Monday, January 31

Use Linkedin to Collaborate with the Corporate World?

"While Facebook is a goldmine for connecting people and having social fun, Linkedin is the present and future goldmine for connecting students and ideas to the corporate world."
- Zaid Ali Alsagoff

Not that this is so exciting, but as universities around the world are striving to create industrial or corporate linkages, and explore innovative ways to connect their students and research projects with relevant companies, professionals and experts out there, Linkedin looks increasingly like a great connector.


Today, Linkedin has over 90 million registered users, and the company is growing at a rate of around 3 million new people per month. Although, most of its current users (as of January 2011) are located in US (52%), European Union (25%), India (8%) and Canada (4%), I predict that the user demographics will dramatically change in 2011, and you will see mega growth in many other countries, especially in South-East Asia. Linkedin has already members in 200+ countries, and delivers around 1 billion pageviews per month (Source).

It is already being touted by Josh Bersin to radically transform corporate recruiting, which means companies like and might be facing tough times ahead, unless they can keep on innovating, and encourage people to continue to use their services.

Though, I am not going to waste or fickle my words on that, but instead focus on what Linkedin can do in terms of facilitating corporate learning connections.

I have already discussed earlier on this blog about how Facebook can be used for learning and creating learning communities. It is still a useful tool to do exactly that, but I have to admit I am getting more and more annoyed with the increasing number of distracting picture adverts (4-5 adverts per page) taking over the Facebook interface. We were first introduced to 3 annoying picture adverts per screen (mostly irrelevant ones, too!), and at one time I am sure it was 5 (getting dizzy!), but now it is 4... What is going on?

From a learning point-of-view:

  • GOOD
    Facebook is great for connecting me to friends and uploading baby pictures to keep my Mum connected with what is going on, while living thousands of kilometers away. It is also a great tool to communicate and interact with students, create small learning communities, play games together, promote ourselves...More

  • BAD
    Facebook is increasingly becoming a BIG BUSINESS, which is understandable when you have 600 million users, and still growing significantly. Though, this also means more adverts, spam, rubbish, junk, distractions, etc...You name it! I actually respect Mark (Seen to be notoriously uninterested in money in the past) for keeping the Facebook interface clean from annoying adverts for so long, but sadly that is no longer the case.

  • UGLY
    Have you ever seen a Facebook junkie at work. I have! If your colleague is checking Facebook updates and pictures every 3 minutes, and is always busy (doing nothing work related), then you have seen one. Did you know that a study showed that 54% of US companies ban Facebook (and Twitter) at work? Working when connected to Facebook is like having a daddy day care full of kids screaming in your ears nonstop. It can be done, but you need discipline!

Having said that, we should not blame Facebook on all this (or should we?), but instead discipline ourselves (and others) to use it appropriately, because if used appropriately it can be an amazing connector and a great learning tool.

It will be interesting to see how Facebook evolves, but for me I will be exploring Linkedin more in 2011, and see how it can be used to connect and transform learning.

Actually, I have been on Linkedin for several years (since 2005 or 2006, If I am not mistaken), but it wasn't until recently that I felt the urge to explore and really use it. I had just completed a 3-part series discussing my frustrations with the Blue Ocean Strategy (BOS):

Although, I didn't get many comments on the blog, I noticed there was an interesting BOS discussion taking place on Linkedin, which was initiated by Dick Lee (CEO and Chief Innovation Officer at Value Innovations, Inc), using my BOS article as a trigger.

Me being me, I joined the group and as a result, I experienced a refreshing and truly insightful discussion, which ironically was triggered by my bashing or 'Critique of Blue Ocean Strategy' as Dick Lee articulated it. Reading and reflecting arguments by people that have been initiating value innovations for decades was really enriching, and then that got me thinking...

Why can't we encourage more students to participate or join relevant groups in Linkedin. Professionals and experts out there are always looking for refreshing ideas and suggestions, while students want to learn from experienced people in the corporate world. Bingo!

Also, Linkedin is becoming more user-friendly, the discussion forum is not too bad, and it will probably be introducing more collaboration tools in the near future. WOW, what a potential!

Why not use Linkedin to link up students and educators with awesome people in the corporate world, and explore ways to create value innovations and win-win situations, etc...! Yes, why not?

Finally, I have to agree with Professor Thomas Baker that both Facebook and Linkedin are valuable for their own reasons, and that we should use both to good effect!

What do you think? Do you have any learning experiences with Linkedin to share?

I am still learning the Linkedin way to learn :)


A.A. Karim said...

Always thought provoking! As for getting students to join and participate in's a good idea but they need some convincing. What's the incentive? The mentality (I'm referring to Malaysian students) is still "how would this activity help me for the exam?" OR "how much this contributes to my coursework"?

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Thanks for the input :)

I am looking ahead, and things will change faster than we realize. Last year I had a similar conversation regarding Facebook and teaching and learning... Both students and lecturers were against... Now they are for.

Linkedin is the future of job hunting/finding and connecting to the corporate world... If that is not an incentive for a unemployed student or graduate... Then good luck to them :)

Thanks again for your reflections... Highly appreciated :)


Linn said...

Hello Zaid. What about BranchOut? Did you try it? I don´t use linkedIn much and have only a few contacts there. To me it seems like it is more of a CV, where people add just about anyone, to show that they are "linkedIN", than a living community. And also, in my country at least, it is mostly people with higher education there, compared to in Facebook where you can meet all kinds. Now that I read your post, however, I will give it another try. Thanks.(Please don´t miss interesting discussions in the cck11 FB-group)

Dick Lee said...


I agree with your conclusions regarding LinkedIn.

We have two groups, Value Innovations (457 members) and Value Innovations India (122 members)where the goal is to encourage discussions regarding Value Innovation methodology and tools. We have students as well as professors joining in these discussions.

The VI Group has >70 discussions and both groups continue to grow.

I see the challenge as getting more people to proactively participate.

We've decided not to open up the groups for the time being. What are your thoughts on this?

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Dear Linn,

thanks for the BranchOut link :)

It is new to me, and I have to admit I am still very much learning the corporate learning and connecting world.

However, when I feel (intuition) something big is happening based on signals, I like to explore the idea (Linkedin for example).

Sometimes I am wrong, sometimes I am right, but more importantly I am always learning throughout the exploration :)

Finally, I will Join the Facebook CCK11 group.... Now :)

Thanks & Cheers!

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Dear Dick Lee,

it is really up to the group facilitator(s) to decide whether the group should be open or by invitation/request :)

No silver bullet answer to that. However, we all want to be enriched and inspired in one way or the other, and that was what I experienced in your groups discussion on Blue Ocean Strategy.

There were no book/theory-style answers, and instead I got opinions and insight from very experienced individuals, and managed to discover angles and areas that I had not reflected due to my limited experience with value innovations and BOS.

In short, what if more students and educators could participate in such online learning discussions, instead of more surface level sessions whereby most have no experience just arguing based on their readings.

In short, I enjoyed the enriching learning experience, which sparked me to write this article :)

Thanks & Warm regards,


Jennie Scott-McKenzie said...

I set up a group in linkedin "Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2011" for us to see how that network evolves too. Please join!

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Dear Jennie Scott-Mckenzie,

Just joined.. But until 21 February I will be busy with some urgent matters, so I won't be very active until then :(

Will be lurking and learning :)

Thanks for sharing and being pro-active :)

Anonymous said...

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aaron said...

I like the comparison here between Facebook and LinkedIn - I love the former, although I understand your critique, have just joined the latter and am still figuring it out. Thanks! see you in CCK11

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this entry and for your blog on the whole. I’ve just subscribed to your news feed.