I was recently trying to explain LinkedIn to a few family members and friends… in this economy, people are definitely thinking about what comes next or how to protect themselves. But I think this is wrong. Business networking and your professional network can't just be resuscitated when you need it… you need to keep it healthy year round.
I recently came across my business card rolodex book, and I realized what an antique it truly was. Sure I have some pretty cards that are little bastions of miniature design… but they instantly go out of date. Here are ten reasons why I use LinkedIn… the paid version which offers more features.
- People move around. People are constantly getting new jobs or switching employers. I need to be able to keep track of them. Once we're connected on LinkedIn, I can find them wherever they end up.
- References matter. People have left some nice references and lots of endorsements on my profile. Nothing goes further than references… people really respond well to thoughtful opinions left about your work and character.
- Great groups. I belong to several group on LinkedIn. These let me interact with peers in a high-quality forum environment.
- Two or Three degrees of separation. Whenever I need a connection into a company for business… I can usually find a connection. It may be a connection that knows one of my connections, but this is an easy way to get the inside track and make a proper engagement.
- Targeted business news. I get some great articles from my network… and why I enjoy Facebook and Twitter… there's very little talking dogs, dancing babies, and spammy ads.
- A great app. The app of LinkedIn makes it really easy to browse the site and my connections. It also keeps my phone up to date with contact information for my network.
- Geographic awareness. Whether I am traveling for business and want to connect (check out Here on Biz) or to filter my lists on the site to find crew and freelancers in my network, I use the site all the time to connect with other professionals.
- It's not just resumes. You'll find videos, articles, slideshows, photos, and posts. The site is as rich as any other social media site, but a clearer focus.
- Search for jobs or candidates. If you need to look for a job, there's lots of those. If I need to advertise a position, I can go headhunting based on lots of criteria.
- See who's thinking bout doing business with you. Depending on privacy settings, I can see anything from their full bio to info about industry and location. This is a great way to see what's on some of your colleagues minds or to spot potential business opportunities.
Trust me… Using Linked In and taking the time to post updates and gather references… really makes a difference. Build your professional network so its strong and vibrant when you need it most.
I guess it's working… I got this in the mail today…. looks like LinkedIn just hit 200 million users…