LinkedIn: Strictly Business

By Marilynne Rudick on June 12, 2010

My initial efforts to use LinkedIn, the largest online business social network, started badly. I thought I was writing a personal note to a friend, asking him to join my LinkedIn network. But instead of sending a personal message to Greg, I inadvertently sent it to everyone in my e-mail address book. I was mortified.

Even while I was still reeling with embarrassment, acceptances started pouring in. It turns out that only a few people noticed that the e-mail was to Greg. And within minutes I had a hefty LinkedIn network of business connections.

There’s nothing new about business networking. It’s the best way to find a job, get new customers or find financial backers for a new venture. Online business networks make it easier to network worldwide. LinkedIn encompasses all types of businesses and professions. Others are more specialized targeting, for example, entrepreneurs, woman-owned businesses, or trial lawyers.

In the pre-internet era, I normally found that I was only two or three contacts away (two or three degrees of separation) from finding the right person for a job interview or client reference. (Jane, friend of Rob, suggested contacting you.)

Three Degrees of Separation

LinkedIn and other business networks use the three degrees of separation concept to develop business networks. You create a profile and ask your friends and business associates to join (a direct connection). Friends add their business contacts (your second-degree connection) and those friends add their contacts (your third-degree connection). You can access your second and third degree connections by contacting the person directly or by requesting an invitation from the person with the direct connection. The link to trustworthy friends and business contacts assures a degree of credibility.

I learned the power of LinkedIn’s spider web of connections. Shortly after joining, I was amazed to see that my initial network of 43 connected me to almost 370,000 people.

What I Like About LinkedIn

I found it easier to get comfortable with LinkedIn than with an all-purpose social network like Facebook.  With Facebook, my “friends” fell into many categories (close friends, acquaintances, business associates, family, old friends). With LinkedIn, my connections were all business associates and the purpose was clearly defined: grow my business and get advice and information about common business problems. With a clear purpose, I found it easy to write my profile–long on business background, short on personal information. There seemed to be less risk in using LinkedIn. The same rules for business communication applied whether the networking was in person or online. No posting party photos or even vacation snapshots.

I like the abundance of business-specific groups. There was a group for anything that I was already involved in and anything I might like to get involved in.

While LinkedIn is free, you can update to premium services for a monthly fee. The premium services let you connect via e-mail to people outside your network.

Learn More

  • For a simple explanation of LinkedIn, check out Common Craft’s video, What is LinkedIn? (2 min 29 sec)
  • For a clear and simple explanation (4 Tips) of  the whats, whys and hows of building a LinkedIn network, read How to Get Started With LinkedIn by Jake Swearingen.
Categories: Social Networking
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