Linkedin LIONs no longer Roar

It’s about 10 years since I first joined LinkedIn, the social network for business professionals. Over the years it’s grown in leaps and bounds to over 350 million users. Not surprisingly LinkedIn it is not blocked in mainland China, and has a solid integration with the mobile messing app, Wechat.

LinkedIn LessonsAs one of the websites I use on a daily basis, I’ve finally had enough of increasing spam. I have only 24 hours per day to do what we need to do and reading yet another Inbox filled with clutter is not high on my values. So because of “Information Overload” it’s imperative that I cull my social media usage often.

You won’t be missing anything earth shattering if you do the same.

Back in 2006 I read an ebook on the benefits of open networking in LinkedIn. It is based on the work of Mark Granovetter, a social scientist, and his Theory of Weak Social Ties. This theory made a big impression on me, and I decided to put it onto practice in my every day life. This lead to a rapid expansion of my online connections.

My own approach led to competition with my good friend Brian Carl Brown. For several years we competed to see who had the most LinkedIn connections in South Africa. In 2015 it turns out this has become a meaningless measure.

LinkedIn, the company, is listed on the stock market. Therefore its doing everything possible to increase users and usage as one important metric for a public tech company. It automatically pulls in Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and other online contact lists. It’s constantly suggesting “people you may know” and in most cases, you can connect without their email address.

This brings me to LinkedIn LIONS. A life time ago this was the best way to quickly expand your network reach. One of the attributes of LinkedIn is that you can only see people who are 3rd level connections. So you can never search the entire database of users and you can never by found by everyone on the website, not within 3 levels. Your reach grows exponentially as you grow your first level, direct connections.

Today I removed myself from the TopLinkedIn group. LinkedIn LIONS promise to accept all invitation – this is open networking. However, this is one of the biggest sources of unsolicited requests that just fill up my Inbox. For the last 3 years I have been unable to keep up with the number of connection requests from LinkedIn.

So as it continued to grow, the value of my LinkedIn network has negatively impacted my experience. The more people I am connected with, the more spam I received.

Recently I deleted several hundred people without photos, without profile headlines. Most of us have too many online connections and profiles. A clean slate is not always possible, so the next best thing is prune your profiles regularly.

If you’re no longer connected to me, it’s probably because we’ve never met, or never had a telephone conversation. In case I don’t see you, good afternoon, good evening and good night.


Social media tools

Social Media Tools Ramon Thomas South AfricaThere are plenty of social media tools that can be used in the different social media internet sites. These social media tools were set up to be used to enhance the different activities that one can do in these websites. There are tools that provide and edit pictures, video and audio files. Some social media tools are measuring tools or enhancement tools that can make one’s website more accessible to the public. There are social media tools that manage the content of the pages that are to be published in the websites

The more important social media tools are blogging tools and twitter tools that maximize the use of these activities in developing a market for those engaged in internet marketing. Blogging and tweeting are by themselves social media tools that can be used to enhance the value of an account or website. The numerous social media sites dominating the internet today has inspired many developers to provide more social media tools that can be used in conjunction with the popular websites.

Those who wish to make use of the different major social media internet sites are advised to rely on advisors or coaches who offer their services and who can determine which of the social media tools are applicable for one’s situation. These coaches can provide effective methods of using the facilities of the different websites and utilize these sites as possible outlets for the products or ideas that their clients may wish to sell. It must be understood that the techniques and skills that can be used to fully convert one’s contacts in the social internet sites to actual customers have been carefully studied and planned by experts who are willing to impart their knowledge and to show their clients the best way to use the different social media tools to achieve this goal.


Google plus is a minus

Google+ book by Guy Kawasaki
Most people in my workshops have either not heard of Google+ or do nothing after signing up. They feel this way because like 850 million other people, they invested heavily in Facebook profiles Google’s new social network arrived. They lament, not another social network, another profile to update. Does anyone even remember Orkut?

Google+ launched in June 2011, 7 years after Facebook, and 8 years after LinkedIn opened their doors. What many South Africans may not know is that it’s the big G’s second attempt at social networking after the failure of Orkut launched in 2004. For me Google+ is not valuable because nobody cares enough to spend real time on it. When I post an update, I do not even look at who comments.

The value of a social network is proportional to the engagement from you and your network. So when you post and nobody responds, the value is low to almost nothing – there is no engagement without feedback or sharing. After listening to investor Roger McNamee during a Bloomberg (DStv channel 411) interviewed, it confirmed my original scepticism.

Before it launched to the public, you required a Google+ invitation to join. This was the same way Gmail launched, and it was a form of permission marketing (thanks Seth Godin) that worked for the email product. For Google+ it’s become more of a form of spamming people into creating profiles.

