04/09/2012 11:53 am ET Updated Jun 09, 2012

When to Buy Linkedin Stock

I'm not a particularly active investor, but I think I'll buy Linkedin Stock when they change the upper limit of contacts they'll display for someone from 500+ to 1000+.

Browse your contacts on Linkedin and you'll see the exact number of contacts each of your contacts have, provided the number is less than 500. If it's more than 500, Linkedin simply displays 500+.

I remember signing up for Linkedin several years back and browsing my friends to see how many people they were connected to. My contacts were in the 300 range, and while I knew that the utility of the service was directly related to the number of people with whom I had relationships, I was in no particular rush to add people. I figured I would opportunistically add people as it occurred to me. Then I began to see the increasing rate at which my friends reached the 500 plus level.

I'm not particularly active in building a public persona on Twitter or Facebook, and don't feel particularly competitive in the usual attention or following I draw on the social networks. But this 500 threshold for the dominant business social network felt something like a competition, so I set about adding people to reach the magic bar. Because not everyone is on Linkedin, and not everyone I listed confirmed a relationship immediately, I needed to add something in the range of 400 names to get 200 confirmations. Probably 1/3 of the names were not people in Linkedin, which meant I was doing what Linkedin and every social network wanted me to do -- namely market for them by inviting people to join.

I challenged all of my employees to also hit the 500 threshold. It would be good for their reputation and good for Xtify and MeetMoi for them to do so.

So was there some functional or scalability benefit to Linkedin in designing the 500 threshold or was Linkedin trying to encourage exactly the competitive behavior that motivated me to add contacts at a rapid clip?

I haven't asked anyone there, but I'd bet the latter is the case. Regardless, the benefits are obvious. Linkedin's revenue is directly related to the number of people that are on the network and arguably the level at which they are interconnected. More people means a greater audience to which to advertise and recruit. Greater connectivity correlates to the utility of the network to Linkedin's customers and would be reflected in more usage and page views.

If I were the CEO of Linkedin now, I'd be looking at the percentage of my users that had hit the 500 threshold and getting ready to increase that threshold number to 1000. I'm currently at 983 contacts, which means it wouldn't be a lot of work for me to reach 1000+. But I bet the majority of people that have 500+ contacts are less than 1000, and that means that if the limit was lifted, we'd likely see a rapid burst of activity from existing users to make sure they didn't appear as anything less than uber-connected.

A simple switch for Linkedin to make that involves no added expenditures. The benefit would be immediate and obvious.

When Linkedin changes the 500+ display to 1000+, my money says it's a good time to buy the stock.

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