Who here uses Linked In? What’s the point?

I am curious about the professional social networking site Linked In. If you are a user of have insight into its users, please respond.

Facebook and MySpace, to me, have a fairly obvious utility. Manage socially relevant information in a convenient fashion including photographs, videos, contact information, messaging, etc. Linked In supposes to create similar utility, but while being less, “fun,” more “professional.” So why does anyone use it? Obviously, there are compelling reasons to present yourself in a professional manner on the web via social networking sites, but when you are signed up for Linked In it seems to me that you’re already constricting yourself to a strictly professional intercourse. While a potential employer may gather a good impression of from your Facebook profile with photos of you building houses in New Orleans, it doesn’t strike me as some great coup of professionalism to restrain from posting images of yourself half-naked with a drink in your hand on Linked In. Why would someone in a company or HR care to mine Linked In for potential applicants rather than the web as a whole? For positions where networking is important, it seems to me that your “real” friends will be more important than people you might have met through Linked In. But what do I know; I’m not in the business world and I’m not on Linked In.

So, for people that actually are, how useful is the site and why? How is it better than slapping a resume up on Monster.com? I’d be especially interested to hear from people that work in networking intensive industries or cultures. (Paging msmith537?)

Damn, wrong forum. Can a mod please scoot this over to IMHO?

You raise a great point. I think it actually made sense when the people on linked to were close associates. But it seems to have turned into a joke: "Hey look, I’m linked to 1,200 people. I had an introduction to one guy through email for some work and we set up our initial phone conversation for later in the week. But I immediately got another email asking me to join his linkage. WTF? The guy barely knows me and he wants me in there as a colleague. Seems useless now. Or on it’s way to be.

I’ve just started using it, so I can’t say I’ve seen it scale to ridiculous proportions. I only ask to link to people who I know well enough and whose work I respect, so my contacts list is pretty low. I haven’t had any friend-of-a-nodding-acquaintance try to link with me.

How useful it will all be I don’t know, but it doesn’t do any harm.

Disclaimer: I’m not a LinkedIn power-user or anything, but I am on it. I’ll do my best.

Why does any business professional network?

Yep. That’s the point: I’m not on LinkedIn to socialize, I’m there for business. (That said, I have reconnected with some old schoolmates and co-workers that I had lost track of). I understand that that’s similar to some people’s experience with the other social networking sites, but some of us consider Facebook and MySpace and the like as geared more for younger people (I’m 36).

I don’t understand what you’re saying. Can you rephrase?

I don’t know that HR departments do mine LinkedIn for applicants. But if a person is looking for a new hire, or someone to do contract work, being 1 degree of separation from someone is huge. I can call my friend and get firsthand experience on what it’s like to work with someone.

Yep, they are. But I don’t know everybody that they know. I can see who they know and if there is someone who has a skillset I need, I can get the inside scoop from my friend.

For me, only moderately so, because I haven’t yet asked it to do anything for me, yet.

Depending on your goal, it may not be. But I will say that job boards are like internet dating sites: you see their profile, but you never really know what you’re going to get. Now imagine that kind of site, except you can call your friend to find out if they’re lying in their profile.

I got an invitation from someone for this about a week ago. I didn’t recognize the guy’s name so I deleted it. It only took about two minutes of looking into to realize that I don’t really want to be a part of this social network. I’m not saying there’s a connection, but it reminds me unpleasantly of Amway. YMMV

I found my current job through LinkedIn. It’s just an online manifestation of weak-link networking. If you get the importance of that, you’ll get LinkedIn. If not, you won’t. I will admit however that some people go a bit overboard with the weak-link part of it.

Although people pay lip service to the importance of networking, people are kind of skittish about initiating contact. Most people work with dozens of potential networking contacts with whom they will never initiate, because they are shy, lack confidence, don’t want to communicate the wrong message, or whatever reasons. A weak-connection network like LinkedIn is a powerful way to help circumvent those issues.

People have a bias toward people they know even fleetingly in comparison with someone who is completely unknown. Most people will at least lift a finger to help you if you have a friend or acquaintance in common. The more people you can get to lift fingers, the more access you have to knowledge and opportunities. Also, the searchability is good, I’ve re-established contact with long-lost colleagues from a decade ago. All in all I like it, it’s like MySpace except you don’t have to talk about your favorite band.

No prob. Moving from GQ to IMHO.

