21 June 2008

How to Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a website used for access to people who can help with job searches. The object is to furnish a professional introduction online that will help you to put your best foot forward. LinkedIn is specifically designed for job searches and business connecting. It allows one to manage recommendations, an interactive résumé, and third-party connections.

It's actually fairly well-conceived. After being invited to join, one can accept and create a profile for oneself. The profile includes an online resume (you can select what is visible to whom); and a listing of your contacts. You can search for people you remember the names of, or you can look up the listings of members by employer, city, and industry. If they aren't already registered, you can invite them to join; actually editing their own page may occur much later.

LinkedIn follows a pattern that is becoming very standardized with sites such as YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook. Members have the option of carefully formatting their page and uploading content, but are under no obligation to do so. Registering allows one to access the content of invites or organize links to favorites (e.g., photos on Flickr, videos on YouTube). Amazon is moving towards full-fledged social networking, with the profile pages that link to friends or "interesting people" (meaning, you can link to them unilaterally). For years I've been posting reviews; now I can really go nuts with lists of books, and so on. I can also link to different social networking sites, including, naturally, this weblog.

Another fairly important feature of social web sites is that many can be linked together through iGoogle. The obvious example is the link between Digg and Facebook; when you Digg an article, a link to it appears in your Facebook minifeed (explained here).

Unfortunately, this doesn't really eliminate the business of contacting employers with customized cover letters that must arouse interest without aggravating. I find that sort of thing utterly dispiriting.

Guy Kawasaki, "Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn" How to Change the World (Jan 2007). Kawasaki makes several unsupported claims, and I'm not interested in trying to defend them. He mentions that one can use LinkedIn to increase one's Google page rank. This is especially effective, he argues, because the page ranking of LinkedIn is itself quite high.

Another point he makes is that "People with more than twenty connections are thirty-four times more likely to be approached with a job opportunity than people with less than five." This seems implausible to me; and there's no source for this claim. "Approached with a job opportunity" can include unwelcome spam to join an MLM, anyway.

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