Way back during #blogeverydayinjune, there was a post from Virtually a Librarian wondering about the point of LinkedIn as a networking tool, particularly when twitter works so well for professional networking. At the time, I was very new to twitter and hadn’t realised it’s full potential to me as a networking tool, or the extent of the personal learning network I would build up via twitter, so was inclined to jump straight in and comment about the various merits and worths of LinkedIn as I saw them at the time.
There were lots of comments to this post, so many that I decided to draft my own post rather than add to the comments. It has, however, taken me some 5 months to move from draft to publish with this one! In that 5 months I have thrown myself wholeheartedly into twitter and was, for a time, inclined to agree with Kate’s assessment. The delay in publishing has worked out well as it turns out, as I have now learned to use LinkedIn in a way that works for me – not so much for my current professional networking but with an eye on the future and the broader workplace context.
Using the principle that, generally, burning bridges is bad, I use LinkedIn to stay in touch with all sorts of people I have met at a professional and otherwise work related level that a) don’t use twitter b) probably don’t want to listen to me rabbit on about LIS on twitter anyway and c) aren’t ‘friends’ of the sort that I would connect with via Facebook. There’s definitely a gap for me between twitter and facebook and LinkedIn seems to fill that adequately.
Working in higher education for example, I have met a lot of interesting and talented sessional teachers working in business, accounting and management. I’d like to keep in touch with some of these contacts after either they or I move on from MPOW but the stuff either side would tweet about on a daily basis is not really of immediate use to either of us. LinkedIn gives us a less invasive (annoying?) way to stay connected. I’m less concerned with collecting ‘friends’ as I am with ensuring I have valuable and valid professional contacts (even if they are for that ‘just in case’ time in the future). Not all of these contacts are working in my chosen field (as opposed to my twitter network which is almost entirely libraryland folk).
Des Walsh left a comment on Kate’s original blog post that highlighted some of this and also pointed out that no profile on LinkedIn is probably better than an out of date profile. If a prospective or potential employer or business partner does check your LinkedIn profile, you want that to be current or relevant.
With this in mind, I do keep my LinkedIn profile up to date.
I also like the ‘leaving recommendations’ function of LinkedIn. A colleague recently facilitated a workshop I was involved in and navigated the group through a difficult series of decisions with what I considered to be consumate skill. I immediately went to write a recommendation on said colleague’s LinkedIn profile – only to find that there wasn’t one! Apparently this person used to have one, but decided that as it was never up to date it was more useful to take it down. In reverse, if someone has left a positive recommendation about me then that surely can’t hurt my prospects with any future employer?