LinkedIn is one of many entries into the online networking market. At first glance, I was skeptical, wondering if this was a thinly veiled dating vehicle for hormonal teens (like some other networking sites to remain unnamed here). After a quick review of the site though, you discover that those dating-type features are absent. In its place is a very simple, easy to navigate system with minimal advertisements.
Instead of posting a photo album of your activities last Friday night, you are asked to provide the details of your education, career, and areas of expertise. The next step is to make connections with the people you already know in real life. The program has the capability to, with your permission, search your Outlook or web-based contact list looking for LinkedIn participants that you already know. Now here’s where it gets interesting: you can see the names and company names of every person connected to your colleagues. If you have been trying to do business with a certain company, but cannot find a way in, this allows you to ask for a warm introduction from someone already on the inside: your colleague.
As is the case with most online networking sites, or for that matter most in-person networking events, you get out of it what you put into it. In other words, if you take the time to create a quality, detailed profile and make an effort to make connections, you will gain more business traction from the site. And if you use the site regularly, your own name and company may rank higher in the results of online searches.
To set up a basic LinkedIn account at no charge, visit www.linkedin.com. To view a sample profile, check out mine here.