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LinkedIn Launches Sponsored Discussion Board for Women

LinkedIn is one of those sites that I should use more than I do. It’s loaded with information relevant to folks in all sorts of businesses and it’s certainly the best place to network within an industry.

This past week, LinkedIn got my attention when they launched the Professional Women’s Network, Powered by Citi. That last part if very important and very obvious when you hit the landing page.

Citi is in the financial services business and they know that women make more than 80% of the financial decisions in a household. That’s why they also run a website called Women & Co. which features lifestyle articles and advice about everything even remotely money related. The main difference is that Women & Co. is very family oriented as opposed to the new LinkedIn group which is all about work.

The Professional Women’s Network, Powered by Citi launched on April 30 and now has over 6,000 members. A large number of members are in marketing or journalism. New topics and comments are rolling in faster than tumbleweeds taking over a ghost town. But then, that’s always the pattern when a community is new and excited, isn’t it? The real test will be two months from now? Will the tumbleweeds have tumbled on. . . .?

What’s really interesting to me, is that quite a few of the topics currently on the front page are about women trying to start new careers late in life, start businesses, deal with unemployment and even bullying in the work place. I suspect that if we started a similar group for men, we wouldn’t see any of these kinds of posts. (Just an observation. . . )

All of this brings me to the main reason I don’t use LinkedIn on a regular basis. It’s messy. My new favorite word.  The landing page for the group features the usual header with more tabs and options than I could ever click.

After that, we have a full page of discussions and comments which can be sorted two ways. The sidebar includes 3 ads for Citi, a poll sponsored by Citi, Manager’s Choice, Updates, LinkedIn Today banner, Top Influencers, and Group Stats. Yowza. Who has time for all of that except unemployed people?

I’m sure there’s good information here but lighten up! None of this is Citi’s fault. They’ve built a relevant community that is designed to reach new customers. As long as they allow the community to grown normally and refrain from advertising their own wares at every turn, it will be a positive thing. I just wish LinkedIn would find a better way to present all of this material. This isn’t playtime at Facebook, it’s a network of people who wake up every day anxious to get things done.

What are your thoughts on LinkedIn and sponsored communities?