Is LinkedIn kicking the competition while they are down?

If English is not your first language chances are that you are active on more than one professional network such as LinkedIn. Services like Viadeo, Xing and others are then probably part of your social media strategy.

The hard news is that since the rise of LinkedIn-Today these platforms are clearly struggling to find a model with which to compete. Their biggest challenge is to make their users coming back and engage.

LinkedIn has not only understood and perfected the art of engagement but even manages to pull traditional discussions from other sites into its own domain. LinkedIn gives anyone who speaks English the opportunity to move their professional comments over to LinkedIn and so target their professional connections with statements & opinions making sure that they stay visible to customers, partners or colleagues. Recently LinkedIn have also added the possibility to create profiles in other languages and so getting the attention of those users that until then were only engaging on Xing & Viadeo.

Those of us who are active on these other platforms will face the dilemma of not knowing which of these platforms their social connections spend most of their time. So the strategy is usually to post to all these networks in order to ensure that your connections see you.

For this to work it is equally important to regularly synchronize your contacts between these platforms, e.g., export your connections from Viadeo to Xing and then upload them to LinkedIn to see who you already know there (or vice versa).


On 19th Dec. 2012 I filed a bug report complaining that the export functionality in LinkedIn no longer works. Whether this affects all users or just a few is unclear. Fact is that you can no longer export your connections and then sync with Gmail-Contacts, Viadeo or any other service. Contacts you have made on LinkedIn stay on LinkedIn.

I don’t know about you but to me this smells like a convenient bug for LinkedIn. After all what  can LinkedIn gain from allowing you to take your contacts with you? From a strategic business perspective it makes perfect sense to ensure that users do all their networking on LinkedIn. It creates a one-way flow (one-way because Xing and Viadeo still allow you to export the connections and then upload them to LinkedIn).

For us users this is bad news for several reasons! Not only do we get more and more locked in by their service, but also we won’t benefit if LinkedIn is the only kid one the block. Also not being able to sync your contacts with your webmail account will mean that one has no other option than go back to LinkedIn in order to look up somebodies contact details (and hence again visit the site and create valuable traffic and page-impressions). Genius YES, but also evil IMHO!

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