Bruce Mubayiwa, a LinkedIn consultant, thinks Google+ prospects could get more interesting as Google increases integration. He believes there are plans to weave in Google Analytics and this could increase usage of Google+ overall.

The key realisation is that managing multiple social networks is unproductive. In the 21st century time or attention is the most valuable resource, not gold or silver. Microsoft and Google face substantial challenges as global usage of the Web moves away from the Desktop to apps on smartphones and tablets. That means more and more Internet users bypass search engines because they engage from their Twitter or Facebook apps directly.

Google must do whatever it takes to catch-up with Facebook. People have agreed to give enormous amounts of personal information to Facebook. In return Facebook gives them an online social experience like no other. In contrast Google is not where you go to connect with your family or friends. You use it mostly to search for information, maybe send emails and get on with the favourite social network or shopping site.


Short History of Social Media

Amidst the sudden ascent of LinkedIn, Twitter, Groupon, and of course, Facebook, it’s easy to forget that social media actually has a bit of a history going back more than 30 years. Really?

Law firm Morrison & Foerster has put together just such a timeline graphic of online communities in its latest issue of Socially Aware, the only newsletter focusing on legal and business issues surrounding social media. (see page 4).

A Short History of Social Media” goes back to February 1978 – date of the first dial-up CBBS, as in computerized bulletin board service. Other SM milestones you may have forgotten or slept through:

  • 1995: launch of personal home-page server Geocities, later purchased by Yahoo! for whopping $3.6 billion. Geocities was ultimately shut down in 2009.
  • 1997: launch of Kevin Bacon-inspired, which soon claims a breakthrough one MILLION users.
  • August 1999: introduction of first web plain vanilla blog service, Blogger, which went on to be acquired by Google.
  • March 2002: debut of warm-and-fuzzy Friendster, which peaks a few years later before fading out like the Winkelvoss twins at the end of a regatta.
  • July 2003: birth of MySpace, which sets new standard for personalized networking and branding; company acquired by News Corp. in 2005 for euphoric $580 million, only to be unloaded this past June to a digital media buyer (one of whose investors is Justin Timberlake) for $35 million.
  • December 2006: Facebook rejects bid to be acquired by Yahoo! for measly price of….$1 billion.

Now, of course, the mileposts are coming in nanoseconds – from LinkedIn’s rocket-launch IPO this past May to Twitter’s jaw-dropping marker of delivering 350 BILLION Tweets per day upon reaching just its fifth anniversary in July.

Socially Aware is to social media legal/business news what TMZ is to gossip: breezy, short bites and all over the map. A tight-knit group of nearly two dozen Morrison & Foerster tech, IP, privacy, litigation, venture capital and other lawyers closely monitors social media news sites, blogs, online publications and Twitter feeds to grab the freshest industry topics and provide a knowing spin. Socially Aware was good enough to earn a coveted Burton Award for excellence in legal writing and analysis in just its first year of publication.

“We’re reaching well beyond other lawyers – including marketing professionals, business development specialists, digital strategists, brand managers, investors, start-up owners and others” said Morrison & Foerster technology transactions partner John Delaney, one of several top editors of Socially Aware who also created the social media timeline. The newsletter has more than 15,000 regular subscribers and is drawing more than 100 new readers a month – hot numbers for a law firm bulletin without a single footnote or case citation.

More importantly, Socially Aware is generating billable work. Delaney notes that the newsletter has helped bring in new client matters on behalf of a large bank, a global manufacturer and multinational insurer, a leading media company and an international technology company, among other businesses grappling with a wide range of social media agendas. Example: the firm is advising one financial services firm in structuring an innovative contest on Facebook.

Socially Aware is in keeping with Morrison & Foerster’s high technology IQ — the firm was the first major law firm to develop an iPhone App. Morrison Foerster also publishes MoFo Tech, a quarterly magazine featuring longer news features on all aspects of tech business – from patent valuations to IPOs, venture capital and data privacy.

Other news notes from the new Socially Aware:

• An organization called Medical Justice joins the growing online reputation-management industry by recommending that doctors – precluded by patient confidentiality from responding to negative online reviews – require patients to sign away their rights to complain, but also assign doctors copyrights to any such reviews. The issue makes DMCA experts squirm, while medical ethicists say it might violate doctors’ oaths to place patients’ medical interests before their own financial needs.

• What’s the problem with using social media to raise money? If the amount is, say, $300 million to buy a beer company, with a promise of part ownership, the SEC just might respond with a cease and desist order. “Crowdfunding” – fundraising through social media sites – is currently subject to state and federal securities laws, though crowdfunding advocates are pushing for an exemption. Socially Aware addresses the potential for fraud and other abuse that might come with an SEC exemption.

Additional topics include a concise overview of the Kerry-McCain privacy bill now before Congress; limitations to safe harbor rules protecting web-site operators from liability for user-generated content; reaction to the latest revisions to Facebook’s user guidelines; and the decision by Twitter’s co-founders to step away and create a new venture that will be a global force for good.

