Linked out

I am a member of LinkedIn, a networking site with a distinctive business flair, as opposed to Friendster and Nokut/kornut/Orkut, which are more oriented towards socializing and dating.
LinkedIn is interesting because you discover people you once knew (former students/fellow students/colleagues/clients/acquiantances) and it enables you to find people you need to talk to. But there is a bit of a disconnect – getting invitations from people whom you have no idea who are and whom you have never met, but who wants to link up with you.
I am not sure how to deal with that – my instinct is not to let anyone into my LinkedIn network that I don’t know. I currently have 191 connections, which is semi-high (at least in Norway). Since I have lived and worked abroad and had a lot of students over the years, and live in the field of IT and consulting (which is full of people who use computer and who connect) it is probably normal. I have not resorted to spinning through my email adresses to bulk email people for connections, but I have searched former and current places of work.
The interesting thing, of course, is that LinkedIn really isn’t a social network, but a network of potential business and professional contacts. I still think you should know the people you connect to, at least know who they are and when you met them, but the threshold is much lower than for a normal social relationship.
This article by Lnace Ulanoff in PC Magazine expresses his frustration with LinkedIn – but this very long comment in the discussion really puts it right, methinks. LinkedIn is a tool for connection junkies. And that is all it is. It may be useful, it may be useless, but if you want to find people or be found by them, it is one tool among many.
Just as long as you are allowed to decline invitations and reject forwarding of really opportunistic messages to someone who wouldn’t read them if it wasn’t for them coming through you…..

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One thought on “Linked out

  1. Konstantin Guericke

    While some connection junkies (as you call them) have discovered LinkedIn and are quite vocal about how they use LinkedIn, most of our 3.3 million users are regular business people who have no time for or interest in connecting with strangers.
    Some use LinkedIn on a daily basis for their job (e.g. recruiters, people doing hihg-value information research), some use it occasionally (looking up people before they meet them, find a recommended service provider, find an inside connection with an interesting business partner) and some use it just because they enjoy re-connecting with old colleagues, staying up-to-date and stregthen existing relationships. Clearly, some want to have a sort of “professional shingle,” so that opportunities can find them. And many good opportunities come from the people your contacts know.
    You may use LinkedIn in whichever way you choose as long as you abide by the user agreement and respect the rights of other users, but my personal recommendation is to have a clear purpose and stick to strong connections–I think that creates a far better user experience than connecting with people you don’t really know and then being expected to introduce them to your contacts.
    -Konstantin
    http://www.linkedin.com/p/kguericke

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