Opportunities for connecting on the internet abound. There’s Digg, Fark, del.ici.ous, Stumbleupon, and on and on and on. Unless you do social networking for a living, it’s almost impossible to keep up with them all (in addition to your six email accounts). The possibility of getting burnt out by information overload is very real, so I keep my online activities down to there main ones: Facebook, which I use to set up groups and events on behalf of my clients, but I also use personally to keep in touch with family and friends, Twitter, which I use mainly for sharing information, and LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has been around for a while, and is, essentially, online social networking for business. When you sign up, you can create a profile page for your business, which includes your areas of specialty, and links to your website. You can put information up about your past work experience and education. My profile also includes my blog feed and which business books I am currently reading or want to read. Pretty standard stuff, so far. But here’s where it gets cool. You create contacts with people that you know directly or have done business with online. By connecting with others, you get access to thier networks, and thier network’s networks, etc. etc. I currently have 46 connections on my LinkedIn, which gives me a total of 233,800 connections in total. It’s six degrees of separation gone viral.
You can also join groups of like-minded individuals, post questions (or answer them to prove your ‘expert’ status), and get recommendations for your work, which become public for the whole world to see. There is also a place to post jobs, and I have heard that people searching for work have often been quite successful by using LinkedIn.
Catherine Lough Haggquist, who owns Biz Books, is a dear friend of mine, and a highly-respected businessperson, says “I find the “groups” function to be the most developed, focused and subscribed to of any of the SNs I belong to…and I am at about 10 right now. As my professional pursuits are varied but related, LinkedIn is a handy way, through it’s emails from the groups that I belong to, to stay up on news and useful discussions and blog posts that I can incorporate into my different business plans and strategies. Also, the “status” function is very handy for getting the word out.”
And if you are already on LinkedIn, or if you join, look me up.