LinkedIn is a powerful social networking tool that allows you to hook up with other folks and communicate valuable profile information. You can put your profile up, which looks an awful lot like a resume, so that others can see how cool and valuable you are (or have been). And you can see your contact’s profiles, as well as the profiles of their contacts.
You really look a lot better if you have a bunch of contacts… but I think there is a happy place to be. I imagine that having over 30 contacts makes it look like you know what you are doing (I only have 11, so I guess I don’t know what I’m doing), but having too many makes it look like (at least to me) you are really good at sending out invites to connect, but how in the world can you have real relationships with over 1,000 people? Give me a break. Of course, some professions require this type of approach – for example, recruiters will have a ton. But I consider them to be an exception.
Realize that if you hook up with someone, and they have 30 contacts, that is not the extent of their network! They surely have relationships with others that aren’t showing because (a) those other folks don’t have a LinkedIn account, so you’ll never see them anyway, or (b) the person doesn’t want to let everyone else know that they have a relationship with someone else. For example, I met a super-hot VC that a bunch of people want to get in front of. I’m not going to show a LinkedIn relationship for two reasons:
- Our relationship is just developing, and I don’t want to jeapordize it by looking like we have been buddies for a long time… I have that relationship for a purpose (to get lots of money from him as an investor) and not to add him as one more contact on my list to make me look better, and
- I DO NOT want someone else to contact Mr. VC and say “hey, we both know Jason and we should get together…” in other words, don’t drop my name to someone that I am nurturing a relationship with. It would be very likely that the VC says “Jason who? Huh?” My relationship may be too fragile to have that early.
So of course, the 11 people in my LinkedIn account is not reflective of my real network. My JibberJobber network contact count is way higher than that 😉
I designed JibberJobber to work hand-in-hand with LinkedIn. Just export your contacts from LinkedIn and import them into JibberJobber where you can do some relationship management. I login to JibberJobber way more than I log into LinkeIn (I mostly login to LinkedIn when someone invites me, which is infrequent enough that I usually have to use the password reminder to reset my password!).
My recommendation? Get your name out there, do social networking, try and take advantage of some of its strengths. But don’t think that its the silver bullet of networking or job search. It is just one more tool that you should add to your toolbox. I guess the big question is, is it a big huge critical tool or is it one of those little tools for very special circumstances?
I know there are some real LinkedIn lovers out there, but there are others that are networking in restaurants and other places. How about you? How much value do you place in LinkedIn as a tool?
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