Is LinkedIn Working for You?

So now that you’ve moved past the early infatuation stage, is LinkedIn working for you? I’ll freely admit that I’m thrilled that LinkedIn provides a way for others to update my rolodex. But past that, I’m not entirely sure where the value lies for a person like me.

It’s a different situation for folks in sales and marketing. The ones I talk to rave about the enormous, extensible list of contacts they can develop via LinkedIn. To be honest, that’s also why some friends of mine have locked down their contacts — they don’t want their vendor friends harassing their non-vendor friends.

And what about those 59 million LinkedIn groups? Have you joined any? What percentage of the proposed discussions are more than thinly veiled marketing ploys or pleas for social media contacts?

As you can see, I’m struggling to find a way to make LinkedIn really work for me. Do you have any advice? What’s working for you?

17 thoughts on “Is LinkedIn Working for You?

  1. I'm using LinkedIn as a news resource. I belong to a four professional groups and one alumni group and find the non-marketing articles can be very useful and informative.

    1. Dave – In your estimation, what's the proportion of marketing to non-marketing articles? How much weeding do you have to do to find the good stuff?- Mary

      1. Mary,I read about 10% of what is published based on what interests me.About 70% of the posted articles in the professional groups are non-marketing articles – most are links to other sources. The professional groups are very well policed. The marketing is limited to consultants in the field publishing editorials. In the alumni goup the marketing is very easy to spot and ignore. There has been a big push by the alumni users to censure marketing spam, so I expect the amount will drop over time.Dave

        1. Dave – 70% is a pretty good proportion. It sounds like you've found the right groups for your interests. Do you use a particular process for identifying productive groups?- Mary

          1. I think there is a certain amount of luck, but I think the common threads are:- Forum linked to a professional group or tied to a specific area of interest- National or international membership- Active moderation either by the group founder or the sponsoring organization

            1. Dave -Active moderation appears to be the key. Without some judicious weeding andguidance, the group discussions get smothered by poor quality content.- Mary

  2. I find the LinkedIn groups to full of garbage. Mostly spam and self-promotion. I was hoping that LinkedIn would act as a better personal CRM tool. Its great for the job history and resume. I would like to have the option to make my contact information available to my connections, or a subset of connections and vice versa. I would rather turn to LinkedIn for more up-to-date contact info than Outlook.Pop quiz. In your Outlook address book, am I still shown at Goodwin?

    1. Doug – It sounds like we belong to some of the same LinkedIn groups! What should we (or LinkedIn) do to improve this situation? Or do we just give up and be grateful for an operating rolodex?- MaryPS: Yes, my Outlook address book is a little out of date…

  3. I use it to sign up friends that have left our company, and I would use it if I need to look for a job again (by contacting those friends). Other than that it doesn't do too much for me. I share your concern to link to any sales people (like former vendors) – I don't want them to start bombarding my contact list.In short – I don't expect much, but I am not dissapointed.

    1. Thanks, Lars. So the secret is to limit our expectations? It's a shame since LinkedIn has such potential.- Mary

  4. I have been trying the LinkedIn Answers area again over the last couple of weeks. It's a nice way of proclaiming and advertising expertise without spamming my contacts or spamming the Groups. And it is still a good way to keep abreast of what is happening with previous business colleagues who aren't further out in the world of social media.LinkedIn Groups require much more attention that I am willing to give. And the groups I follow seem to be full of reposts from other places.

    1. Thanks, Jack. To be honest, I haven't explored LinkedIn answers before. However, based on your testimonial, I just might give them a try.- Mary

  5. It has not “worked” for me yet, Mary. But for practising lawyers, I think that the advantage is another means of establishing one's profile, and as one connects with one's clients, showing them the connections that one can make for them.Also, potential clients will be looking in LinkedIn to see what they can find out about you. If you're not there, they're going to be drawing adverse conclusions.

    1. John – It sounds like some of the value is simply in showing up and being present. It will be interesting to see if lawyers are able to convert that mere presence into engagements by paying clients.- Mary

  6. Mary, I'm glad to hear you refer to LinkedIn as a self-updating online rolodex, because that's primarily what it's been for me and I was coming to think I was totally missing the boat. 🙂 I probably could make better use of it by being more aggressive in adding to my contacts through “friends of friends” — but frankly, I'm having a hard enough time as it is managing the contacts I have now, and I don't see the point in adding people just for the sake of having them on my contacts list. The whole point of “contacts” is that you actually, you know, contact them once in a while, and that's extremely hard to do with everything else pressing in all the time. Adding more contacts only makes that harder.As for the Groups, I agree there's a lot of work involved in keeping them free from marketing bumpf. I recently stepped down as owner of the Legal Innovation Group, mostly because I just had too many other demands on my time and I couldn't give it the necessary attention — but the hassle of constantly deleting vendors' posts was also disheartening. That said, groups like Legal Innovation do offer good discussions precisely because they're moderated (my successor is doing a great job), and there are a few other good ones in the law (there's a very promising one about the 21st-century business model for law firms). Like most things online, there's a lot of chaff, but some good wheat too.Overall, I'd say LinkedIn is useful for keeping track of contacts in an online networked world, and for picking up helpful insights and information (and it's not like I'm paying for it, so the value proposition is positive). Beyond that, I think it requires a lot more effort than I'm willing or able to give in order to really power-up its benefits.

    1. Jordan – With respect to the rolodex view of LinkedIn, I'd say that you're in excellent company!On the issue of contacts, I've heard that there is an alternative theory that suggests that our LinkedIn contacts shouldn't be limited to just friends and acquaintances, but should stretch to people who are within our sphere, albeit it around the edges. This theory suggests that in an era of weak ties, the more such ties you have, the better. The downside is that once you let everyone into your circle, you may have to make difficult decisions about which requests you will fulfill and which people you will ignore.Thanks for being such a diligent moderator of a LinkedIn group. I wish the others were as diligent. I've found that the presence of low-quality discussion topics, shallow consultant opinion pieces, and cheap ploys by folks trawling for contacts has greatly diminished the usefulness of Groups for me. It's a shame there isn't a rating system for groups. Perhaps that might clean things up a little.Finally, the issue of LinkedIn's value proposition is important. If all you're doing is keeping your own contact information up to date, then the value proposition is positive. But the moment you start wasting time on difficult requests or dead-end discussions, LinkedIn becomes expensive because it starts costing too much time.- Mary- Mary

  7. Dave -Active moderation appears to be the key. Without some judicious weeding andguidance, the group discussions get smothered by poor quality content.- Mary

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