What’s the point of LinkedIn?

June 27th, 2012

It seems that once a year I have a bit of a go at working out what LinkedIn is for. I joined it years ago and I think it is fair to say that I’ve not mananged to achieve anything through being a member of it.

I can see a great deal of potential in having a social network that has a professional focus, but I’m not convinced LinkedIn is that platform. I have a lot of things to say that probably aren’t appropriate to my personal blog.

This has got to be down to one of two reasons. It is either because I’m doing it wrong or it is because it doesn’t work. Hopefully it is the first one.

I’d really like other people to tell me how they use LinkedIn and how I can try and get something out of it. I think it is telling that I’m asking this here rather than on LinkedIn itself as I’m not convinced of its reach.

I think I’ve got a fairly good handle on how social networks work. I use Twitter as my primary form of communication and have found that professionally it’s a useful tool for joining people together. I even have an attachment to Facebook, at least as a place for quickly storing links and keeping an eye on people that don’t use Twitter.

The critical success factor for networks, from my point of view, is whether they are carrying sufficient content and interest for me to invest my time in. My typical experience of LinkedIn content is people that have connected their Twitter account to their status or it is truly speculative employment agencies spamming inappropriate jobs.

This has made me wonder what everyone else expects to get out of it as I can’t see too many examples of conversation (obviously this could be peculiar to the way I use it).

Cynically I can see LinkedIn use falls into one of two categories, a naive hope that someone will be knocked over by your profile and have to bring you into their organisation or a voyeuristic interest in whether people you used to work with have still got jobs.

In their own way both of these are valid but they do not perform the function of a network. In reality this prompts people to treat LinkedIn as not much more than a grown up version of Pokemon.

I’ve always had a few self created rules about how I’ve treated different social networks. On Twitter I follow anyone that is interesting, I’m only Facebook friends with people I’ve met, Google Plus I add anyone but only to specific circles and LinkedIn only people who I have worked with.

I think I’m going to change my approach on Linkedin to include people who seem interesting to see if a similar approach, as I use with Twitter, makes it anymore functional.

There you go, I’m really interested in your tips or experience. I suspect that many responses are just going to be a mutual confusion but hope this isn’t the case.


Posted in Misc | Comments (10)

10 Responses to “What’s the point of LinkedIn?”

  1. Lorna Says:

    I do quite a few networking events and I find it really useful for making a permanent connection with people I’ve met at functions. I usually return to my desk after an event armed with a little bundle of cards and see how many I can find. If they’re on LinkedIn I send them a little note saying “nice to meet you at such-and-such…enjoyed our conversation about blah blah and thought it would be useful to connect here..” (or whatever). From that moment on, if they keep their profile up to date, I’m able to see if they ever move company or if their job title changes. Or I can see any updates that they post on there. And, if I happen to notice they are connected to someone I would like to connect with, I can ask them to introduce me (this is the only exception to my rule about only linking in with people I’ve met in real life). Connecting with them after an event makes it much more likely that I will remember their face and name should our paths cross again

    For me, LinkedIn is strictly business and I find it very useful. I don’t use it as a tool to push my own career per se, but I do use it in a way that helps my profile grow, and in turn, win more for the company I work for.

  2. Daz Says:

    I think I have used it similarly. I like to add people I meet, and I’ve built a little collection, but I don’t seem to ever say anything to them after that. That obviously sounds quite rude of me but having spent a bit of time looking through connection profiles today I can’t see many people talking to each other either.

  3. Lorna Says:

    I know what you mean but I think people are outwardly less vocal on LinkedIn. I am. I don’t allow my connections to see new connections – mainly because some of my existing connections are direct competitors and I don’t want them to know which potential new clients I’m talking to. It’s a business tool after all.

    Ooh. I forgot to mention groups. People keep telling me groups are useful, but if I’m honest, I find them a bit of a drag. But there are more conversations taking place within them so if that’s what you feel it’s missing, trying joining more groups.

  4. Daz Says:

    Actually I did muck about with groups when I went through this last year. I think there was potential there but I did quickly create a Gmail filter to send all messages from groups into their own little world.

