LinkedIn Recommendations & The Reputation Economy

Last Friday, I had a chance to write a good, solid piece about LinkedIn Recommendations for the official LinkedIn blog.  In case you missed it, the article is here:

LinkedIn Blog: LinkedIn Recommendations & The Reputation Economy

I spent a good bit of time on this post, and even took a half hour to discuss some of the fundamental driving concepts behind it with Reid Hoffman, to help stitch together my thoughts with some of the underlying premises behind LinkedIn.  I’m pretty happy with the result.

Here’s a quick snippet:

Whether or not we realize it, we all live and work in a networked world.  Reputations matter.  Relationships matter.  Information is bombarding us from a rapidly swelling variety of sources, with increasing frequency and variability in terms of quality.  Interestingly, people are managing this incredible increase in complexity with habits and business practices that date back decades, if not centuries.

They consider the source.  They consider the context.

Fortunately, in the 21st century, with the birth of the social web, we have tools at our disposal that are orders of magnitude more powerful than we have ever had as individuals or as a society.  To quote David Weinberger from his recent talk at PDF09, Transparency is the New Objectivity:

What we used to believe because we thought the author was objective we now believe because we can see through the author’s writings to the sources and values that brought her to that position. Transparency gives the reader information by which she can undo some of the unintended effects of the ever-present biases. Transparency brings us to reliability the way objectivity used to.

This change is, well, epochal.

David is talking about journalism, but his insights are at the heart of why LinkedIn is such a powerful concept.  On LinkedIn, the skills that you’ve spent your career obtaining, the experience that you’ve earned, the trusted relationships that you’ve formed – they are all made largely transparent.  Your professional reputation and relationships matter – and not just to you.  That value extends far beyond your profile itself – it carries over to every interaction, every message, and every piece of contributed content.

It’s always rewarding when you write a post like this to get positive feedback.  Here is a flattering quote from Neal Schaffer:

I think the most brilliant blog post to come out of reaction to Jeremiah’s is the one on the official LinkedIn Blog entitled “Recommendations and the Reputation Economy” and written by LinkedIn’s own Product Director Adam Nash.  He went further to talk about how transparency is the new objectivity and that not only are recommendations often mutual, but that requesting recommendations is absolutely normal.  In fact, he ends his post asking you to write three recommendations for people unsolicited.  Exactly!  That line could have been taken out of my upcoming book!

Normally I don’t flag every post I make to the corporate blog here on my personal site, but if you’re interested, do check out the piece.