LinkedIn – Are You FeelIn’ It?

May 7, 2009 at 1:06 pm 5 comments

Confession: I don’t use LinkedIn well or often. Frankly, when I got on it just felt too “stuffy”, and I still get that sense.

While Twitter and Facebook feel lively and energetic (the interface, the way the tool works, the way people interact), LinkedIn feels like one of those sterile networking events where people are trying to make contacts but there’s no actual engagement or conversation

LinkedIn smurfs

(If only Linkedin were as interesting as this "LinkedIn smurfs" photo by 99zeros

I like the “Introductions” concept.  If you’re looking to make contact with a particular person and you discover that he/she is only separated by a degree or two, it makes sense to try to connect .  Of course, in that case, I’d simply find out who to contact using Linkedin – and then Google to find the person’s email.  I could then shoot them an email, mentioning our mutual connection – without going through Linkedin’s own (unlovable) messaging system…

Other than that, I haven’t found much on Linkedin that you couldn’t do in a more personal and engaging way on another site (mainly Twitter or Facebook).

But, because I don’t like something, doesn’t necessarily make it irrelevant.  (I wish! Physical Sciences seem to have stuck around, regardless.  Go figure.)

Many find LinkedIn extremely useful.  I have a friend who swears by the site. It’s been invaluable for him in terms of  making connections.  And while I relish the ability to be casual and “myself” online, I recognize some don’t believe business and personal should mix as much as most social sites encourage/accept.  Especially if you find Facebook to be too personal (“Who cares what interpretive dance performance my acquaintance is going to…?” ), LinkedIn can be an especially appealing social networking tool.

So, in the interest of fairness, let’s look at what LinkedIn can actually do.

It gives you the ability to (among other things):

  • see who your contacts and friends are connected to in a business sense (e.g. who do they know well and have worked with).
  • research people/companies (“What’s that person like to work with? Should/could I work with them? Looks like some people I know have worked with her – I’ll ask them.”)
  • request and receive public recommendations (that never hurts)
  • mention what you are up to (using the “status”/”what are you working on?” update.)
  • ask for advice from the Linkedin populace as a whole, or from your friends.
  • request a contact make an introduction to someone in their connections with whom you’d like to establish contact.

Recently Linkedin has been making strides to make the platform more appetizing, adding SlideShare and blog post integration (and other applications) as well as “Groups

And my problem with the site “not being fun”, is in a sense, missing the point.  It’s likely not supposed to be.

As Bernard Lunn writes on RedWriteWeb:

“We want to spend as little time as possible so that we can get the job done, get off our computers, and have a life. LinkedIn is the most efficient place to hunt for customers and employees. It is the first real change in productivity for those who work on the front lines of business.”

LinkedIn also has an “Events” feature – and you certainly can see (and be apprised of) the events your friends are attending – but there’s more.  It trumps the usual events features by offering:

“…recommendations based on the contents of your profile” in your newsfeed. (Marshall Kirkpatrick on Mashable.)

And in How to Get the Most Out of LinkedIn by Brian Wallace remarks that:

“The old adage that “it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know” still holds value. LinkedIn takes this thought one step further, making it “who you will know soon to be of utmost importance.” Using LinkedIn, I’ve trained small businesses to spread their wings and get connected with companies that they might otherwise have thought were beyond reach, and to the persons they were looking for in those companies.”

Indeed, it is often more efficient (and more exact) to search for contacts at a company using Linkedin then to use the “About the Team” page (assuming they even have one) on their website.

Further, LinkedIn lets you know where your connections are now – even if you’ve lost touch or are out-of-the-loop: once you upload your address book, it checks to see who’s on board and you could reconnect with people for whom you have outdated emails:

“I had old emails for people who had changed jobs; LinkedIn automatically showed me where they work now (I assume based on email forwarding).” (Bernard Lunn on RedWriteWeb)

So, clearly, some people are getting value out of LinkedIn.  Are you?
____

Stay tuned: in the next post, I’ll be looking at Linkedin for NonProfits. Update: Well, no, I won’t.  It’s just off the priority list right now – but I did find a great “A Visual Guide To LinkedIn For Job Hunters” and since I feel that networking is a bit like Job Hunting, it’s appropriate. Or maybe it isn’t and I just love the tips and visuals in it. Your call.

Entry filed under: job search, Linkedin, marketing - general, Social Marketing, social media. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. strom  |  May 8, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Monica, these are all good points. A lot of people update their LinkedIn contacts just prior to leaving their present employer, so it is a good place to see when people are about to make a transition. And I have found that researching people for specific interests or positions or companies is one of the best features. I have a slidedeck that talks about ways that you can improve your LinkedIn profile here:
    http://slideshare.net/davidstrom

    David Strom

    Reply
  • 2. Jonathon Narvey  |  May 8, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    I use LinkedIn a lot these days.

    One benefit I’ve found is the ability to paste in identical news and information to appropriate Group discussion boards without getting banned as a spammer (which can happen very quickly on Facebook).

    Moderators can still take down stuff if it’s inappropriate, and presumably I would get banned from groups if I was actually spamming irrelevant material everywhere. These are good features.

    This way, I’m not getting automatically taken down by the software for promoting business info on a business site.

    Reply
  • 3. monicahamburg  |  May 8, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Thanks, David! That’s very interesting point re timing of people updating their profile. It makes sense – but had never occurred to me.

    And I appreciate the link to the Slideshare presentation. Very useful tips. Bookmarked.

    Reply
  • 4. monicahamburg  |  May 8, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Jonathon: Re: groups – that’s good to know. Re: Your last line: – Classic. And hilarious.

    Reply
  • 5. Glenn Hilton  |  May 29, 2009 at 7:21 am

    Sterile is a good word Monica. I’ve been ignoring Linkedin while I hung out with my more vivacious friends (Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook & Blip.fm), however recently I’ve started to take more interest in Linkedin again. I think the main reason is their groups. I’m meeting some good people thru them and have been getting great value from the daily digests from interesting groups I’ve joined. I’ve also found it one of the best tools for finding new talent to hire. So ya I’m not going to dis it anymore. Because even uptight friends can be helpful sometimes.🙂

    Reply

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