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How LinkedIn Wants to Unite the Workers of the World

David Kirkpatrick (left) and Jeff Weiner onstage at Techonomy 2014.

David Kirkpatrick (left) and Jeff Weiner onstage at Techonomy 2014

Techonomy CEO David Kirkpatrick credits LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner with planting the seed for the annual Techonomy conference, which wrapped up on Tuesday, Nov. 11, in Half Moon Bay, Calif. He also credits Weiner with building what has become a “central facility for the modern economy.”

Weiner spoke to Kirkpatrick onstage Monday about his vision for the professional online network, which has grown to more than 320 million members and become “the future of connection, compassion, and the corporation.”

Under Weiner’s leadership, LinkedIn has “much more deeply embedded itself in modern business and society” and is “changing the landscape in which we all operate,” Kirkpatrick said. “Everybody in this room goes to LinkedIn multiple times a day to see who they’re about to meet or just met.”

Weiner said LinkedIn’s vision statement, or dream, put on paper 6 years ago, has been to “create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.” Now, with more than half of the world’s 600 million knowledge workers in its network, Weiner said the company is “operationalizing” that vision statement by asking, “What would it take to create economic opportunity for over 3 billion people?”

The answer, he said, is to develop the world’s first economic graph, not unlike a social graph, that will use relationships between individuals as building blocks to digitally map the global economy.

He outlined an ambitious 10-year plan: Weiner said LinkedIn intends to acquire 3 billion individual profiles, 70 million company profiles, a digital representation for each of the world’s estimated 20 million jobs, a digital reflection of every skill required to attain those jobs, and a presence for every higher educational institution in the world that enables people to acquire those skills. He said the platform will make it easy for every individual, company, and university to share the professionally relevant knowledge they would like to, and then step back to let intellectual, working, and human capital to flow to where it can best be leveraged. Doing so, Weiner said, will “lift and transform the global economy.”

While an individual LinkedIn profile once served as resume replacement, Weiner said it has evolved to become more like a portfolio that enables people to demonstrate what they do with video, articles, links, and other assets, as well as a platform for building an audience for a personal brand. In the future he said it would also help people develop skills and grow their careers.

Kirpatrick asked how LinkedIn might be leveraged to help retrain so many Americans who have skills for jobs that are disappearing or no longer exist.

“Before we get to how LinkedIn can help, it’s incumbent on all of us to continue to invest in education, for starters,” Weiner said. “The rate of innovation is exceeding our ability to train people to take advantage of the opportunities being created through that innovation. This is as techonomic as it gets.”

As for how LinkedIn could help, he said the company’s economic graph could make a difference by showing, in any locale in the world, the size of the gap between the existing skills of the aggregate and the skills required to obtain the fastest growing jobs in that same area. “When the size of that gap becomes too large, we can alert training facilities where a gap is emerging and provide them  data to create a just-in-time curriculum to start training people for those jobs,” Weiner said.

To watch video of David Kirkpatrick’s conversation with Jeff Weiner at Techonomy 2014, click here. For a complete archive of Techonomy 2014 session videos, click here

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