THE BLOG

Open Letter to Jeff Weiner -- Help Make LinkedIn a Force for Good

06/25/2015 12:40 pm ET | Updated Jun 25, 2016

Below is my open letter to LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner. Originally published on LinkedIn on June 22.

Dear Jeff:

There's no doubt that LinkedIn has become the world's best place to connect professionally and build your network.

I see a way it could be even better -- especially when it comes to managing your professional identity -- and letting users know if you're the right person for a job.

It comes down to the fact that character counts, not just credentials and job experience.

LinkedIn profiles understandably emphasize professional accomplishments. And that kind of information is crucial when someone scans your profile to evaluate you as a potential job candidate, business colleague, or for any other reason they might want to size you up.

But your expertise, experience and accomplishments are just one dimension of who you are. Technically, these indicate "threshold" competencies -- the abilities someone needs for a given position.

What they don't indicate is what kind of person you are. And that can make all the difference. In the HR world these are "distinguishing" abilities, the ones that set star performers apart from mediocre. (In fact, I was pleased to see on the LinkedIn for Volunteers page that a large percentage of hiring managers consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience when evaluating candidates.)

One aspect of distinguishing abilities is your emotional intelligence -- how you handle yourself and your relationships. Are you self-aware? Do you stay calm and clear during a crisis? Can you stay focused on your long-term goals? Do you tune in to other people? Listen? Communicate effectively? Collaborate well?

But who you are goes beyond such emotional intelligence competencies to include your character. Do you have integrity? Are you compassionate? Character counts. As Fred Kiel found, managers high in character traits like integrity and compassion got business results five times greater than those with fewer positive character traits.

Apart from the enhanced business acumen, there's the human reality that we simply feel more secure and positive around people who have both emotional intelligence and good character. And we can work better.

So what are ways to tell if a person has such qualities?

Just as you heard from your fireside chat with Matthieu Ricard about his new book Altruism, I got the same message while interviewing the Dalai Lama for A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama's Vision for the World [a pro-bono project with all royalties donated to charity because I agree with his message].

The Dalai Lama adds another point: each of us can move the world in a better direction -- but exactly what we can do differs greatly from person to person.

One person might volunteer as a "big brother" or "big sister" for a disadvantaged kid. Someone else might spend their Sunday mornings helping in a homeless shelter.

As for me, I will commit to:

  1. Dedicating more of my LinkedIn Influencer posts to highlight good work people and organizations are doing, just like Chip Bergh and Bill Gates.
  2. Sharing more stories from your Social Impact channel on all of my social media feeds.
  3. Reminding my personal contacts to update their profiles to include volunteer experience and causes they support.
  4. Posting LinkedIn volunteer opportunities with my networks, including the A Force for Good LinkedIn group.

Jeff, you have the ability to encourage more LinkedIn members to include making a positive impact on the world in their definition of opportunity.

I have a few suggestions to help you accomplish this:

  1. Make the "Volunteering Experience" and "Causes You Care About" more prominent and framed so they are more inviting -- maybe lump them under "Good Works" so more folks list the good they do. Or develop a "volunteer badge" members can prominently place in their profile. This would show that LinkedIn recognizes and values people's acts of goodness -- and give all of us a better sense of the kind of person we are dealing with.
  2. Develop and share more LinkedIn for Volunteers case studies in your LinkedIn Pulse feed. I'd love to hear how the connections paid off, and I think others would too.
  3. Create more content packages for Influencers to highlight stories about good work in their organizations or communities.
  4. Consider creating a Good Works channel for companies to inspire leaders to do good while doing well -- everything from B Corporations and corporate social responsibility initiatives to charitable work by employees.

Together we can all create a greater force for good.