By Kevin O'Keefe

Mario Sundar of LinkedIn [LexBlog Q & A]

Unlike most working folks in the professional world, Mario Sundar can legitimately say that a LinkedIn profile is all he needs to highlight his professional experience. After all, what good is a static website bio page when you’re employed by a company that has grown through its ability to render such traditional methods of showcasing expertise obsolete?

As community evangelist for LinkedIn and editor of the LinkedIn blog, Mario – who also writes Marketing Nirvana, a blog covering marketing and social networking – spoke to us in an official capacity, commenting on how LinkedIn uses their official blog to communicate with users and where some the site’s more recent features (groups, etc.) may ultimately become. See the full text after the jump.

1. Rob La Gatta: Why did you start the LinkedIn Blog?

Mario Sundar: The LinkedIn Blog was started with the desire to provide an easy access to LinkedIn users where they could turn to, either with a question, comment or feedback. If I could enumerate the reasons we had on top-of-mind when we started the blog, it was to:

  • Be the source of information on all things related to LinkedIn, whether it be new features or tips-and-tricks to get the most out of LinkedIn
  • Be a point-of-contact with our users when they had questions related to [the] product or otherwise
  • Proactively initiate the conversation on professional networking with the millions of LinkedIn users (currently 21 million and counting…)
  • Maintain that conversation via active participation through comments on both our blog as well as other blogs out there
  • Educate users on how to best use LinkedIn (Best Practices, Tips-and-Tricks, How other professionals are using LinkedIn, etc…)
  • Take user feedback to our internal teams (product, engineering, design, etc…)

2. Rob La Gatta: Do you see any value in someday having members of the LinkedIn management team writing for the blog? Do any of them blog already?

Mario Sundar: Absolutely. The role of the blog is to break down the barrier that sometimes exist between internal teams of an organization and the users of a product/service. As Hugh Macleod of Gaping Void succinctly puts it, it’s about making more porous the membrane that exists between the two.

We’ve had our CEO, Dan Nye, respond to user feedback on earlier blog posts (via NYT blog). We’ve also had our VP of Product Strategy and co-founder Allen Blue, blog in the past. Moving forward, I hope to bring other members of the team to either blog or respond to user comments. Also, I’m really glad that we’ve had almost 40 colleagues of mine (from product, engineering and design) contribute on our blog already. That’s like 18% of the workforce [that] has already blogged on the LinkedIn blog.

3. Rob La Gatta: What type of response has the blog generated from users? Have any changes to the site’s UI come directly from feedback posted in comments at the blog?

Mario Sundar: The blog definitely has a very healthy involvement from the users with an average of 9 comments/post. Of course, some product posts receive almost 75 comments, so it widely varies with each post (as is expected). We’ve had everything from kudos to product feedback on the blog, and I make it a point to reroute that feedback to the right individuals.

Changes do happen via user feedback: most recently, we introduced RSS updates for Network Updates, which had been asked by users in the past. And, as I said, I definitely make it a point to take an aggregation of user feedback to product/engineering, teams etc…

4. Rob La Gatta: We started a Legal Blogging group and saw it take off almost overnight. Have you seen similar results with other groups? Ideally, what purpose would LinkedIn Groups serve?

Mario Sundar: LinkedIn Groups is, in my opinion, a dark-horse feature…and one of my personal favorites. Since we made it easier to start and maintain groups on LinkedIn, we’ve seen it take off in a big way. Currently, groups not only help you stay in touch with like minded professionals, but also connect with them directly (which is something you cannot do as a free member).

You also have the opportunity to attach a badge, whereby your professional preferences can virally spread through your network updates. Moving forward, the product team is working on helping you get more out of groups. Stay tuned to the LinkedIn Blog for news on that as and when it happens.

5. Rob La Gatta: How personalized do you ultimately see profiles becoming? Do you see any possibility for a time when bloggers can have a feed for their blog built in, syndicating their latest posts directly to their profile?

Mario Sundar: We currently don’t have plans to offer that functionality.

As a blogger myself, I do link to my 2 blogs on my LinkedIn Profile, and I also try to update my LinkedIn Status with my latest blog post.

Interested in hearing more? Recent LexBlog Q & A posts:

Or, see our full list of legal blog interviews.

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