Getting to grips with LinkedIn

Thanks to my recent posts about my confusion about the point of LinkedIn and coming to the conclusion that LinkedIn is a giant Rolodex, I was treated by their PR firm to a briefing session. Here’s what I learned.

On Monday Shiva Kumar, an associate director at Edelman, spent 90 minutes over coffee running through the advanced features, mostly following the sequence of items in How Journalists Use LinkedIn.

The key lesson for me was that while LinkedIn is certainly useful for recruiters and job-hunters, it’s even more powerful when you think of it as a global database of professionals and their skills, experiences and connections, and use it for smart data mining — and by that I mean data mining that’s aware of the structure of people’s working relationships.

If I’m looking for people to interview on a certain topic, for example, the advanced search allows me to find people with specific skills in specific industries, and even filter by location or size of company. By searching for people who were in a company, say, five years ago but not now, I might uncover people prepared to talk about their problems. By searching for people with specific skills, I might find those who were working on specific projects.

Companies have their own LinkedIn pages, where they can list their products and services — and people can recommend them, with such recommendations presumably having value ‘cos you can see the professional context. If you follow a company then you see their hires, fires and promotions, which could reveal when new projects are kicking off.

LinkedIn Answers can be a quick way of doing specific research. Answering questions well can help build one’s reputation too, presumably. There’s a Polls application — hard to link to, sorry — that seems to offer some good features too.

I also learned that LinkedIn Groups aren’t all spam-laden ghettos. One in particular, Next Director, was pointed to as a good example. The group’s manager, Michael Field, did a presentation on how he uses LinkedIn that’s worth reading too.

There was plenty more, but I won’t go through it all now. I will point out, though, that some of the features I described are only available in the paid accounts. I can play ‘cos LinkedIn’s Tara Commerford gave me a free trial account with all the bells and whistles. So thanks to Tara and Shiva for that — though of course they were just doing their jobs.

Now that I’ve gotten the point of LinkedIn, I will certainly explore it a bit more and see what use I can get from it. I’ll report on that as I go along.

3 Replies to “Getting to grips with LinkedIn”

  1. Perhaps shooting it into the Sun would be more certain? In the last 2 weeks I’ve gotten so many “personal messages” and “Private messages” from some nimrod or other on LinkedIn that I’ve never heard of (and for that matter, who’s ever heard of LinkedIn? Honestly?) Not only do I wonder what to think of it, I wonder what they think I think of it. Like, what’s the appeal, you know?
    Then again, I don’t “tweet” and I also don’t get Facebook’s appeal or what it is intended to provide for people.
    I’m an alienated, anachronistic appendage on modern society.
    As some English kid once said, “This is a modern world.”

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