and one I am sure many people support.
       
      I realize there is a difference between dropping features vs. restricting features. My main point is, that when LinkedIn makes changes to their platform, it serves as a reminder that we are vulnerable if we have only built our reputation and/or rely too heavily on their platform.
       
      It will be fun to see where LinkedIn is in 5 years! Care to make a wager? (LOL!)
       
      Thanks again for adding value and your knowledgeable opinion!

  • JasonAlba January 23, 2013, 2:12 pm

    I saw Joshua’s comment on Facebook and thought I’d see what people are talking about.
     
    I agree with you 110%, Hannah.  While I don’t think LI is going to go “all upgrade” the have been moving in that direction over the years, AND taking stuff away, and changing their offering/product.   But really, that’s not what your post is about. 
     
    It’s about who you allow to hold your cookie.  If you give 100% of your branding and networking power to LinkedIn, that’s as smart as giving 100% of your job security to your employer. 
     
    This is a post about “watching your baskets” (as is said in a comment below).  It’s about being in control and not giving LI or anyone else the power to pull the rug out from under you.
     
    Hannah, spot on :)

    • careersherpa January 23, 2013, 4:45 pm

      @JasonAlba  Thank you Jason! Thumbs up!

    • online degrees January 26, 2013, 5:07 am

      @JasonAlba yes i agree with you nice  point

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