As of recent, LinkedIn has been trying to remove inherent bias and maximize the number of economic opportunities available on the platform. In line with this, LinkedIn has recently updated their recommendation algorithm, which controls their ‘People You May Know’ feature. This was done in order to ensure that users’ birthplaces, hometowns, schools, or current jobs don't impact the way they build their professional networks.
LinkedIn’s ‘People You May Know’ feature has played a big role in building users’ networks and guiding their connections. As such, LinkedIn has decided to address the number of user types that tend to dominate the algorithm.
According to LinkedIn:
"PYMK primarily uses data like the Economic Graph and platform interactions to mine features and use ML algorithms to come up with relevant recommendations. However, like any AI system, a significant challenge for the accuracy of this system is controlling for external sociological factors, like a member’s general visibility off-platform or the tendency for technologies (such as professional social networks or the internet) to be adopted gradually. This can lead to situations where AI-powered products can reflect an existing bias towards some groups of people over others."
To give an example, LinkedIn’s process results in more high-profile users appearing more often within connection recommendations, this happens due to the LinkedIn system using platform interactions as a proxy for people that others may want to connect with.
However, this can greatly disadvantage those with less visibility:
"There are a subset of members on LinkedIn who receive a large number of connection requests, e.g., an influencer in an industry, a high-profile senior executive, or a recruiter from a big company. At a high level, having a disproportionate number of connection requests may appear to simply run counter to our stated goal of closing the network gap. However, it can also lead to the member’s network becoming overrun with feed updates and notifications that may seem random or from members who are only tangentially relevant to their own career."
A problem with the previous algorithm is that connections on the platform tend to become key connectors to a number of different opportunities that you can only come across on the platform. As such, in order to maximize networking potential, it is extremely important that LinkedIn highlights and allows for a wider spectrum of connection recommendations within the platform.
In the recent update, LinkedIn has addressed this problem and with their new and improved system, they are now looking to find a better balance to their connection recommendation feature, hopefully allowing people with few connection requests to find themselves with much more exposure and reach.
Through the most recent update, numerous people are now receiving more connections than they used to, allowing them to grow their networks and seize more opportunities on the platform.
While the update is fairly small and won’t really affect your day-to-day LinkedIn usage, the update has shown that less connection requests have gone to people that are normally overloaded with them. Moreover, the new update has also resulted in a number of less popular users seeing a boost in the number of requests.
Looking at things at a small scale, the new update probably won't have a very big impact, but it could definitely greatly impact the platform in the long run. Significant connection can boost your presence and get you in front of the right users. With the right connections, LinkedIn users can get their profile from invisible with virtually no opportunities, to very visible with opportunities appearing left and right, allowing people to find and create even more valuable business connections.
As previously noted, this new LinkedIn update is part of LinkedIn’s vision to give people equal opportunities while allowing them to find and make professional connections, without their personal background affecting their chances. As a matter of fact, this effort is being led by LinkedIn’s former CEO, Jeff Weiner, who stepped down from the role last year in order to concentrate on "creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce".
Jeff Weiner is definitely someone to look up to, and it's amazing how dedicated he is to his goal. Moreover, his goal is something that we can say is definitely important to LinkedIn, as it very clearly plays a big role in facilitating and managing professional connections. LinkedIn’s influence in the current professional scene is definitely nothing to scoff at, and the new data and tools it is working on are definitely something to watch.
The updated algorithm may seem insignificant, but it is definitely an important step as LinkedIn looks to grow.