Recently I received an email invitation from an old friend and colleague to join the LinkedIn network. This is not the first time I have received such an invitation and I was very tempted to doom it to my spam box – I will tell you why I didn’t.
Also recently, I was at a management meeting with my current employer in which we discussed new trends in the interactive arena. He explained that in our career we must pay close attention to trends not only of an interactive nature, but in every aspect of our daily lives. By keeping your eyes and ears open, you can be well-informed on what’s going on around you – and more importantly, if you want to jump in the wagon. He also expressed that a good rule of thumb to follow is that whenever you see three things in close proximity of each other, you have a very likely candidate that something trendy is happening. Well…I have received, read about, and heard about LinkedIn at least three times – so I’m jumping in.
As skeptical as I am on jumping on any trend-wagon, LinkedIn is different. It peaked my curiosity when I saw the potential it has for a very common – often dreaded – business practice called networking. I’m sure you’ve all experienced it. You’re at some gathering of professionals and at least once during the night you’re approached by that person who hands you their business card, gives you the 2-minute elevator spiel and runs off – without so much as a feigned interest in what you do for a living.
When you join the LinkedIn network, you create your own networking group. You can add to this group by simply inviting colleagues or friends, and through six degrees of separation, you learn about everyone else’s contacts and what they do. All without being intrusive or invading someone’s personal space.
But the buck doesn’t stop there. You can also have your contacts write short reviews about you – a sort of testimonial of who you are and what your capabilities are – and in turn, you can do the same for them. You’re also encouraged to add the various positions you have held professionally – resulting in a pseudo-resume that can quickly give the reader a better idea as to your areas of expertise. And when you take into account a network of several hundred contacts – if not more – you can quickly see how this simple online resource can quickly become one of your most useful word-of-mouth advocates.
So what are you waiting for? Put your web inhibitions aside and get linked.