When you think of networking and the web, social sites like Friendstr, Facebook, and MySpace probably come to mind. These sites tend to cater to teens and twenty-somethings looking to make friends and simply have fun on the net. They are all about connecting and building a network, but not really in a professional sense. So where does a young (or old) professional turn to leverage the web for networking? Try LinkedIn.com.
I began using LinkedIn a few months ago following an invitation I received to join a former colleague’s LinkedIn network. I signed up not really knowing what the tool was all about. Several month later, I have begun to utilize the site as a powerful tool for building business. The ability to search for contacts, keep information current, and share information with others all combine to make LinkedIn.com something worth using to build your business.
As an Account Executive, I am expected to generate new business for my employer. LinkedIn has helped make this task much less painful. Rather than having to blindly cold call on a new prospect, I can start by doing some research on LinkedIn. Living in Dayton, there is a pretty good chance that I know someone who knows someone who works at the company I am targeting. I can then contact my connection and learn more information or even ask for a personal introduction – thus taking a lot of the “Cold” out of the cold call, and dramatically improving my chances of success.
LinkedIn is also great because I can also keep track of people I know. If someone changes positions or companies, they simply need to update their LinkedIn profile and everyone in their network is provided with the most current contact information. The LinkedIn Outlook extension will even update your outlook contacts as new information comes available. It makes keeping your contacts updated virtually effortless.
Finally, LinkedIn allows you to keep the world informed as to your own professional accomplishments. The LinkedIn profile page lets you tell the world all about the latest committee you served on, the newest promotion you received, or the great web site you developed. Additionally, the page allows you to feature recommendations from those whom you have worked with in the past, lending greater credibility to your successes, accomplishments, and abilities.
I highly recommend LinkedIn to anyone in a professional role who believes in the power of the network.
AND…like almost anythng I recommend it is free!