Rule number one for any database: it goes bad over time


And at its core, LinkedIn is a database

Today’s post starts in the old paper catalog days, ventures more into the email database realm, but come back to LinkedIn, so stick with me for a couple minutes. 

My first job in high tech sales was selling the company’s low end products – those under $1200 – to catalog companies. This was 1985, and there were maybe twenty big ones specializing in datacom and telecom products. I would typically be allotted a quarter, a third or half a page for a photo of the product and the accompanying copy. 

I learned a lot about the catalog business (these were my customers after all) and one of the basic principles was that their mail lists “went bad” at the rate of two percent every month. Every month two percent of the people on the mail list would change companies, jobs or addresses so that a catalog was undeliverable. If a catalog company had a hundred thousand people on their mail list, that’s two thousand people that disappeared every month, and sending two thousand catalogs out that were not going to generate any revenue was something these companies wanted to avoid. 

So imagine my surprise when I was reading a post on Hubspot’s blog and they said statistics show that 22.5% of email databases go bad every year. Things haven’t changed much in 35 years!

So what does this have to do with LinkedIn? Just this: 

LinkedIn is a database that updates itself.

When someone changes jobs, one of the first things they do is change their LinkedIn profile (if this wasn’t the case you wouldn’t see recruiters paying eight thousand a year for access to LinkedIn). 

This is one of the great things I love about LinkedIn as a database. It is the most up to date one there is. This is the jumping off point for all my searches.