f you’re not already a member on LinkedIn.com, chances are pretty good that you will be soon. Boasting over 70 million users, LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals. There’s no need to ignore the Farmville invitations from your 16-year-old cousin and no being grossed out by the overly informative status update from your mom’s best friend. It’s all about networking with people in your field.
It works somewhat like Facebook: you add people you know (called ‘connections’ instead of ‘friends’) and are kept updated on their activity on the site, as well as the people that they are connected to. You can connect with friends and family, but you really want to concentrate on colleagues (both current and former), partners, and clients. The key being that you want to connect with people you know and trust. You control what information is available to the public.
So what’s the benefit? LinkedIn profiles consist of job experience, skills, and education. You can upload a resume, and there is a section for listing your professional goals. The people you connect with also have connections, and you are able to ask for an ‘introduction’ through the site. No name dropping required: simply a mutual connection putting two people together. And that connection could lead to a number of things. A promotion, a new job opportunity, or some great advice. In fact, there are forums where you can post a question and get responses from experts in a related field.
And employers do use it. They post jobs openings, and even keep an eye out for potential candidates. You can bookmark jobs you are interested in and revisit them later and even ‘follow’ companies, much like on Twitter to see when new jobs become available or to learn more about them.
If all of that isn’t reason enough to join, there is also a portion on your profile where your connections (colleagues, employers past and even teachers past and present) give you recommendations. Let me tell you, the ego boost is really something.
So-are you a LinkedIn member? And what has it done for you?