LinkedIn: (Non)Social Networking for Grownups

You may be aware of LinkedIn, or perhaps not.  It’s an on-line networking site, but not of the MySpace or YouTube “social networking” variety.  It’s for professional networking, and you need to receive an invitation to join from someone who’s already registered with LinkedIn (thinks: so, just who did they seed the network with in the first place?).

I’m on LinkedIn, having received an invitation to join from my brother-in-law (thanks, Larry!) to help me network for my job search.

Now, I’m still debating how useful or effective LinkedIn is; some days I’m not sure that networking is as effective as the outplacement consultants say it is.  But that’s a piece of conventional wisdom to be dealt with another day, I think…

Perhaps one of the biggest problems I find with LinkedIn in particular is that it is not, for me at least, at all obvious what to do once you get past the initial registration setup in order to become 100% networked:

LinkedIn network progress bar

Now, I’ve been told by enough different people over the years what a clever lad I am for it to not be just good manners on their part, so I really ought to be able to suss out how one is supposed to set things up and what to do in order to complete my network.  But I find working with LinkedIn’s user interface to be less than intuitive — oh, the overall design is fine, visually, and things pretty much function, as in when you fill in a field and click a button it goes away and it updates things properly.

What I find missing is some kind of “executive summary” of the whole process.  I expect that the people who came up with the idea and designed the site probably understand it all very clearly.

But as I’ve often encountered in my career, knowing a subject extremely well often does not correlate to being able to make others understand it — the ability to do so is a gift, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some gifted teachers along the way.

On the flip side, I’ve also spent plenty of time in “brilliant person who can’t understand why everyone else just doesn’t get it the way they do” purgatory…  I’m sure some of my classmates (who, if I’m to believe LinkedIn, are just waiting for me to connect with them) from engineering school will recognize a professor or two in this description.

So, where’s this all going?  Ah, well, I have managed to finally figure LinkedIn out a bit; they have some FAQs and so on that have been of some help (though I still can’t seem to find a nice, tight summary of The Grand Scheme of Things LinkedIn), but mainly I’ve just started inviting a bunch of people who may have enough connections of their own to fill out my network.

Despite my occasional doubts about the power of networking in job searching, I’m also not going to ignore the possibility that it might just give me the one connection that clicks.

To that end, I’ve included a link to my Public Profile on LinkedIn over in the blog’s sidebar.  Note that to see more than the basics of my profile, you’ll need to sign-in to LinkedIn — you are already registered with them, aren’t you?


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