Disclaimer: Other than being a user of LinkedIn's free services, I have no connection to LinkedIn. Update: The New York Times has a good article on the benefits of using networking sites.
Short answer: It's an online contact management address book, people finder and expert advice site designed to help you network to find work, clients or assistance. It's the biggest of its kind—over 18 million people use it. It’s very useful in the free version (which I use), but a large percentage of users also pay to extend the features from time to time.
LinkedIn is sometimes perceived as insurance against future job changes. It’s an aid to getting a new job quickly, or finding a new one while still at your present job. Stats show getting connected on LinkedIn (at least 21 connections) makes you over thirty-four times more likely to be approached with a job opportunity (than people with four or less LinkedIn connections). So a list of uses might include:
- Asking questions of experts (one of the best sites anywhere for this);
- Find old friends;
- Find jobs/give yourself insurance against future job changes;
- Get recommendations about you and your work;
- Get new clients;
- Check references, find people to hire or help out your contacts by recommending them.
More places to learn about how to use LinkedIn:
- I'm on LinkedIn: Now what?
- Guy Kawasaki's
1013 reasons to use LinkedIn.
- 20 Ways to Use LinkedIn Productively for Web Workers
- How to get most out of LinkedIn
- LinkedIn Intelligence
LinkedIn gives you a lot of control. You can hide information about yourself, or only publish information you want friends of your friends to see. People who don’t know you through either a past job or a friend are prohibited from seeing your details unless they have searched for you specifically, and you have made your details publicly available. You can also choose whether to let Google show your LinkedIn page or not. And even if you make your profile more visible, you can always hide parts of it.
Even if someone wants to contact you, they would have to find you, request permission (from me or anyone you connect to), and in some cases pay a substantial fee (too high in the past to make sense for spammers) if they were outside your immediate network. You can let LinkedIn contact you with occasional reminders, or you can opt-out.
Even if you leave yourself logged into LinkedIn on a public computer somewhere, no one can access features that involve private information, because you have to login each time you access those features. (I wish other sites where that way!) Of course, on my home computer I let the browser automatically fill in my info to speed things up.
Ways to Take LinkedIn Further
- Join the LinkedIn Power Forum at Yahoo groups;
- Read and contribute at LinkedIn Answers;
- Stay up to date on strategies at LinkedIn Intelligence;
- Add the LinkedIn Outlook Toolbar (for users of Microsoft versions Outlook/Windows XP/2002 or higher);
- Read this LinkedIn article for tips.
Someone asked how to use LinkedIn if you are a not-for-profit seeking funding.
There were tons of people who had contributed to topics in the Charity and Non-Profit section of LinkedIn answers. I learned, for example:
Osocio.org has with a good track record providing information and resources on promoting your non-profit on the web. A great boost to a giving campaign.
Givestream provides free online fundraising and community-building tools that help nonprofits create their own branded easy giving center. Calculate how much they can help you raise.
Doing some brief research on LinkedIn answers turned up some of the following tips:
- View the list of helpful LinkedIn Experts in this category;
- List people you are working with currently, and all email addresses you have for them. Search LinkedIn for them, and ask them to join your LinkedIn network using the links provided on their LinkedIn profile page.
- List people you would like to reach, search LinkedIn for them, and ask your connections to introduce you to them.
- Write up a question for your project and post it to LinkedIn
- Search for people who's current job description includes the word "Fundraising" and ask them for advice on using LinkedIn in your effort
- Create a membership dues program;
- Contact corporations about a matching donations program before seeking donations from individuals;
- Create teams of people to go out and visit your major donors and ask for multiple-year pledges;
- For whatever someone gives by mail, multiply by ten and that's the gift they're capable of, as a rough estimate, if you visit them. A $500 donor can give $5,000, $1,000 can give $10,000. You'll have to teach yourselves how to ask for larger gifts: I recommend a video from Board Source called, "Speaking of Money" as a way to start your training.