How relevant is LinkedIn?

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So it’s 1.30am and on a whim I decided to update my LinkedIn profile. It’s weird that though I got the hang of the new Facebook interface (quit whining about it already, people), LinkedIn befuddles me.

The thing about LinkedIn is that you only really ‘get it’ once you’ve filled in your profile and tweaked with things such as your public profile. I like the ability to include apps on your profile such as blog feeds. Right, now I can distract myself by reading blogfeeds within LinkedIn too!

I’m surprised so many people I know are not only on LinkedIn, but have fairly recently updated profiles. Is it a sign of job insecurities? People just preparing or looking out for the next gig, just in case this one falls through?

Why then am I updating my LinkedIn? It’s just one more thing I need to do to manage my ‘online identity’. When you’re on the Web as much as I am, managing the way people perceive me online matters. I have a website, yes. And a Twitter account. Plurk too. Facebook – do you really need to ask? A MySpace somewhere and all this adds up to quite a lot of stuff you can find when you Google my name. No, I don’t Google my name. That’s what Google Alerts are for.

Since I’m now making a career of public relations, it would be patently unwise to be unmindful of my own online fingerprints. At The Agency, I’ve had a client read my blog entries to see what sort of inappropriate content I should desist from writing from then on. It’s a reminder that yes, the Internet is a place where employers will do research on you. So those drunken MySpace pictures? Take them down. Embarrassingly bad high school poetry? Well, that’s what a lot of new pop songs sound like so that won’t matter much. Unless you’re applying to teach poetry at a college or university. Then, hide the evidence of your own amateur ramblings.

LinkedIn, I think, is trying to be the grown up, business minded person’s Facebook. No Zombie apps here, thanks very much. Instead you can share more enlightening things like slide presentations and your professional/corporate blog. I have to admit, though, that I’m only on LinkedIn because, like Facebook, I just caved to end the constant stream of invites.

I just wonder if LinkedIn has proved a valuable tool in career search  or headhunting. Have not heard any “Oh, I got an interview offer from LinkedIn stories!” What would be nice is if LinkedIn and Facebook hooked up. So you’d have a public profile for employers and a private, personal section for friends and family. Should something like that emerge, there had better not be any Zombie/Werewolves/Leprechaun crap. 

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