Sunday, January 27, 2008

What is LinkedIn REALLY about?

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.

Common Uses

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.
There are many fun “small world” things that happen. For example, I forgot about a guy who highly recommended my work years ago. I found him again because his wife was one of my wife's dance students!

More places to learn about how to use LinkedIn:

Protecting Your Privacy

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
Sample Advice for a NonProfit Seeking Funding

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: 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.
While this advice might not be specific to what you wish to use LinkedIn for, this should give you some idea. There were literally hundreds of answers that I didn't even look at relevant to this topic. LinkedIn is a terrific resource!


  1. AnonymousMay 01, 2008

    Linkedin is evil. A headhunter has more ethics. they wont work with your company and at the same time recruit your employees. Linkedin does just that, wanting companies to post jobs while they sell the companies employees to recruiters.

  2. Leaving your post up, but there are a LOT of things either misconstrued or outright inaccurate in the "evildoer" article.

    For example, in a number of cases where LinkedIn offers some control, you tend to mistakenly state that there is no control, or it is handled improperly.