Socially Aware will shortly become an actively updated blog. Until then, here’s the link again to a PDF of the current issue.


Konnects? No! please not another business social network invitation

Konnects a LinkedIn clone in business networking websitesJohn Wilson wrote a great little rebuttel for joining Konnects, a new business social network. He aptly calls it a poor LinkedIn clone. After ignoring previous requests I had to write about this because the person who invited me to join I hold in high esteem: Stan Relihan. In the past I have praised The Connections Show podcast hosted by Stan Relihan here because of the high quality of the guests interviewed and how succinct it is by comparison to other business podcasts.

So here’s the confusion: Stan has positioned himself as a leading evangalist for LinkedIn so this email is unwarrented and unsolicited. What we need is not more social networking websites but rather a better use of the existing ones. The same holds true for MySpace vs Facebook debate.


Bill Gates asks a question on LinkedIn Answers

Bill GatesLinkedIn has recently upgraded it’s home page and functionality to be more inline with the competition like Facebook. However, I’ve never really perceived Facebook as direct competition for LinkedIn because they focus on different markets completely. As you may know Facebook is more of a student hangout and LinkedIn has always been a place for business people.

So recently Bill Gates created a profile on LinkedIn and also posted the following question on the fantastic LinkedIn Answers service: How can we do more to encourage young people to pursue careers in science and technology?

So far it has attracted over 3,500 answers and it’s still open and you can post your answer to his question directly on LinkedIn. There has since been a lot of debate because he also deleted his Facebook account after being bombarded by friend requests from fans. Whats amusing is how many questions have been posted about his question. A favourite of mine is: what is the best strategy to get invited to join Bill Gates’ network on Linkedin.

Anyway what does it means when one of the most powerful men in the business world makes such a public move. Think of chess where every move counts because Microsoft recently bought 1.6% of Facebook for US$240 million. LinkedIn is privately owned and there is speculation about Microsoft buying into LinkedIn. LinkedIn would be a much cheaper purchase and in my opinion a better one because of it’s business focus. Bill Gates has always been Microsoft’s best salesman and and his personal moves will always be associated with the their corporate strategy.

There’s so much more to say about this but for me the key here this move by Bill Gates confirms that LinkedIn is the best social networking website for business people.


The Connections Show, an excellent business networking podcast

Stan Relihan Sydney Autralia LinkedIn userThe Connections Show is a weekly podcast hosted by Stan Relihan, one of Australia’s most connected LinkedIn users, and a professional recruiter based in Sydney. This is one of the most practically useful business podcasts I’ve discovered on the Web. And it’s a real surprise that it comes from Australia, not America like most of the other podcasts I subscribe to using Apple iTunes. So far there’s been 23 shows and I listen to them religiously. One of the motivations is that it’s only 20 minutes long. This allows you to digest the information quickly and easily in this attention deficient age we all live in.

Some of the shows that stand out for me are the following:

  • Conversations with a LION – Christian Mayaud
  • A Taste of LinkedIn Intelligence – Scott Allen
  • Talking with the Queen of LinkedIn Q&A – Sheliah Etheridge
  • Secrets of Successful Selling – Craig Elias
  • King of Yahoo! Groups – Vincent Wright

There is a great need for short, high quality podcasts like this one, which is also exceptionally well targeted to a growing niche. Stan Relihan, the host of this podcast does a good job most of time in getting the best from the guests. Every now and then there is a disconnect between the topics discussed and LinkedIn or business networking. And this could create problems for future shows if it continues to be a weekly. That would require over 50 guests, some of which deservingly could feature a 2nd time like the above mentioned people.

So I recommend you subscribe to The Connections Show or at least listen to a few shows directly from the Podcast Network, where it’s hosted. You may also be interested in my new business social networking workshops in South Africa, where I teach how to use online networking tools to increase your sales, grow your revenue and boost your profile in your industry.


Download my LinkedIn Lessons ebook

This week I’m expanding my LinkedIn connections. This has become a weekly ritual to expand my network and reach. You’re welcome to connect with Ramon Thomas on  LinkedIn, the business social network.

Anyway, here’s the problem: Business social networking is something I believe is truly valuable. So download my LinkedIn Lessons ebook. You’re welcome to share it with anyone.

Learn how to use business networking with superior social influence by reading my CNBC Africa interview or listen to my interview on LinkToYourWorld podcast

LinkedIn Lessons Ebook

This ebook is an update and revision of How to Double Your Income in 6 Months Using LinkedIn written by Joe Bartling, now more than 2 years old. I have unsuccessfully tried to contact him to seek his permission to update this document. His own blog was last updated in 24 Feb 2007 so I am not sure if he’s still around.

