Brian Wallace presenting on LinkedIn Live
PHOTO: Brian Wallace

Just a few years ago, most people barely acknowledged LinkedIn as a social network. “Oh, LinkedIn? I never really pay attention to that.” was a popular refrain. While most people were snoozing, LinkedIn was growing, and a combination of LinkedIn influencers and back-to-back rollouts of new features made LinkedIn the place for businesspeople to network online — and now offline, as well.

LinkedIn Influencers Are a Thing

The people who blazed the trail in the early days of LinkedIn’s expansion did so because they saw an opportunity to leverage this vast network where most people were completely asleep at the wheel. Influencers like Michaela Alexis, String Nguyen, Kerri Twigg, Tim Salau and more began to advise others how to optimize their profiles and make the most of the preferred social network of the big leagues. It was a global grassroots movement that achieved what it set out to do — get people to take LinkedIn more seriously.

Then Came LinkedIn Local

Once people began to take LinkedIn more seriously, networks began to grow to include more than just the 17 people in your office and one person you knew in college. It turns out you can actually connect with people you don’t know at all and get to know each other over LinkedIn, growing your network far beyond your physical barriers — sort of like thinking globally for networking.

Then another LinkedIn trailblazer, Anna McAfee, started the #LinkedInLocal movement when she set out to meet folks from her online network offline and was soon joined by four other founders — Swish Goswami, Alexandra Galviz, Erik Eklund and Ryan Troll. The movement spread across the world and now LinkedIn Local meetups happen every day.

As LinkedIn has grown, the network has developed new features to accommodate this new level of interest. You can turn on Find Nearby to find people you might already be connected to in a crowded conference, and you can generate a QR code to help people find your profile.

Related Article: Enough With the Spam: 3 LinkedIn Networking Tactics for Marketers

LinkedIn Live: The Next Big Thing From LinkedIn

linkedin live
One thing that has been consistently missing from the LinkedIn experience has been a true live streaming video. LinkedIn has had video capability for a while, but it has not been something that is interactive where you can see audience questions in real time and respond right there in the video.

Now LinkedIn Live is in beta. A few people across the world have access to it, and I am one of them. You can choose your video streaming service from an approved list, which includes Switcher Studio and others, to produce high-quality, engaging content.

The holdup has likely been related to figuring out how exactly to roll out a live video streaming feature that is going to uphold the professional feel of LinkedIn — we don’t really need another Facebook Live where people can make videos about their lunch on a whim.

My first LinkedIn Live video took place at a LinkedIn Local event, and my second took place at LinkedIn’s New York Headquarters where I talked with LinkedIn intern turned business solutions consultant, Aaron Fawzy.

My initial impressions are that this is going to be a great way to deepen professional relationships through the open sharing of information, and the biggest difference is that this sharing of information will now be collaborative thanks to real-time feedback and commentary.

If you want to prepare for the rollout of LinkedIn Live, polish up your profile and show that you can create high-quality, meaningful, and relevant content. It’s a great way to deepen your professional connections and grow your career.

Related Article: Why Marketers Think LinkedIn Is on the Rise