Now let the record show that I am making an earnest effort to use LinkedIn as part of my ongoing job search. Why the change of events? I keep hearing unsolicited recommendations from friends who found it useful. Or, as Duncan Watts would say, my personal network has finally overcome my internal threshold of resistance to adapting new behavior.
A Brief LinkedIn Primer: Most of my readers probably know this, but the idea of LinkedIn and its ilk is to automate the networking process. Once I open my personal account on LinkedIn, I can invite my friends and colleagues to join my network. The power of LinkedIn is that by storing my network and my friends' networks (and their friends, etc.) it can guide my networking. For example, LinkedIn could help me navigate the shortest path of referrals from me to Kevin Bacon, assuming he were also a member.
There are lots of social network software programs out there. Why am I focusing on LinkedIn? First, because it's the one my friends specifically mention over and over again. And second, because its professional focus matches my specific networking goals.
For now I am just getting started. I wrote a profile that identifies my areas of expertise and goals. Then I started inviting friends and colleagues one by one, until I found that LinkedIn can import my entire Outlook address folder. That was nerve-wracking -- who's getting access to my address folder? -- but I forged ahead because of LinkedIn's good reputation. From there it is a snap to invite any of my current contacts to join my network, and I can easily see who is already a member of LinkedIn and therefore more likely to want to join networks.
Next thing you know, this old dog's gonna get a cell phone.