Getting LinkedIn: 39 Million Users and Counting

The Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas) recently featured advice from human resource professionals about how job seekers and those looking to network should use LinkedIn. Seems as though many are finding it useful, albeit with different opinions on how to use it:

LinkedIn users know that they can significantly expand their reach by joining groups, which has triggered debate among users and the site over the potential for so-called serial invitations.

LinkedIn users, of course, know that the site takes issue with inviting people you don’t know and "trust."

"Let’s say you’re connected to someone that you met once at a conference and don’t ever really intend doing business with them," said Krista Canfield, a LinkedIn spokeswoman. "Your network update feed, which shows who’s connecting to who in your network, what questions your connections are asking, etc., will include this person’s updates now too. If you’re connected to 20 or 100 connections like that, then that’s even more useless update feeds that you’ll receive."

By contrast, she said, "if the 100 people you’re connected to are old co-workers, former employees, potential clients, etc., then that feed is a gold mine.  . . . If an old co-worker switches jobs and lands at a company that you’d love to work with, well then now you know that you have an inside edge at that potential client/partner."

Others don’t necessarily see it that way.

"I think the idea is to not be sending random notes to people," said Elena Radeva, a UT-Arlington employment supervisor and M.B.A. graduate, who is working on her Ph.D. and researching how companies use social-networking sites to choose employees.

Radeva said she doesn’t see anything wrong using LinkedIn to reach out to casual professional acquaintances. She and other experts recommend personalizing invitations to remind acquaintances of the link.

O’Malley said he sees no value to vast personal LinkedIn networks that contain large numbers of connections the user doesn’t know.

"There are people who have thousands of connections, and to me, that’s a waste of time," says O’Malley, who has 1,200 first-level connections and estimates that he would know 800 of them if he ran into them on the street. "The rest have been to my classes, read my blog, been to my seminars."

If you’re on LinkedIn, I encourage you to join the Indiana Chamber group(s) and get involved in — or initiate — discussions on issues important to you. We have a general Indiana Chamber group for public policy and business topics, and a Human Resources group that will feature discussions on relevant HR topics and products.