I've decided to blog some about social media and social intelligence. Why? Actually, this tweet from K. Brian Kelley (@kbriankelley) prompted it. I don't believe I'm a pied piper. I have a knack for recognizing good (and profitable) ideas almost instantly, but I am often unable to articulate why. For that reason, I felt better when I read Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink.
I think various social media sites are a good idea. I attempt to articulate why by saying things like "'Cause, you know, it's cool." (You need to work on your closing, Andy...). So far, I haven't convinced a lot of people. But I have convinced some to hang in there long enough for them to recognize and realize the benefits of some social sites and services. Fortunately, they do not suffer from my articulation-block, and they're out there spreading the good news.
LinkedIn is a career-related social site. There's a free status (Basic) and three paid statuses (Business, Business Plus, and Pro). The paid statuses range in cost from $24.95/month to $499.95/month.
In essence, LinkedIn is a way to maintain business relationships. In a word, it's about networking.
I attended Don Gabor's networking seminar at the PASS Summit 2009. Don emphasized the value of networking in person. But networking online is a natural use of, well, a computer network. When I was a consultant, a lot of business came my way via my network. There's also value in interconnected networks - Don spoke about this some in his presentations, and there are some cool articles and posts about communication with the "super-connected."
You can learn more about LinkedIn from their About page.
As LinkedIn states, Relationships Matter. Maybe you're gainfully employed and love you current job. Maybe not. The time to start building your network is now - not when you're downsized. If you haven't started building your network and find yourself down-sized, then by all means start building your network. But - trust me on this - it's much better to have a network in place for when you need it.
Also, you may be surprised how much you gain from participating in a network. I spot industry trends. learn about new technology, and hear about cool events by listening to my network. I've also built relationsips on LinkedIn first, then followed up IRL (in real life).
I recently imported my Gmail accounts into LinkedIn to see how many people in my address book are on LinkedIn. I had a sizable network before that, but it grew 50% from that single act.
Groups and Events
A lot of user groups have started using Basic LinkedIn accounts for managing communications to their membership. They are taking advantage of LinkedIn's Groups functionality. Groups make is easy to blast email to a list of interested parties. Since LinkedIn abstracts away changing email addresses, it's easy to keep up with folks as they change jobs/email adresses.
There's also an Events page that serves as an integrated event engine for members of LinkedIn. Again, the integration here is key: you can set up and maintain events that span job / email changes.
Pay It Forward
If you are employed and life is treating you well, your network is an excellent place to help those suffering less fortunate circumstances during these economically troubling times. You can "do philanthropy where you are" by passing resumes of your network connections who are unemployed to friends that are looking to hire folks.
LinkedIn is a cool social site (there I go again). Maybe K. Brian Kelley is right after all...