LinkedIn – What is the big deal?

Web 2.0

Sometimes I get it. Often I get it. This time, though, I don’t get it.

About four weeks ago, I received an invitation from a friend to join her ‘LinkedIn network’. I’m always interested in finding out about social software, so with a devil-may-care attitude I signed up, linked to my friend, and thought nothing of it.

Until the next day I received a second invitation. A few days later, a third. The next thing I know I’m racking up a decent list of connections.

Kind of fun. Quotes from the site told me that a lot of very successful people in powerful positions were LinkedIn. Students at big names schools were LinkedIn. I was part of the in crowd. I was important. At my fingertips was a powerful network of people, very likely in suits and ties, and who had large brains, who were just waiting to help me.

Help me do what? What exactly does LinkedIn do? My home page tells me that there are 38 people at the university I work at who are linked in. Am I supposed to invite them to my network? I’m told that I can find old class mates, but if I wanted to do that I would have clicked on one of those annoying popup ads with pictures of people with big hair.

My home page also tells me that my network is 55 percent complete. What does that mean? What happens when it’s 100 percent complete? Do I get a promotion? Do I learn secret handshakes? Do I go to Harvard?

I’ve picked up 526 people in my network sine July 6th, most of them in my third tier. I might pass some of them on the street, but we’d never know it. I don’t even know the names of people in my third tier. Am I supposed to send them a card? Some flowers?

And what is this business about not being recommended? LinkedIn is telling me that nobody has recommended me. There is a nice little application where I can request friends to come in and validate me. I’m insecure enough in the real world, now I’m getting pressure from the online one?

Articles I’ve read say LinkedIn is a great way to get recommendations. I have 12,500 people in my third tier network. Could they help me find a good barber? LinkedIn is supposed to help you find a job. I don’t want a new job, but if I did, would the fact that I’m in LinkedIn help? I could approach a potential employer and say, “Wait a minute, are you THE Jim Boswell? Yeah! It’s me, Marion, I’m in your fifth tier. You know Sally who knows Dave who knows Walton who knows Simon who sent me an invitation because I’m in his Google contact list! So, do I get the job?”

LinkedIn is kind of cool, and a lot of people are doing it, but for me…I still don’t get it. Maybe somebody in my third tier can help explain it to me.

*Update* Looks like I’m not the only one… A couple days after writing this, and we have stats released saying LinkedIn traffic is up 323% but other responding and questioning whether that means much.

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