While I do regularly accept my LinkedIn invitations, I can’t say that I get a lot out of being a member there. In contrast to that, I have been a paying Premium member (~ 5 EUR/month) of the german founded social Network XING for about 6 years now.
What I like about XING is the well structured UI, and the focus on being able to see changes in your network. XING gives me a start page that will show me
- which of my contacts has changed something in their profile
- which of my contacts has added someone to their network
- who has visited my profile page(!), as well as where they came from (search, click on forum post etc.)
All this is information that keeps me going back to the site daily, and makes sure I get back to contacts now and when. There are also searches like “contacts that have changed jobs in the last month”.
XING keeps adding features, like dopplr or Twitter integration, regularly. The latest one is a cloud of skills that you can enter, add a detailed experience level, and then ask your contacts to confirm them. This is basically a living breathing CV with references and confirmed (!) skills.
I have started to play with that yesterday, and I like it quite a bit. The confirmations are way less awkward to request than official references, and they also point specifically to a certain skill. By looking at who confirmed that skill and what their job is, you might find an extra bit of credibility (having a customer confirming a skill vs. a colleague).
Here are some observations I have, as well as room for improvement:
- getting to the skill confirmations takes too many clicks – I wouls like a “confirm/reject” button directly in my contacts activities list
- right now you can only have your skills confirmed by sending out requests. I would like to be able to give unsolicited feedback to skills that my contacts enter
- I think the skills cloud is so important and says so much about who you are professionally that it should be on top of your profile page if you use it, not hidden under “applications”
- the skills cloud/list should also show the number of confirmations in the cloud, clicking on it should send you to the lisz of people who confirmed it
- I would like to be able to upgrade a skill. If I have gotten better at something, I’d like to be able my proficiency there.
Since my requests went out, just about everyone who answered has also added the application and started sending out requests. I think XING has another winner here that might go viral.