I have been using the LinkedIn network for a couple of years now but to be honest it has never really been my favourite on-line network because it really didn't contain much in the way of networking tools - but that is all changing.
If you want to look for a job in IT, or promote yourself to prospective head hunters, or look for joint venture partners in a software project there is no doubt that LinkedIn really works. There are some very high profile success stories like Scott Rafer who contacted Eric Marcoullier one of the founders of MyBlogLog with an idea for the development of the product, got appointed as CEO and has just picked up a very nice fortune when the business was acquired by Yahoo last month.
But things are happening at LinkedIn to make the network more interactive in particular the new Answers feature which enables you to ask any question and get responses from the LinkedIn network - very useful if you want some opinions on a product or service or if you want to undertake some research - but most importantly it is getting members of the linked in network interacting where it had been fairly static.
The real value of LinkedIn is in helping members find out who their network knows and getting introduced. I have just 330 members in my network - but they know nearly 150,000 people. However even getting people I know who are on LinkedIn to connect never been very user friendly. If you click on my profile in the right side panel it is not easy to see how to link to me and you need to then go find my email address to send the invite all of which means you may not bother. However yesterday Marketing Hipster Cord Silverstein pointed me to a very neat widget created by Andy Beard - the LinkeIn Fast button
Just Click to Connect
Get your own LinkedIn Fast
Update: As you can see this neat widget is no more. LinkedIn objected and Andy removed it (actually I think it probably does still work - but LinkedIn want it stopped. So if you want to link to me on LinkedIn my email address is rikki at gendershift dot com (just to stop the spammers though I think most of them have my email address already)
I have also noticed that more an more of my network contacts are joining LinkedIn - I recently connected up with a number of trans community leaders from Press for Change and that has promoted some better communications and the possibility of some joint venture work. So I am suddenly taking a much bigger interest in LinkedIn and my network is growing very quickly.
If you are not a member I do recommend joining and linking up with me - you may be surprised who you meet, and if you need some tips on putting together your LinkedIn Profile here are some great ideas from top blogger Guy Kawasaki.
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