The online network LinkedIn is for some people, including me, a great networking tool. For some others it represents a bit of a nuisance, in the form of emails from known or unknown people inviting them to “connect” on LinkedIn. What LinkedIn does is explained here:

Through your network you can:

  • Find potential clients, service providers, subject experts, and partners who come recommended
  • Be found for business opportunities
  • Search for great jobs
  • Discover inside connections that can help you land jobs and close deals
  • Post and distribute job listings
  • Find high-quality passive candidates
  • Get introduced to other professionals through the people you know

I suspect that some of the people who see the invitations to connect on LinkedIn as a nuisance, but without investigating further, would in fact be interested to know how professional LinkedIn actually is and how powerful it can be as a way of organising our networks and building new connections of value to our business and professional aims.

Stan Relihan is an Australia-based recruiting wiz, a headhunter, who is a highly-linked person on LinkedIn. In an interview the other day he was interviewed by self-proclaimed Linkedin sceptic Cameron Reilly of The Podcast Network. The interview is a great introduction to LinkedIn – Stan meets Cameron’s challenging questions head on and in the process of responding he explains in down to earth terms how LinkedIn works from a business point of view. At the end, Cameron sets him an interesting challenge.

Stan has a huge network, with over 5,000 direct connections (i.e. “1st degree” connections in LinkedIn terminology) – he is Australia’s “most connected” person on LinkedIn.

I take a different approach to LinkedIn and my immediate LinkedIn network on LinkedIn is nowhere near as extensive as Stan’s: even so, the relatively smaller number of people in my immediate circle of connections on LinkedIn, 277, gives me access to a huge number of people, over 2.7 million at only three degrees of separation, out of the 9 million+ members of LinkedIn.

Some screenshots from my LinkedIn site give an indication of the reach and and range of connections, in terms of industry/profession and geography. 

The first of the screenshots shows that my 277 people connected directly translates into over 2.7 million at the “3rd degree” of connections.

They range from the USA to Uzbekistan.

And LinkedIn shows me the industries represented.

One of the best ways to understand how to get value from a LinkedIn membership is to join one or more of the LinkedIn related groups on Yahoo Groups, particularly My LinkedIn Power Forum and LinkedInnnovators. Then there’s LinkedIn Bloggers, where I’m a moderator (if you apply to join, please provide your LinkedIn profile link in the comments box or we won’t be able to approve your membership).  And for Australians, there is the new LinkedIn Australia group – of which Stan Relihan is one of the moderators.

Networking expert Scott Allen has an excellent site, LinkedIntelligence, devoted to showing how LinkedIn works.

For recruiters, there is a wealth of information in the e-book + recorded interviews with top recruiters, on how they use LinkedIn, which  Bill Vick and I put together over a year ago, published as Happy About LinkedIn for Recruiting (couldn’t leave that out ).

For more information, check out the LinkedIn site. And basic membership is free.

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