On July 5, 2006, I became a LinkedIn member.
It’s been nearly ten years, and it’s easily my favorite and most useful social network. If you haven’t put much time or energy into it, let me tell you why you might want to start.
Here are the ways it helps me:
- It reminds me who I know. Having reached the other side of the half-century point in my life, I know a lot of people. It’s too bad I can’t remember them all. Just the other day I ran into a colleague I haven’t seen in a while, and for a moment couldn’t put her face and name together in my brain. Yes, I know the problem might not have anything to do with the number of people I know. I appreciate that LinkedIn reminds me of these people in my life. I get the notice that my long-lost coworker Gino got a promotion. In that moment I remember Gino. Remembering is good.
- It gives me reasons to touch base. Networks need to be nurtured with regular contact. It’s easy to forget to do that, or it’s hard to come up with a reason for why I should. LinkedIn provides it. Gino got a promotion. Great. Now I can send him a quick, “Good for you” note.
- It tells me where people have gone. Maintaining contact databases isn’t fun. Too often contacts have moved on and didn’t think to tell me. I wish they would. Soon my contact list becomes less reliable and valuable. With LinkedIn, I don’t have to maintain it. My contacts maintain it for me. When I’m reminded to reach out, I know where to find them.
- It gives me a way to share what I know. When I find a helpful article, write a blog post, or have an idea others might benefit from reading; LinkedIn offers me a vehicle to put it out there. I know most people aren’t super diligent about checking their LinkedIn feeds, but those who do will find what I think of as “gifts” from their old friend Tom.
- It provides me with opportunities to learn. There’s way too much online to know what to pay attention to. With LinkedIn, my contacts have screened and endorsed cool stuff, and they share it with me. I tend to pay more attention to what people I know recommend.
- It helps me better know people. There have been many times I’ve met people at a networking event and exchanged business cards. Later, I send them LinkedIn invites. It’s true, I barely know them, but once I check out their profiles; I quickly learn a lot more that might be a foundation on which to begin building a stronger relationship.
- It shows me how we are all connected. There are people in the world who can help me. There are many I can help. The problem is that we don’t know each other. The connection between us is hidden. LinkedIn makes those connections visible and creates an opportunity to reach out beyond our inner circle of friends. I want to make better use of this feature.
When people tell me they think LinkedIn is a waste of time, I can’t help but think they are missing a big opportunity. I understand that a LinkedIn connection isn’t much of a relationship—yet. It does, however, act as the catalyst for creating one.
In what ways has this tool been valuable to you?