Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I have been rummaging around in LinkedIn which is described by Wikipedia as a "business oriented social networking site, mainly used for professional networking. As of January 2007, it had more than 9 million registered users, spanning 150 industries and more than 400 economic regions (as classified by the service)."

I had forgotten I had a profile on LinkedIn which I set up ages ago, when Cindy Cunningham, the Director of Media Cataloging at Corbis in Seattle, invited me to join her network. After I'd joined I did nothing with my network. Recently, though, LinkedIn showed up on my radar.

My husband who is job hunting joined and is enjoying finding and connecting with people he'd worked with in a couple of past jobs.

And Stephen Aquilar-Millan, a UK-based futurist whom I know, had mentioned on the listserv we both belong to, that he had recently joined LinkedIn and was viewing it as an extension of his corporeal network for now, but that "[e]ventually, we will have to start to develop content within the network. It's at this point that the system will be truly tested as it will show whether we have connections because people are being polite, or we have connections because people think that we are doing something useful. That's always a moment of truth!"

I've been building my network, looking for and inviting people I know to join. A few have commented that they don't really use LinkedIn and don't find it very useful at the moment. Certainly one of the reasons for this is that few of us are job hunting as most of the people in my network have salaried, on-going positions. Stephen the futurist, however, has a consulting business and so might find this sort of very defined social network more immediately relevant to him.

I do find the "three degrees of separation" fascinating and perhaps this is one motivator for me to participate. For example, I spotted the name of a well-known libraryland person--someone I know personally too--who is connected to me, not through any other libraryland person, but through one of the futurists in my network. I had no idea they knew one another! Although "knowing" a person in LinkedIn can mean something much more tenuous than meatspace "knowing", the ability to identify and make visible these tenuous relationships in a virtual community is one of the most interesting aspects of it all, to me.

Recently, Guy Kawasaki, entrepreneur, blogger and self-professed hockey addict, blogged "Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn." He wrote: "However, it is a tool that is under-utilized, so I’ve compiled a top-ten list of ways to increase the value of LinkedIn."

Another top ten list! Which actually includes 13 points. And it struck me, reading his list, that librarians working in corporate libraries might find LinkedIn a good source of competitive intelligence, as well as a place to showcase their research and reference skills.

LinkedIn has recently started a service called LinkedIn Answers in which questions from within a member's broader network (people you know, know these people, who know these people) can be answered or experts' names suggested. For example, there's a question from my network asking for help in finding information on world stock market growth in 2006. 14 people so far have provided what look like good links or answers. So, Stephen Abram, Mr President-Elect of SLA, perhaps this is one way to increase the visibility of the members of your association?

Any IAG readers who are also members of LinkedIn, send Alice and me invitations to join your network! And if you've opinions on the usefulness--or not--of this kind of social network, leave a comment.


walt c said...

Having just accepted your invitation... I joined at the invitation of a now-former colleague, who indicated that she'd gotten three promising job interviews via LinkedIn. Even after my experience with Orkut (sorry, but I really don't want to join an Eastern European fangirl group), I thought it worth a try. So far, mostly watching...and wondering about the occasional truly obscure invitation (a "classmate" at UC Berkeley, three years after my time? That narrows it down to 75,000 of my closest friends).

Anonymous said...

Thanks Alane. I have been on LinkedIn for over a year and would be happy to connect to any SLA member. You and I are already linked. I'll decloak this month for my IM, Second Life, MySace and Facebook identities. Let the innovation begin!



walt c said...

Addendum: I should note that I'm not currently jobseeking, but my friend's experience (a while back) was interesting. (Should have said that up front.)

Anonymous said...

Good read, Thanks!

Steven Burda, MBA