LinkedIn valuable or not?
March 14, 2010 3:33 PM   Subscribe

LinkedIn advises that I don't invite people into my network that I don't know. But isn't that what joining a business related social network is supposed to do - introduce me to opportunities from people I've never met?

I thought LinkedIn was different from Facebook, in that you're aren't building a network of people you already know or who may know you, but getting new contacts? Do I go against the site's advice and accept strangers who've shown an interest in my profile, or not and people my list with the few business contacts I have?
posted by CollectiveMind to Work & Money (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The idea behind linkedin is that you only connect directly to people you know, so that you can act as a trustworthy intermediary between people. If Friend A needs a flash developer, and Friend B is a Flash developer, you can introduce Friend B, or recommend Friend B if Friend A finds him in his extended network. Obviously this doesn't work if you connect to every random person out there.
posted by adamrice at 3:37 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

adamrice is right. The power of linkedin comes through as a personal reference tool. There's no point in connecting with complete strangers if there is no intermediary to vouch for you as a person.
posted by hellomina at 3:50 PM on March 14, 2010

What they said. LinkedIn is meant to be sort of an online collection of business cards/resumes of people you know.
posted by octothorpe at 4:20 PM on March 14, 2010

There are many ways you can use linkedin and no wrong or right answers. I’m pretty sure from reading these responses and hearing what most people do with linkedin that I do something a bit different, but it doesn’t matter to me whatever everyone else does with it. I’m giving my 2 cent opinion so you can see an alternate model that you can use.

First, I am linkedin to many former colleagues/supervisors, etc. (and some of these people have even provided online recommendations), so I do use it in the traditional sense. I do, however, also accept invites from people that I do not know, although I first check to see if they in the same industry and why they want to linkedin, though, and make a decision based on this information.

For me (as a freelancer), having an open, searchable to all detailed linkedin profile plus contact information and a link to my webpage has turned into a lot of lucrative projects. I estimate that I landed projects that were equal to several K and probably one third of my income as a freelancer. These people found me, requested that we link in, and then we had follow-up phone conversations. I can’t emphasize enough how some of the best companies (IMO) use linkedin as a search tool to find people to hire for projects. Again, for myself, if I want to succeed I have to get my name in front of people, and this tool works well for me. Plus it is free, a lot of people use it, and it is highly specialized (versus a random webpage – do you think anyone will find that? or have you seen the models that other companies use for advertising [eg, a list that you pay to see? Not very efficicient])

Main point here, though, is that linking into people I don’t know has worked out very, very well for me.

There are alternate hybrids you use if you don’t feel comfortable with this. I also have an alternate email address listed, so if someone wants to talk to me they have a means to do so. Also, I have a link to my webpage so that the person can find out more about me if they think they need someone with my background and want to see samples, etc. Anyway, you could try something like that if you don’t want to “linkin” and the results should be similar (they can contact you for their projects, jobs, whatever).

You can also search for industries of your choice and detailed job listings to learn about possible companies that you may want to approach.

I’ve barely scratched the surface with linkedin, but I think that there are many, many ways to use it. Experiment.
posted by Wolfster at 5:04 PM on March 14, 2010

LinkedIn works in two, only semi-related, ways.

The first is the free network of work and school acquaintances -- here's where the personal references come in, and the value of the "Link" (and not linking people you don't know). I have found the value of this original aspect of LinkedIn to be quite modest.

The second is the resume database. Anyone with a paid membership can search and see all profiles, regardless of links, and directly contact anyone they are interested in -- no need for the chain of connections. This tool is immensely powerful and useful. LinkedIn is threatening to be the real category killer in this aspect of job / gig search and find, not unlike Craigslist: lots more inventory, much cheaper price.
posted by MattD at 5:59 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't know if you share this particular problem, but I've always thought that LinkedIn uses a particularly loose idea of knowing someone. "Nodding acquaintances" would be more accurate. It's perfectly acceptable to claim to know someone when really what you mean is you met him once and chatted a few minutes and you wouldn't object to seeing him again at some point. (Of course, that doesn't mean you get to ask favors of him as though you actually knew one another.)
posted by d. z. wang at 8:20 PM on March 14, 2010

LinkedIn connections are just the same as business cards. I've got cards from people that I spoke to for only 30 minutes. I don't see any problem with that.

One good thing about LinkedIn is that when they move company then my database is updated. With a traditional business card, it immediately becomes worthless and only good for the bin.
posted by mr_silver at 1:36 AM on March 15, 2010

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