When you ask around which social network out there is the most professional, chances are that a majority will answer with LinkedIn. Not long ago there was the notion that we wouldn’t need a specialized network that deals with our professional relationships.
Startups like Branchout or Inigral argued that adding a new layer on top of Facebook would be enough to make the social network safer and more targeted. According to Fast Company colleges pay Inigral between $10k to $50k per year for their closed communities inside of Facebook. Branchout, on the other hand, pivoted into a mobile workplace chat platform and left Facebook.
Today LinkedIn officially introduced LinkedIn University Pages, a new feature that enables colleges and universities to set up a dedicated page for students to connect and explore. This new feature also compete with Facebook’s own product Facebook Groups for Schools which had been (re)launched in April last year. The blog post contains a statement which is pretty telling, promoting University Pages as
“… one cornerstone of our strategy to help students at every critical milestone from campus to fulfilling, successful careers.”
Again, when most people think of a professional network, LinkedIn and maybe Xing or Viadeo will be on the top of their lists. Facebook with all its features, bells and whistles is actually pretty hard to describe these days, it’s just Facebook, you know, the social network.
We essentially had the same discussion with devices. Do we need an extra point and shoot camera, a flip cam and a mp3-player when our smartphone has all the same features? Probably not. At least for me the days when I carried my dumb phone, a point and shoot and a flip cam in my purse are over. My Nexus 4 is doing the trick just fine.
That said, there are situations when I get back to dedicated devices, most likely in a professional setting in which the capabilities of the Nexus 4 or other smartphone are not enough. Professional photographers will always use a professional camera, Peter Jackson won’t shoot his next movie on an iPhone etc. And the same is true for social networks.
We need dedicated networks when it’s getting serious. And what is more serious than your academic and professional career? Adding this piece of the puzzle to LinkedIn makes a ton of sense as your academic network is often a significant part of your work later on. And while Facebook might be great to reconnect with old friends from school and reminisce over an old party picture or get cheers from friends and family over your new job, it is not the place to build on your career.
And if we assume LinkedIn University Pages are going to be well received which is likely to happen in my opinion, then it’s only one small step for LinkedIn to start thinking about internships. Then edtech startups like Internmatch and others might face an increasingly tough overall situation where opportunities become scarce.