Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How useful is LinkedIn?

Now that I know I am going to be looking for a new job in a couple of months, my thoughts have turned to what online tools I can use to market myself and increase my chances of getting a job. A number of people have recommended LinkedIn to me, and I have had a profile there for some time. But in view of my new circumstances, I thought it was time to look at LinkedIn more closely.

LinkedIn is a social networking site very similar to sites like Facebook, Bebo and MySpace. The difference is that it is supposed to be a site for professionals, used for linking people together in the work context. It works on a '6 degrees of separation' principle ie someone will know someone who will know someone who can help you, or give you a job.

Making the most of LinkedIn
The idea of LinkedIn is that you're more likely to get a job through the power of the connections you have. According to Guy Kawasaki in his post How to change the world: 10 ways to use LinkedIn, if you have more than 20 connections, you are 34 times more likely to get a job or make a valuable business deal than if you have less than five connections. Guy goes on to give ten tips for using LinkedIn which include:
  • making your LinkedIn profile public which will improve your Google ratings, and make you more 'visible' on the Internet;
  • make your profile as comprehensively full of information as possible, which then improves chances of making connections;
  • where ever possible, publicize the link to your profile.
How does LinkedIn compare with blogging or an ePortfolio?
There are the skeptics such as Mark Levison who has never found any value in LinkedIn. But I would think it's like anything - you get what you put into it. I haven't spent much time on my account and consequently no one ever contacts me via LinkedIn. All my time investment goes into this blog, Twitter and my ePortfolio. How successful these tools will be in my future job hunting efforts remain to be seen.

LinkedIn and health professionals
Like Alan Stevens, I wonder if LinkedIn is overly hyped, and in actuality it is another Facebook, cleverly marketed to suck in us job hunters. And I wonder how much LinkedIn is used by health professionals and the employers of health professionals? Do employers of health professionals check them out on the Internet? Have we got to that stage yet in health, or is that yet another urban myth?

LinkedIn versus Facebook
I have certainly noticed a marked increase in people connecting with me in Facebook, much to my disgust because I really don't want anything to do with it. So I am wondering if I should put my limited time into building more of a Facebook presence as opposed to spending a lot of time on LinkedIn.

But in the meantime, to hedge my bets, I have completed a little more of my LinkedIn profile and have invited a few people to connect with me.

Do you use LinkedIn? Have you ever managed to get a job because of LinkedIn contacts? Have you every managed to get a job though any social networking tool such as a blog or Facebook. If you are an employer, do you check out future employees in places like Facebook or LinkedIn? Do we in health use social networking for seeking and providing employment? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Image: 'LinkedIn smurfs' 99zeros


hbacmama said...

You are on Facebook and I'm not your 'friend' yet!
ahem... sorry, I just got a perfect score on the stages of birth quiz over at Carolyns blog.
Feeling giddy!

DaveB said...

I've had unexpected benefits from linked-in. But it is a single purpose site. It is a professional linking network. Face-book on the other hand (which I avoid) is social, pure and simple.

I would not expect to get offered work on facebook, I have been on linked-in (and yes - that's without me actively looking)

Sarah Stewart said...

@hbacmama: Yes, I'm afraid to admit to being on FaceBook :)

@DaveB Thanks for that. I hope I'm as successful as that in July when I'm unemployed!

Sarah Stewart said...

hbacmama: Have you seen this:

Daryl Cook said...

Chris Brogan has an MeBook, which includes quite a few tips for using LinkedIn. I haven't implemented them yet, but looking how to leverage this tool better. I'm a little bit sceptical about its value.

Sarah Stewart said...

@Daryl Cook. Thanks for that. I see Chris has written a number of articles about LinkedIn. As I said, I'm yet to be persuaded of its value over a blog, but time will tell, I guess.

Dot said...

Sorry I haven't responded yet to your request to link to you on LinkedIn! I'm not on this site yet and I'm hesitant to get involved in another activity of this kind. I try to keep Facebook to a minimum but it's horribly easy to let it eat up time. I use Facebook mostly for friendship not work, though I am linked to some colleagues because many of my friends are medievalists and other varieties of academic. So I suppose LinkedIn would not be duplicating what I do with Facebook, but I still wonder how much use it would be to me... So please forgive me hesitating over your request.

Sarah Stewart said...

I owe you, Dot, and everyone else in my email list an apology. I accidentally spammed everyone with an invitation to join LinkedIn. So don't worry about it, Dot. Apologies again for bothering you.

Jeffrey Keefer said...

Sarah, I have not really used either of the services to their potentials (partly because I see active networking as being pushy, and I do everything I can to not be intentionally pushy).

With that said, I think the more of your own information you share and the more you are able to offer others (think of this as open-source), the more you will get known and thus considered for opportunities.

Perhaps I should take a lead from my own advice?!

Sarah Stewart said...

LinkedIn won't be a key resource for me, Jeffrey, I'm sure. But then again, I said that about Facebook 6 months ago, and that is slowly changing, so who knows....