How LinkedIn Changed My Life
Today I received notice that I was accepted into the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Perhaps I was accepted because today is my birthday, but it immediately made me reflect on my relationship with LinkedIn, how LinkedIn has changed my life and the lessons learned from those experiences.
In 2003 I was an MBA graduate looking for a job at a startup and was introduced to Reid Hoffman through a mutual friend. Although LinkedIn wasn't hiring people with my background (no startup or technology experience) I did have the opportunity to meet Reid, learn about the business and as a result became fascinated with the social media space. That chance meeting ended up being fundamental to my eventually finding a business development job at a competitor of LinkedIn called Spoke.
Lesson: Career success takes a network and you never know what meetings or weak ties will lead you to the outcome you want.
By late 2004, it became clear that Spoke did not have the leadership, product or momentum to compete with LinkedIn. In 2004, I received an InMail via LinkedIn from a recruiter looking for a young and aggressive business development executive at Plaxo, a rapidly growing social address book company. I took the interview, was very impressed with the team, company, investors and product, and ended up joining the company.
Lesson: Be willing to explore new opportunities and look for hidden benefits. Plaxo eventually sold for $180M but it was my relationship Jon Callaghan (a board member and future investor in BrightRoll) that changed my life the most.
In 2006, I decided there was a fundamental shift happening in the consumption of online video and I left Plaxo to start BrightRoll, a video advertising platform. For the first few years we recruited engineers and sales people primarily from our personal network. However, it quickly became clear that we weren't going to scale to 100s of employees on our personal network alone. After a call from an old friend named Mike Gamson, I decided to give LinkedIn Recruiter a try. From that day on, LinkedIn has been the primary recruiting tool used by BrightRoll and was one of the best recruiting decisions we ever made.
Lesson: As an entrepreneur, capital is your most scarce asset. However, the LinkedIn Recruiter math was simple — hire one person a year and it's a positive ROI. There is no better recruiting tool in the world.
In 2011, I decided that BrightRoll needed a VP of engineering to help us quickly scale from 15 developers to over 100 developers in order to better serve our customers and meet the rapidly evolving needs of the industry. After actively searching for six months, we still had not found the right person for the job. One day, a friend encouraged me to reach out to Chris Amen-Kroeger at Conviva, implying that he may be open to making a change. Without hesitation I sent him an InMail and we were chatting on the phone within 24 hours. A month later, Chris joined the company as VP of Engineering and we are well on the path to our 100th developer.
Lesson: Be aggressive and use InMails. Everyone reads their email (even if they tell you they don't) and nothing is more powerful than a well timed and well written new job opportunity.
Now, as an LinkedIn Influencer I'm excited to see the ways in which LinkedIn continues to impact my life, career and company. I encourage you to share stories of how LinkedIn has changed your life in the comments below.
Photo credit: JeffreyKatra.com