Product managers at LinkedIn play a critical role in understanding customer needs, defining requirements, and delivering solutions that create value for LinkedIn’s members and customers. This article will provide an overview of the key responsibilities of LinkedIn product managers and the skills required to succeed in this role.
What is a Product Manager?
A product manager is responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for a product or product line. They serve as the voice of the customer and ensure that products meet customer needs.
Key responsibilities of a product manager include:
- Defining product vision and strategy
- Conducting user research and developing customer empathy
- Creating and prioritizing the product roadmap
- Defining product features and requirements
- Working closely with engineering teams during development
- Coordinating go-to-market plans with marketing teams
- Analyzing product metrics and optimizing based on data
Effective product managers have a strong technical aptitude coupled with business acumen and soft skills. They require a diverse skill set to collaborate with various functions, synthesize insights into products, and clearly communicate plans across the organization.
Key Responsibilities of LinkedIn Product Managers
As a large platform with a complex portfolio of products, LinkedIn product managers have diverse responsibilities based on their specific product area. However, some common responsibilities across LinkedIn product management roles include:
Understanding Member and Customer Needs
LinkedIn serves a membership base of over 810 million professionals as well as over 30,000 enterprise customers. Product managers must deeply understand these diverse sets of members and customers to create value for them. This requires synthesizing insights from user research, customer advisory boards, sales teams, customer support channels, and product usage data. Product managers must identify key jobs to be done, pain points, and product gaps across the full member lifecycle.
Defining Product Strategy and Vision
Using insights on member and customer needs, LinkedIn product managers craft a long-term strategic vision for their product areas. This includes analyzing market trends, competitive landscape, and business objectives to define a differentiated product direction. Product managers communicate the vision to executives for alignment and rally their teams around the strategy.
Building and Prioritizing Product Roadmaps
LinkedIn product managers create 18-24 month roadmaps to translate the product strategy into tangible delivery timelines. This involves closely partnering with design, engineering, data science, and marketing teams to define and scope high-value features. Product managers balance business impact, level of effort, and dependencies to determine release priorities. They get buy-in across stakeholders on the integrated product roadmap.
Leading Requirements Development
For every product feature or initiative, LinkedIn product managers lead the requirements development process. This includes working with UX researchers and designers to create user flows and wireframes. Product managers write detailed PRDs (product requirements documents) and manage requirements in tools like Confluence. They work with engineers to ensure technical feasibility and clarity on requirements.
Coordinating Agile Development
LinkedIn product teams follow an Agile software development methodology. Product managers are deeply integrated with their engineering squads throughout the development sprints. They coordinate daily standups, sprint planning, backlog grooming, demos, and retrospectives. Product managers also unblock any issues that arise during the development process.
Analyzing and Reporting on Metrics
Using LinkedIn’s data infrastructure, product managers leverage metrics to evaluate product performance and iterate. Key metrics include engagement, conversion, retention, revenue, NPS scores, and more. Product managers analyze metrics, identify trends, communicate results to stakeholders, and determine required product optimizations.
Product management is a highly collaborative discipline at LinkedIn. Product managers work closely with engineering, design, marketing, sales, legal, data science, and customer support teams to align on strategy and execute products optimally. They also coordinate with other product managers on dependencies and information sharing.
Skills and Attributes for Success
Due to the diverse nature of product management at LinkedIn, certain skills and attributes are essential to thrive in this role:
Having a deep customer empathy and user-centric mindset is crucial. Product managers must represent the voice of the customer and make decisions based on their needs.
Data-driven Critical Thinking
Strong analytical and problem-solving skills are required to synthesize insights, weigh tradeoffs, and identify optimal solutions. Leveraging data to make decisions is key.
A solid technical background with the ability to understand complex systems is important, especially to have meaningful discussions with engineers.
Project Management Skills
Juggling multiple projects and priorities is part of the role. Excellent project management skills like organization, attention to detail, and process thinking enable success.
Leadership and Influence
Product managers need exceptional leadership, communication, and influence skills to rally teams without formal authority. Being persuasive is crucial.
The ability to think strategically, tie products back to business goals, and articulate compelling visions is vital for product managers.
Bias for Action
LinkedIn values speed and agility. Product managers need to make quick decisions with imperfect information and rapidly iterate.
Common LinkedIn Products Managed
Here are some examples of key products that LinkedIn product managers may own:
The LinkedIn Feed includes content from connections, companies, and publishers. The Feed PM defines the content algorithm and new features like polls, events, and stories.
This includes products like LinkedIn messaging, notifications, and InMail. The messaging PM manages improvements to conversational messaging experiences.
LinkedIn’s Group product enables members to connect based on common interests and professional affiliations. The Groups PM drives the platform strategy and community features.
LinkedIn Learning provides over 15,000 online courses for members. The Learning PM determines monetization models, personalized recommendations, and mobile optimization.
LinkedIn’s advertising products enable businesses to reach B2B audiences. The ads PM manages LinkedIn’s auction model, targeting capabilities, and ad formats.
This includes Sales Navigator for identifying prospects and relationship management tools. The sales solutions PM oversees lead generation and sales productivity features.
LinkedIn’s recruitment platform helps companies attract, screen, and hire talent. The talent solutions PM manages products to create a great candidate experience.
Day in the Life of a LinkedIn Product Manager
To understand the types of activities LinkedIn product managers undertake, let’s walk through a sample day:
8 AM – Standup Meeting
The product manager kicks off the day by attending the daily engineering standup meeting. The engineers provide updates on their tasks, blockers, and accomplishments since the last standup.
9 AM – Roadmap Planning
The product manager meets with a product marketing manager to strategize high level roadmap priorities for the next quarter based on input from various stakeholders. They draft themes and initiatives to share with the executive leadership.
10 AM – Requirements Review
Reviewing requirements docs and wireframes for a feature in progress, providing feedback to designers and engineers to ensure alignment.
11 AM – Metrics Review
Analyzing product metrics dashboards and reports to track key trends and performance indicators. Sharing insights with cross functional partners.
12 PM – Lunch Meeting
Meeting up with a user researcher to grab lunch and discuss highlights from recent user studies and ideate on future research plans.
1 PM – Backlog Grooming
Leading backlog grooming session with engineers to priorities and estimate workload for upcoming sprints. Clarifying requirements and dependencies for backlog items.
2 PM – Concept Review
Providing feedback on proposed concepts and flows from UX designer for new feature enhancements. Discussing technical considerations and design iterations.
3 PM – Member Advisory Board
Conducting session with Member Advisory Board members to gather feedback on new product concepts and directions. Capturing qualitative insights from users.
4 PM – Project Kickoff
Kicking off project by aligning cross functional team on goals, timelines, metrics, and success criteria. Establishing regular sync cadence.
5 PM – Company All Hands
Attending weekly all hands meeting with full company to hear company updates from executives.
LinkedIn product managers have a dynamic, cross-functional role focused on creating value for members and customers. They are responsible for determining product vision and strategy, driving roadmaps, defining requirements, and working closely with teams to deliver high-impact products to market. To be successful, LinkedIn PMs need a strong customer orientation, data-driven mindset, technical depth, project management skills, leadership, and strategic thinking. Product managers get exposure to LinkedIn’s full portfolio from Feed to Talent Solutions and Messaging to Sales products. If you’re interested in a fast-paced product management role at massive scale, LinkedIn is a great place to drive impact and grow your skills.