Reid Hoffman Interviewed by Keith Ferrazzi on The Art of the Pivot

July 20 2012

Reid was recently interviewed by Keith Ferrazzi, author of two notable books on relationships, Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back?

Keith asked Reid about pivoting as the entrepreneur of your own career:

“What do you think is more difficult in the pivoting process: Changing the nature of who you are, whether it’s a company or yourself, or changing the perception others have of who you used to be?”

Reid’s response, emphasis added: (You can also listen to the MP3 or read the PDF transcript of the entire interview).

Well, as you very well know, both are quite hard, and so it’s kind of a choice between hard facet number one and hard facet number two. I think that the key thing in both the substance of the reinvention and also the brand promise, and how people perceive you, is…. It just takes time. 

“One of the things I sketched out very early days in LinkedIn was never have a bad experience. Try to minimize the bad experiences and then build up more and more positive experiences over time. So for example, there’s many users at LinkedIn that go, ‘Look, I think that it’s valuable for when I’m going to go look for a job, and so I leave it there for then and I don’t really use it very much on a day-to-day basis.’ And that’s because we focused on growth first, and then a baseline for revenue for outbound professionals or for people when they were looking for a job. Now we’re saying, ‘Okay, well, now here’s the set of features that could be useful to you on a daily basis.’

We essentially have the ability to win people’s trust as we do this because we worked really hard to make sure they never had negative experiences in getting to this point…. And now we’re essentially saying, ‘Well, here’s some great things for you.’… We’re building those up in order to cause people to re-engage over time. 

“I think the same thing is true for individuals in their careers, because the notion maybe is like, ‘Look, I spent 10 to 20 years focused on building my career, being an executive, making this go, building my own business, and now I want to add in other things to it.’ It’s like, all right, that’s just like any other product or any other company. You need to begin to layer those things in over time, in terms of relationships that you build, in terms of the activities that you do, in terms of the projects that you succeed in. I think it’s the same challenge.”

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