Tags: professional | social | networking | outdated | model

Why Professional Social Networking Has an Outdated Model

Why Professional Social Networking Has an Outdated Model
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By    |   Tuesday, 23 January 2018 03:31 PM

The market for professional social networking has never been larger. The $200 billion industry has been growing at an unprecedented rate and household names have risen over the past decade: LinkedIn, Upwork, and Angelist, for example. As technology improves and global infrastructure becomes more developed, the number of people joining these platforms will explode in the coming years.

When looking at professional social network platforms, it’s clear why they’ve become so wildly successful over the past decade. They give people more control over their own career trajectory by allowing them to connect with like-minded industry professionals and gives them a way to apply for jobs that they would otherwise never be aware of. These platforms create a much more connected and transparent workforce.

This increased connectedness has a huge impact in the mobility of the workforce: it allows employees to explore jobs related in their field, it allows recruiters to source talent and fill positions with more relevant candidates, and it allows industry leaders to spread their knowledge further than ever before.

The Drawbacks of Today’s Professional Social Networking Model

However, not everything is perfect with professional social networking platforms. The centralized nature of these platforms means that most users are essentially locked in with one platform at a time. Switching over to another platform, from Upwork to Fivrr, for example, means that the user has to start over from scratch – all past connections, work history, and reviews are lost.

This fact is not lost on the leading companies in the space, such as LinkedIn, Upwork, or Glassdoor. In fact, these companies are incentivized to build upon this centralized model in order to force users to stay for the sake of keeping revenue within their own network. Revenue is only received from users that stay on their platform, so increasing the barriers to entry for switching the other platforms reduces competition and entices new users to join their network.

This creates a highly fragmented industry. People are only connected with others who use the same platform that they do – visibility into other platforms, such as an Upwork user peering into the Fivrr network, is nearly impossible. Users spend many years building value on their platform, and the cost of starting over again on another platform is prohibitive.

How Technology Will Force the Model to Change

The good news is that technological improvements will force this model to change. There has been an emergence of companies that are leveraging blockchain technology in order to create a platform where users control their online information.

What this means is that instead of being restricted to a single site due to inability to transfer profiles, users will instead have a single profile that they can choose to share with different platforms.

One of the leading companies in the professional social networking is Dock.io, a cryptocurrency built on Etherieum which allows users to manage their own data by allowing easy mobility between different professional platforms such as LinkedIn, Upwork, or Glassdoor. Companies with similar concepts have also emerged, such as Civic or Bitnation, which are more focused on managing one digital profile across multiple sites in order to reduce identity fraud and simplify paperwork.

The value of these digital identity companies is the paradigm shift they introduce, especially within professional social networks. Users are no longer constrained to a single platform due to sunk costs, but can instead traverse freely between all platforms. This creates a significantly more connected workforce and eliminates much of the fragmentation within the industry. By being the first mover specifically within the professional social networking space, dock.io can have tremendous value as they will effectively become the foundation that millions of users will build their personal data on.

Mobility and Transparency Lead to Innovation

Perhaps the most important impact of adopting dock.io and similar companies is the widespread innovation that will be created. In the past, LinkedIn used to provide a public API that enabled users to transfer their information to different platforms and the mobility that emerged from the API led to the creation of thousands of companies. At its peak, over thirty thousand applications integrated and used LinkedIn’s public API, but the abrupt restriction of API access in 2015 caused a significant number of those companies to close doors.

Centralized power and hoarding of user information stifle innovation and growth. LinkedIn’s decision to end support of free-flowing information has led to a much more fragmented industry, filled with companies and platforms that seek to lock in their users. By creating a similar ecosystem through dock.io, a second wave of innovation will sweep through the space which will rapidly introduce new changes and alter the landscape.

Looking Towards the Future

A rapidly growing sentiment among users in today’s internet age is the pursuit of decentralization and movement to bringing power back into the hands of consumers. This idea has reverberated through a tremendous number of industries, and the professional social networking space has not escaped its notice. The highly centralized model today stifles innovation by forcing the space to be a highly fragmented – connectivity is limited to individual social networking platforms.

When looking towards the future, it’s clear that today’s approach is not feasible in the long term. There are legions of new users that will be joining these platforms in the future, and it doesn’t make sense for them to make the mistakes of their predecessors.

Instead of locking themselves into a single platform, they will adopt the decentralized approach through adopting the services of dock.io or similar programs, which will enable mobility between multiple platforms.

More importantly, the greater mobility and growth in users will usher in a new era of innovation. Within the next five years, it’s likely that the professional social networking space will operate completely differently than what we see today.

Jim Hoffer is founder and managing director at Hoffer Financial Consulting. Follow him on Twitter.

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When looking towards the future, it’s clear that today’s approach is not feasible in the long term. There are legions of new users that will be joining these platforms in the future, and it doesn’t make sense for them to make the mistakes of their predecessors.
professional, social, networking, outdated, model
Tuesday, 23 January 2018 03:31 PM
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