Yeah, I’m not really using it much myself, but I see it as a way of keeping track of old associates. When I pass on an offer and the recruiter asks me if I know anyone else, I’ve got a list of people I can actually contact, instead of a stack of outdated business cards in a box in the attic. It’s a way to keep in touch for people who aren’t any good at keeping in touch.

It’s for professional networking, plain and simple. It’s for developing and maintaining professional relationships. For example, I am a web designer, and I have about 30 contacts on LinkedIn. So if one of my contact’s contacts needs some freelance web design done, they might see my name and specialty in their friend’s contacts and ask, “Hey, I see that one of your contacts is a web designer, is she any good?” And my contact – who I have done work for in the past – says, yes, you should give her a call.

Boom, I have a new project.

Also many of my contacts are current or former coworkers, so as we all move on to other jobs, we still keep in touch, and if one of us is looking for another position down the roaed - we can contact our old colleagues for help. Or, if our company is looking for new employees, we can browse our contacts and ask around if anyone knows of someone looking for such a position.

Likewise, let’s say I am looking for a dentist, or CPA, or attorney, or whatever, I can browse through my contacts or my contact’s contacts to find people. It’s much better than just picking up the phone book and randomly picking a name.

There are also network groups on LinkedIn, for example I am a member of an alumni group from my alma mater for the Washington, DC area. Again, I may be more likely to enter into a working relationship with fellow alumni, or with a friend of a friend.

I really think that LinkedIn will prove to be a very useful tool for professional people.

I don’t know how common it is, but I’ve gotten several calls from headhunters who found my info that way. (I don’t have an active profile on any other job-hunting sites and am not actively looking for a job.)

What am I the only person on SDMB with a professional job?
First of all, LinkedIn is different from a job posting site like CareerBuilder. On a job posting site, you aren’t establishing connections with anyone. You are just putting your resume out there for recruiters to find.

LinkedIn is similar to social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook. The difference is that it’s targeted towards professionals where as the other networking sites are more targeted towards socializing.

As for why you would use it, why would anyone use professional networking? To find jobs, develop sales leads, find experts in a particular field. Think of it as your online Rolodex.

Now I know some people who have literally thousands of links. Often they are recruiters or in sales oriented businesses and must sent link requests to everyone they ever met. Personally I don’t think that’s effective as it dilutes the quality of your network. I tend to stick to people I know personally or have worked directly with.

I have used it

  • to find people with obscure technical expertise
  • to connect with people with my same surname from around the globe that are in my same age group (as opposed to my kids’ age group on Facebook or MySpace)
  • when networking for new career opportunities
  • to find out why I might or might not want to work for a particular company

To those that think it is not relevant to link to someone you do not know personally, I would say that I would not have been able to accomplish any of these things based only on people I personally knew.

This is one of the more bizarre things I’ve ever heard on here. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you, but Amway?

Rhubarb is just not a “diamond” user, I guess. :wink:

And unlike my email address book or my paper Rolodex - YOU keep you contact information on Linked In current for me. As does your contact. So, as the network grows and I want msmith’s current email address and “I haven’t talked to him in two years, didn’t he switch jobs, damn I bet I have his old email address” - it isn’t an issue - I go find him on linked in.

Its been a nice tool to get in contact with old professional collegues who go looking for you - and then just touch base.

I’m not a huge fan of social networking sites - there is far too much TMI on facebook/livejournal/my space. I tend to be someone who keeps my circle of “friends” rather small and connected - so keeping track of the social activities of someone I went to college with 20 years ago isn’t that interesting. Nor do I want that someone to keep track of me - that’s just creepy. But the professional activities of someone I worked with, those are useful

I use a profile on there to keep track of old contacts and clients. To second Dangerosa its useful for up to date contacts - if a client asks if I know anyone who can do X I can check the links and get in touch directly.

I’ve got a few clients through it directly, so its also useful that way. Monster.co.uk seems to be mostly agencies.

No, you’re not, but from the OP, I can understand why you feel that way.

To me Linked in is what people should be into, instead of inane sites like Facebook and MySpace, which only get people into trouble. It’s a nice way to get your skills and talents out in front of people who may be looking for what you can do. It’s also a great way to keep in contact with people. At my job, we’ve just gone through a round of downsizing, and through LinkIn, I can stay in touch with those who left.

It’s probably easy to over-emphasize contacts, etc., but they are NOT unimportant. The job I have currently is a job I got through a contact; the one I may go to soon is another. It works.