Anyway I’ve always been naturally good with connecting with new people, building rapport quickly when meeting them. At the same time I’ve maintained friendships all the way from primary school to date. When I discovered Joe’s ebook I finally understand, scientifically, how to begin realising the potential of my network. Since then I’ve also become student of communication and influence. In my own business, NETucation, which I started in 2004, I help help people understand online opportunities using the psychology of technology.

LinkedIn is a service designed for one purpose: to help professionals find and connect
with one another more effectively. It’s not designed to be a portal, sell products on eBay,
or search the web for one of a billion innocuous web pages or bargains. I should say up front that I am not a principal, employee or otherwise connected to LinkedIn, Ltd., its investors, or its principals and founders including Reid Hoffman. I’m just another fan of the technology, and if I were to build one focused on business executives and professionals, it would be exactly what LinkedIn already is.


This ebook is only an introduction to social networking for business people. You can explore the following additional resources once you’ve mastered the strategies contained here:

Guy Kawasaki blog postings:

More excellent articles:


The Impact of Social Networking on the Value of Information

Last week I was invited to present a lecture at the University of Johannesburg by the Department of Information & Knowledge Management where I am an alumni as well as currently registered for my Masters degree in Information Science. Contact Andrea Ferreira if you would to be added to their list for similar seminars held every couple of months.

The key points were as follows:

  • Information pollution is devaluing faster then ever before – So learn how to avoid or stop information pollution and information overload.
  • The numbers: Worldwide Internet users over 1.1 billion, worldwide cellphone users: over 2.5 billion, IM users approximately 580 million users, Social networking users approximately over 300 million
  • MySpace and Facebook are both huge social networks for teenagers and increasingly people over 35. MySpace is particularly strong in the entertainment industry and Facebook has loyal support from the university/college campuses while experiencing explosive growth in South Africa.
  • LinkedIn is the most useful social networking tool for professionals with over 12 million registered users worldwide and over 25,000 in South Africa. It’s changing the way recruitment is done as well as background checks on new employees. You may be interested in the excellent ebook: How to double your income in six months using LinkedIn.
  • The concept of Six Degrees of Separation and the Small World theory is the basis for the success of online social networks.
  • Google has been a key driver in the emergence of the long tail in marketing and onlie retail. Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace for $580 million in 2005 and people thought he was crazy and not long afterwards signed an exclusive deal with Google guaranteeing at least $900 million over 3 years. Facebook users generate about $6 in advertising revenue while MySpace users only generate about $2. And based on Youtube‘s value it’s 124 million unique monthly visitors are worth about $13.
  • According to Rich Shefren, the information age is dead and we now live in the attention age. People with elements of ADD have an advantage because they can focus for short periods and maintain productivity levels while switching between tasks. Ordinary people’s potential efficiency is reduced each time they change tasks by 20% to 40% depending on the complexity of the tasks at hand. The abundance of choice impacts decision making because most people are NOT trained how to evaluate source of information. And therefore there exists a Paradox of Choice.

Some recommended resources of where you can start research and narrow your focus on more valuable information are: Squidoo, ChangeThis, Google Answers and to a lesser extent Yahoo! Answers. And if you still have not make some time to read the entire Cluetrain Manifesto, published in full on the website. As a side note if you are interested in the rise of Blogging read the quarterly report by Technorati: The State of the Live Web.

You can view the presentation or download it from here:


How to Increase Your Online Profile with LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a very popular business social networking website. The primary aim of LinkedIn is to help you connect with other professionals directly within our own country and worldwide. It now have over 9 million registered users. South Africa currently has 24800 users and I’ve just entered the top 5. This is up from #8 which I’ve been for the last few months. My goal is to reach number 1 before end of 2007.

View Ramon Thomas's profile on LinkedInLinkedIn in allows you to create a Public Profile with a unique URL. My own LinkedIn URL is currently ranked number 7 on my the Google SERPs for my name. This is one of the ways you can ensure that when people search for you – they find you – and more specifically they find the information about you, that you want them to find. Your LinkedIn profile becomes like a live online resume with endorsements which keeps growing.

LinkedIn recently launched a Q&A service which allows you to post questions to the entire network. My own questions were answered by several different people within days. And this is amazing when you consider the value or how much you would have to pay these experts to gain their insight. Why bother answering other people’s questions you may ask? Well it boosts your profile inside the LinkedIn network and therefore brings more opportunities to you. It really comes down to a different mindset that understands how value is created i.e. By giving more, you receive more. And you need to give first before expecting anything in return. And the less you expect, the more you are surprised by does end up coming your way.

You may be interested in my half-day workshop on online social networking for entrepreneurs, consultants, contractors and anyone who’s freelancing. If you work in recruitment industry LinkedIn is something that you should really pay attention to because its completely changing the way executive search and talent management is taking place.

LinkedIn Resources