Is LinkedIn Worthwhile to You?

I’m a “late adopter.” I used to be an early adopter, but that was between 1985 and 1995. I got my first Mac in 1985–the “Fat Mac,” the big one, the one with 512K of RAM instead of the original 128K. And I was the first PhD student at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago to petition to write my comprehensive examinations on a personal computer. I was turned down, of course: the committee was worried, in those early days, that I would bring in a library via floppy disks. Instead, they left me alone in a room for four hours, on each of five days, during which I could have simply carried in dozens of books and notepads without anyone noticing…. The next student who asked, of course, was allowed to do so. Yes, I was a groundbreaking, trail-blazing pioneer in those olden days, sonny.

But a decade of trying to keep up with technological changes that weren’t always for the better, at least not for me, soured me on perpetually lusting after The Next Next Thing. So I’ve hung back, needing to be convinced of new ways to spend time typing on a keyboard.

My sons first prompted me to get on Facebook, so I am, and I enjoy seeing photos of friends here and there (my main use of it). One of my former students convinced me to start a weblog, and I’ve enjoyed that a lot. Friends of Len Sweet talked me into Tweeting a year ago, and I’ve enjoyed that, too, although my followers are few (but of exceedingly high quality, I’m sure): @jgsphd.

Now I’ve finally succumbed to LinkedIn, since lots of people I like and respect are on it–and I’m so easily led. I’ve caught up with the several dozen invitations I’ve been sent over the last while. But I’m not at all sure what the point of it would be for a bloke like me.

So what do you use LinkedIn for? Has it helped you much, or at all? Could it be useful to people like me, or is it really a business-0riented application?

0 Responses to “Is LinkedIn Worthwhile to You?”

  1. Rev. Mike

    As with most social networking, it’s just an effort to manage relationships, professional in this case, at a time when people are so mobile and spread out geographically. I’ve had people decline Facebook invitations and accept LinkedIn invitations because they wanted to “compartmentalize.” What does get annoying, though, is the people who link their LinkedIn feeds with Facebook feeds so that you still end up reading their “just had a bagel for breakfast” updates.

  2. Pat Pope

    I’ve uploaded my resume onto LinkedIn, but don’t really use it. I’m connected to many of my co-workers and a few others. But the only time I go on the site is to accept someone’s invite. It does not give you the ability to block certain people or block them from finding you in case you have those types in your life.

  3. Laurie M.

    Like you I’m a user of Facebook and Twitter. I tried and abandoned Google+. I’ve been on Linked In for a couple of years and find absolutely no use for it. I’ve absolutely no idea what it’s for. I keep getting invitations, which I accept, but that’s it. The email updates I get make no sense to me and tell me nothing of interest. I really and truly have no idea what it’s for or what benefits it offers. My husband feels the same way, but maybe it’s just us.

  4. Tricia Millar

    I’ve managed to use it to connect with other literacy experts around the world – people I’d never interact with otherwise – by joining a discussion group. It hasn’t led to more work but has been a good experience.

    I’m also getting better about connecting with 2nd degree contacts who may share an interest in getting disengaged teens back into education. Success in that area is still to be evaluated.

  5. brgulker

    I use it as a place to keep my resume publicly available, essentially. As a young professional aspiring to grow in my career, I find this worthwhile.

  6. Cyril Chalk

    I have joined linked in as well, but have found limited use for it. I accept the invitations that continually appear, but that’s about it. The two requests I received for information, from folks I already had email contact for, asked me to provide this in a public forum, which i am reluctant to do, and the information needed could have been provided by requesting it in a private email. To each his own, but I find very limited use for it.

    cchalk

  7. buddyglass

    It’s mostly useful for getting a job (more precisely: getting contacted by recruiters). Especially if you’re in the tech industry.

  8. PrestonP

    I resonate with those who say it’s not tremendously useful. I have “links” to friends and colleagues and I’ve used it to find contact info, but that’s about it (and I can usually find that info with a simple google search). So it’s really just a rolodex with pictures and extra info. For the limited time I spend on it, I say it’s generally worth keeping tabs on it once in awhile.
    Thanks for posting to the blog – glad you’re enjoying it, we are!

  9. Daniel Azuma

    I actually deleted my LinkedIn account just a few weeks ago, after having been on the service for about 4 years. It had given me pretty much zero benefit during that time, besides attracting a lot of spam from recruiters.

  10. Steve Wilkinson

    I haven’t found it to be of much use, then again it doesn’t take much of my time either. I have the account… check it once a month maybe or respond to a request if I get an e-mail.

    On the other hand, my wife used it extensively when she was working directly in an HR role, and so, I’d assume (as the above comments indicate) that for someone looking for a job, it is quite beneficial.

    I guess a lot of business networking goes on there if you are in certain professions as well (sales for example), but I haven’t found much connection for apologists, theologians, etc. yet anyway.

  11. Alan Bulley

    I haven’t found it to be enormously useful, but I do use it to keep in touch with former colleagues and it has occasionally been a way to connect with people who share similar work interests. And, yes, headhunters do seem to be the power users.

  12. Tim Boland

    From what I’ve seen, the utility varies a lot from profession to profession. If you’re not actively hiring or job-hunting, then the best uses I know of:

    -Drawing some additional speaking invites, if your profiles is optimized to come up in the right search results.

    -Writing/asking for recommendations, as a more active way to build up professional networking than just accepting invitations to “connect” – this can help you build a solid base of testimonials to round out the sorts of expertise that you claim for yourself via the blog & website.

    -Using the Question/Answer forum where possible to enhance your reputation as someone knowledgeable in your field (much more applicable in some fields than others!)

    -Events app can be good for finding relevant conferences/workshops.

    -Connecting with Groups in your areas of interest/professional associations – I haven’t seen much out there that’s theologically related but I also haven’t dug too deeply; on the flip side, the social media groups I belong to have been very helpful over the past year.

    -The News feature is OK, depending on what you list as your key industry/industries.

    Once you’ve got your profile set up, you can probably feed your blog and (perhaps) your Twitter account into your status updates to keep the page looking fresh, and you shouldn’t need to do too much more management beyond that.

  13. John Stackhouse

    Thanks for these comments, gang–very helpful.

    And I find LinkedIn to be another addictive time sink: “Ooo, I know that person! And that one! We should get connected! I can’t think of any reason why we ought to through this particular medium, but it’s just so fun to point and click!”

  14. CJW

    John, I’m glad to be able to contribute for a change after enjoying your blog (though, if I had a more gracious and articulate way, I would’ve after my strong disagreement with your original #ows post).

    LinkedIn can be good in that it’s more ‘set and forget’ than Facebook. But academia.edu gets another vote from me for being more relavant to the sector, but ultimately, blogging is probably the best platform form most writers (academic or otherwise).

  15. bruce annan

    Noted Internet expert (and your cousin) Scott Annan has been widely quoted as saying, “Linked In is where relationships go to die.”

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