  5. Vicki Says:

    I have exactly the same experience as you Daz, and I operate my social media by your self-created rules although have never managed to work out Google Plus, although my life does not seem to lack anything because of that. I am in the States at the moment and Linked In is predominantly used here. , For networking and recruitment from what I have seen. Twitter less so and hash tags not at all, I find hash tags one of the most useful and interesting aspects of Twitter. My sister uses Linked In here for most things, so I will share your blog on Facebook, so she can maybe show us what we are missing

  6. FionaC Says:

    1. I use it as an online CV that is easy to link to and has testimonials.

    2. I get feeds from various groups related to my work. They tend to be quite a chatty community so it can be good to share links or answer queries.

    3. If a stranger wants to connect with me and they are seniors in my field I accept the invitation but send an email to ask about work opps.

    4. Twice I’ve had work offers but twice they came to nothing. The new Linkedin job alerts look good though.

    Basically I find it good for a very limited number of things and not easy to converse.

  7. Kate Says:

    Daz, I am Vicki’s sister and live in the US so I will give the US perspective as she and I talked about it while she was here. LinkedIn is used extremely widely here, in many of the same ways as I think you guys in the UK use Twitter. Twitter is not really used here for corporate / business connections, here it is more for following influential people and celebrities, hearing about special offers, and notifications of where the food truck is going to be that day.

    I use Linked In multiple times a day, as Lorna said it is a replacement for a Rolodex – instead of giving business cards to people you meet in the non-virtual world, you link with them on LinkedIn. “Nice to meet you let’s stay connected etc etc”. The other thing I routinely do is link with people who are doing things I am interested in. I trawl around and search on various topics, find someone interesting and then drop them a note saying “I see you are working on “x” I would love to chat with you”. I’ll connect, exchange a few hellos and then often meet for a networking coffee.

    Of course job-hunting and career management is a massive aspect of LinkedIn too. Many US companies are moving toward allowing you to apply with your LinkedIn profile instead of a CV, with the advantage of being able to include examples of work, recommendations, portfolios etc. So if you are job-hunting here, or hoping to be head-hunted a well done LinkedIn profile is essential.

    The area it is abused is spamming – there are many discussion groups – mostly filled with people trying to sell you their services that buries any meaningful discussion. I only join groups because it makes connecting with people more easily – I rarely ever get involved in discussions.

    So that’s the long answer – I think if you are in the UK and want to connect with people in the US LinkedIn is an essential tool. But if you are mainly interacting with UK people it’s not as important because you are using Twitter to fulfill that need.

  8. Ed Says:

    Yep I agree. What’s the point of having all these connections on Linked In

    I appreciate what Kate says. But >> I’ll connect, exchange a few hellos and then often meet for a networking coffee.

    er and then what? I guess it depends on the type of business you’re in…

    I joined linked in years ago and left the account dormant. Now i’m promoting a new product and was told “get on LI… ” But why? Groups seem … umm failry dormant. And I sense that any promoting – even for a highly relevant product – has to be very oblique. The only benefit i see is the ability to reach key decision makers. But this requires InMail – which I have to pay £18 / month to send 3… THREE !


    Well let’s see if it’s worth it. I sent one aleady and will e interested to see how the “guaranteed reply” works out

    Daz. It’s always good to ask an supposedly dumb question. It usually inspires surprising answers. Well done mate

    cheers ed

  9. Joe Guiney Says:

    I was hoping I was going to learn what the hell LinkedIn is and what’s the point, but no luck. Why do I get ALL KINDS of email from people I’ve never heard of trying to get me to “link up” or whatever the hell you do on LinkedIn. And when I read these comments from people explaining what they “use” it for–well all I can say is I’m utterly mystified as to the purpose of the existence of LI. It’s like junk mail that doesn’t even have anything to sell.

  10. Skweekah Says:

    How about the people who have 500 connections and have only ever had the one job which involves no networking or leaving the office for that matter. I find it all a bit facebook-ish in that people are hung up on how many connections they have. I mean, some people have hundreds of facebook “friends” but most only ever socialise with 2 or 3 of these. I think that LinkedIn is kinda the same.

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