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LinkedIn advertises itself as a social network for professionals. The home page doesn't cater to any kind of eye candy. There are no forums or extra content here such as Tribe and each person's network consists of their direct connections and their connection's connections... similar to My Space Friends. The network can then be used to find jobs, people and business opportunities. Functions include recommendations from connections by the user's approved connection (Friends).

Once you have registered with the normal required information, you're asked to choose the boxes regarding how you want to network.

What can your network help you with? (Examples - Finding a job, Reconnecting with colleagues I've lost touch with and Finding professionals interested in my new venture or product)

The next set is

What kinds of things do you want to be contacted about? (Messages from friends or colleagues trying to reconnect with you, Contract or consulting offers and Career opportunities)

You can then invite people to join and be part of your network. Sort of like multi level marketing but it's more relevant to job and career networking. At this point you can either enter your entire outlook or compatible address book with all of your friends and work email addresses or you can manually add the ones you want. In case Linked In turned out to be a waste of time, I choose to enter three of my friends who would only possibly give me a dirty look and not actually scorn me verbally.

You confirm your account and you're ready to fill in your profile just as you would at My Space. Leaving out all the cuteness like fairy backgrounds and pictures of ourselves at bars and in non-conservative clothing.

In your profile you're able to add previous employers and positions held. I was incredibly tempted to place Hell as my previous job location with the following description.

A place of weeping and gnashing of teeth where torments occurred regularly and where fires were constantly alit and was almost virtually imposable to put out without sacrificing one's social life. A place to be punished for 9 to 12 hours a day 5 to 7 days a week in the everlasting destruction in the presence of the CEO and his minions, aka the President who was mistakenly sent there when she mistook it for a cute Santa Monica Promenade clothing boutique and has never emerged to this day.

However... I simply put a hard working dedicated office in the whole foods / natural products industry.

Other options in your profile include:

  • Summary
  • Interests
  • Education
  • Specialties

From this point you can start playing around with how you want people to view you. I feel a little strange having my real name and work published so I take out my last name and just put ~.

Now you are all signed up and ready to go. You can now look for former co-workers and request a connection link to them and vice versa (there's a catch). Like any social networking site, you can Search people's profiles and request that the two of you do the Linked In version of the Vulcan Mind Meld and become Linked In Brothers / Sisters, which allows you to look at each other's contact list.

Upon linking you or your link brother / sister can send a note to a connection; but must first be approved by the holder of that connection.

In other words, if we did the Linked In Vulcan Mind Meld, you could peruse my contacts for people that might be useful to chat with but for you to send them a note to do so I must first approve it. Rather it is approved or rejected...you won't know. As the sender of the note, you're not informed of my decision.

In Invitation Settings you get to choose which Invitations you want to view. You can choose 'All' from anyone or only from people who know your name and email address.

The first few searches I did gave some decent results. Than I put in Writer and the only result I got was my own. So I tried a friend's title, Actor - received two pages. In order to be found you must have a description with keywords that others are looking for.

I have to mention that one profile I read sent inappropriate geek laughter to my wacky brain when I read the summery that stated:

"I get excited by technology and products that integrate technology in ways that directly benefit humans to have a richer and more fulfilling life."

You translate that any way you like. Don't ask, don't tell. Be careful of how you phrase your profile. Read and re-read it. Have friends and co workers read it and give their opinions.

Link In looks like it could be a very good resource for collecting recommendations and general opinions while also possibly keeping in contact with form co workers you have lost contact with or would like to keep in contact with once you leave a company.

At the moment it looks very similar to anther popularity game of thee who has the most connections wins... for the moment.

One of the negatives I read about included deleting a connection. To delete a person - each deletion of a connection requires an individual request to customer service. It's not just a check box and submit type of thing. That's a red flag. How long will it take Customer Service to do the delete?

The catch

As a free member you have very limited services and site functions available to you. Functions that require upgrading include

  • Viewing a member's entire summery
  • If you do not know a member but would like to be a connection with this person, you can send an 'In Mail'.
  • Requesting introductions
  • Searching LinkedIn network and receiving detailed results

The former Executive Vice President of Pay Pal, Reid Hoffman is Link In's CEO and co founder. He's an adamant Investor who has been the final step in success if not the direct driving force behind web corporations such as:

  • Lulan
  • Taxipass
  • Friendster
  • Flickr
  • Digg
  • Sixapart

LinkedIn is more a social club site than a free networking site. The professionals aimed website targets business users at a higher level such as managers and executives. If LinkedIn can maintain or truly build a prestige of individuality, it'll be an impressive way to make important contacts; especially so for those looking for a foot in the management door.

If the standard employee was to use Link In it seems as if they could create a profile and fill it with all the necessary career information in hopes that a Link In member with a paid account will find them. A long shot.

The governing principle is that persons of influence will be selective about passing along references. As mentioned before, when a member signs in to their account, they're informed of reference requests, which can be accepted or rejected. Should a request be rejected, the person who asked for it is never informed. Link In states that this decreases the chances that inappropriate requests will be forwarded.

For the person who sends requests - you have a limited amount of monthly references and introduction requests available to you. So you have to be choosy.

As a general-purpose job site, it can undoubtedly work. I did a job search for Administrative and received results I could indeed apply to without a paid account.

If you're fortunate enough to gain entrance to its elite client list of Link In members with more than 20 connections, it's a great resource for tapping venture capital, higher career positions and technical expertise.

I believe that as online communities evolve, we'll see more social networking sites using LinkIn's recommendation of approval, for connections from one user to anther.

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