In the Freemium Economy, How Do You Share and Still Derive Value?

Where do the lines between manipulation and good business practices intersect?  The answer to this is situational and a bit of consistency may be what’s needed these days.

Recently, I sent a LinkedIn profile of a person as a recommendation to a contact of mine.  The response that I received back from the person was, “Sorry, Joel, I don’t do LinkedIn.  Will you please forward me her resume’.”

Knowing that this guy was on LinkedIn, because we are connected on the site, I pressed a bit further to check my own understanding.  I responded, “it’s just a link, you don’t have to ‘do LinkedIn’ to look at the profile.”  His response was that when he clicked on the link it required him to log-in to view the profile.

I was disappointed in this and chastised myself a bit for thinking this person a Luddite when, in fact, it was LinkedIn with whom I was a bit irked.

A bit of background, I am a ‘Premium’ subscriber of LinkedIn, I use it and I believe it to be a good tool for business.  In this instance, though, I see their model as a bit short-sighted and perhaps a bit manipulative.

What I mean is that I copied the link of this person’s profile from my browser and I was logged-in at the time.  No doubt there was embedded code that tracked where the link came from.  When the recipient of my message was subsequently required to log-in to view the profile, I felt a bit cheated. Based on my relationship with them, LinkedIn should allow anyone to view a profile that I forward to be viewed fully.  What a great source of leads!

Why couldn’t they have allowed him to view the profile as ‘freemium’ instead of asking him to log-in?  In their defense, it is possible that there was a cookie on his computer that they knew he was a member and wanted him to log-in.

If this is true, it doesn’t change my feeling.  They still could say something the lines of “we see that you’re a member of LinkedIn, would you like to log-in to unlock all of the productive tools that LinkedIn has available or do you want to only view the profile?  Thanks for using LinkedIn.”

Despite all of technology to track, report and influence interactions in business, I still believe in the importance of a relationship between the buyer and seller coupled with the delivery of outstanding service and value.  What we give out we will get back and ultimately be paid.

To me, that’s an identity, not a wish.



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