Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The world is flat

A good book to read to fully appreciate LinkedIn's power and relevance to one's career, is The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman.

The book contains 475 pages, but essentially, here's the summary:

Anyone anywhere on the planet will be competing for YOUR job, so better strive to get into one of the following four "untouchable" worker categories:
  1. Special. Your skills and talents are so special that you are set for life, economically. Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Barbra Streisand.
  2. Specialized. You're a brain surgeon, a specialized attorney, a high-priced accountant, etc.
  3. Spatialized. Your job cannot be outsourced to foreign countries because of its nature: you're a barber, a hairstylist, a dentist, etc.
  4. Super learners. You learn fast, fast, fast, and adapt to any emerging circumstances by modifying or customizing your skill set and talent.

LinkedIn helps at three levels:

  1. It introduces new concepts and new knowledge, learned from others (for example, you can use the number of connections as a fairly good indicator of career progress)
  2. It facilitates the formation of new connections (prior to registering with LinkedIn, I didn't know whom my friends knew; now, I do).
  3. It helps you to explore opportunities to develop new competencies (for example, you might partner with someone else to exchange special knowledge, skills, resources, etc. -- companies do this all the time, why can't people do it? Pharmaceutical companies, for example, sign knowledge-sharing protocols to exchange research findings)

In other words, LinkedIn can help with concepts, connections and competencies (this framework was first articulated by Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Kanter.