I'm curious to learn what your experience has been so far. There have been many posts by Guy and others about how to use this medium effectively. Here are some ways in which I have used LinkedIn:
- To connect with people I know and have done work with over time, especially those who have supported some of the side projects and volunteer activities I engage in -- I have also provided referrals and testimonials
- To learn more about people I have met at networking events -- sometimes there isn't so much time to tell it all and before a follow up lunch or breakfast with someone, I like to learn more about their work and focus so I can be helpful
- To connect with many of the bloggers I have met in recent months -- this is the most fun part as many of us have a blog identity and a LinkedIn identity
- To help contacts connect with someone they are trying to reach through people in my network
- To inform my network in this medium about changes in my professional focus and work -- in the next few months, hopefully I will announce a new job (yes, I am looking for a new opportunity)
These are kind of reactive ways of using the tool. On the proactive side, I have seen it used effectively to broadcast attendance to a conference or meeting to connect with other people who might also attend. More recently, people in my network have used it as a medium through which to ask business questions. For those of you who have: how's that going?
And maybe you can suggest some more ways you have found this tool useful or share about an experience you had in finding business opportunities through LinkedIn.
There are other useful ways, I'm sure. I do wonder about those people who develop huge networks: do they really know everyone? I have many contacts through different professional organization and business networks, probably in the several hundreds. If I look at my Palm, there are more than 1,500 contacts, which I update rigorously as I touch base and ping people. And I also wonder if you ever had to let someone go from your network. I did.
Maybe there are different philosophies or schools of thought on linking. I link to people I know and have met in real life or through ongoing conversations -- over time. I think that there is greater value to my network if all of my connections are known entities. Others are comfortable adding people as they meet them, thus their network grows faster. It sounds a lot like blogging, doesn't it?
If we think of blogrolls as connections, then it's not quite so black and white. Some people do impress us faster than others, perhaps because they connect with our way of thinking and we build on each other's ideas well. And of course, we have better chemistry with some people. Yet blogging is different, or it should be, in that content is shared over time, and we engage in dialogues more often than not. I am very thankful for that: the more I learn about someone, the more helpful I can be to them in finding topics, business, and other contacts.
I suppose the answer should also take into account this question. Is LinkedIn about connections or is it about people?