Thursday, March 26, 2009

LinkedIn learnings

Over the last few weeks I have been increasing my use of LinkedIn. It started with adding a few more contacts from my Outlook contact list. As I logged in each day, I noticed that when I added someone to my contacts, they would go and have a look at my profile. So I started appearing in searches more often. I think this raises your profile so that you then start appearing in other searches. There's a little link on the right of the page that tells you how many times you have appeared in searches. When you click on it you get a whole list of people from the industry that was searching on you or someone like you - eg: a search by an education manager for a training manager. Suddenly you're `LinkedIn' into a whole industry! The other thing you can do is to look at the contacts of one of your contacts. Say you have some consultants in your contacts, go and look at who they know. This is very very powerful networking.
My interest in the site really took off when I signed onto a couple of groups. The groups are particularly interesting because I get feeds from them that allow me to scroll through their content and hone in on matters of interest.
Now I am building a focus group for professional consultants who work with our business. The group will allow professional discussion amongst it's members, on matters relevant to their virtual workplace. In a business where staff are spread nationally and globally and are often employed on a consulting basis, it can be very difficult to get a sense of work community and belonging. I decided to trial the use of LinkedIn, because it has the added benefit of professional networking described above. For consultants, this is more valuable than going to an internal organisation site and simply using a sterile forum on that site. It also provides a number of other facilities, such as the ability to put widgets on the page, such as slideshare, or a link to a blog. Hopefully we will get some form of document sharing available soon.