In a discussion at work this week, we agreed that no one knows how to use LinkedIn – even LinkedIn. Is it for people to connect with other professionals? For companies to post jobs? For people to join and post to groups? I just realized today that posts to groups now have a “Like” button. I’ve referred to it as “Facebook for professionals, minus the pictures”, but I didn’t realize it had gone that far.
All joking aside, I do find LinkedIn useful.
It’s a great place to keep my online resume and list of professional accomplishments. It’s been useful to track my progress from a help desk tech and report writer to a consultant. People can find out in one spot that I also work with user groups and Tech on Tap. While I’ve had plenty of recruiters try to contact me, I’ve also had other database professionals in my area contact me about something community-related, or a potential job opening.
It lets me keep in touch with former coworkers or people I meet at a conference that I might not want to share personal information with. I may have lost someone’s business card, but remember their name – I try to look them up on LinkedIn. People can see what I’m doing professionally, without the personal details like they would have on Facebook. It’s a great networking tool.
I can find people in a specific area, like the Fox Valley, that work with SQL Server. This has been most useful in recruiting people to either attend, speak at, or sponsor user groups or SQL Saturdays.
The groups are useful for communication about various interests, like user groups and Tech On Tap. I can post the information about a monthly meeting and have people see it. They can ask questions and let me know if they’ll be there. It lets me find more people interested in the same groups I am.
So, while LinkedIn may still be struggling to find its identity, I’ve found a few solid uses for it.
On a related note, next Tuesday, February 21, and next Wednesday, February 22, I’ll be presenting “Make Your Voice Heard” for user groups. One of the tools I cover is LinkedIn, along with Twitter, forums, and blogging. Please try to attend one of these, in person or virtually, to learn more!