Talking Tech Friday – LinkedIn

Happy New Year everyone!  I thought I’d start off 2009 by reviewing a networking tool I’ve  used for years – LinkedIn!

What is it?

LinkedIn is a professional networking site that’s been around since 2003.  Unlike other networking sites, such as MySpace or Facebook, LinkedIn is very career oriented.  Your profile should summarize your educational and professional experience, and your “friends” should be your colleagues and other people in your field. Their about page states that their mission “is to help you be more effective in your daily work and open doors to opportunities using the professional relationships you already have.”

How does it work?

To create your account, you just need to sign up with an email and password.  LinkedIn has a very in depth overview of their services in their Learning Center that gives you tips and walks you through  how to use their services.

The first thing you create is your profile.  Because this is a professional site, you will want to create your profile as if it were a resume.  Post an appropriate picture, list your work and educational experience, your current title, and other interests that you would want your colleagues and peers to know.

A feature I particularly like is the “Show Public Profile” link, which lets you see how your profile looks when viewed by non-LinkedIn members.   I like controlling what information about me is out there on the web.

After creating your profile, you can connect with people you know – like most services, LinkedIn can search your email contacts from a variety of email services, including outlook.  You can also search for individual names or browse by company or university.  You create a network of contacts, rather than a “friends” list, which LinkedIn calls your connections.  As a networking tool, LinkedIn also lists the number of connections your connections have, and most profiles will have a number of degrees of separation – for example, if you are my contact, and you look at one of my other contact’s profiles, there would be the number 2 on their profile indicating that there are 2 degrees of separation.

Another aspect of LinkedIn is getting recommendations from your connections.  They recommend having 3 recommendations as part of your profile – short reference letters, in other words.

LinkedIn is good for networking, and also for job hunting.  They provide a job board which is easy for people to search and add postings to.  You will be notified if there are jobs in your network, which is another reason to make sure your networks reflect your job interests – you won’t necessarily want to connect with all your real-life friends if you want to reap the best benefit of the job tools provided by LinkedIn.

Another interesting feature is the Answers board. Anyone in LinkedIn can post a question and others can answer it.  Because answers are tied to a professional profile, you can have some idea of the authority and legitimacy of the answer.  Answers you provide will be linked to your profile, so you definitely have an incentive to give well-thought out answers, since potential colleagues or employers may view your profile.

LinkedIn has a variety of privacy settings, you can choose how people can contact you, who can see your profile, who can see your contacts, etc.  Including mobile versions and a variety of applications, LinkedIn is really becoming a more important and streamlined way to manage a professional presence online and maintain a useful professional network.

Possible Library Uses

I really think LinkedIn, and similar sites, are changing the way we network and interact with our profession.  I know I would search for a potential hire on LinkedIn to see if they were listed.  I expect many more employers in the future will be using services like this.

Also, LinkedIn is a great job hunting resource to identify to patrons, which I feel will probably be more in demand in these economic times.

Here’s my profile on LinkedIn – if you join, feel free to contact me to be a connection!  I would love to see more librarians, especially local ones, on LinkedIn.  Any of you use LinkedIn? What do you think?



~ by Anali on January 9, 2009.