Last night, @LoriRuff (aka the LinkedIn Diva) posted a link to an article titled “Is LinkedIn checking out?” Given that she is the LinkedIn Diva, I thought that this must be a pretty interesting article, so I took a look. The article makes some good points about what LinkedIn may be lacking. Some of its features may be outdated, too. But for all of that, the article gave me a different idea about LinkedIn. Because LinkedIn is smaller than Facebook and Twitter…because there are less features to manage, why not use LinkedIn as Social Media training wheels? Ease your way in to Social Media, dip your toe in, knowing that things could get more crazy, more of a balance act, just like the difference between training wheels and a regular bicycle. Here are some ways LinkedIn could be helpful.
1. You control your network: Unlike in Twitter, where people can follow and unfollow you 5 times an hour if they want, LinkedIn is much more restrained. To follow someone you need to show that you know them or encountered them in real life somewhere along the line. They need to approve. You get easy emails when someone wants to join your network, and you can approve or ignore or disallow each one. Emails within LinkedIn help you keep track along with an alphabetical listing of your contacts.
2. Status Updates aren’t all that important: Because LinkedIn was developed from the start as a professional network, it’s never been lumped in with the “I don’t need to know what someone ate for dinner” crowd of Social Media sites. This means that there’s less pressure on you to post updates, but it also means you can practice commenting on the status updates you do see so that you can get used to interacting that way online.
3. You choose your scale of involvement: There is little pressure in LinkedIn to join groups. It’s helpful for networking, of course, but you have full control over what groups you want to join. You can determine how you want to be contacted about updates to the group – daily digest emails are good because you can scan everything that happened in one quick email. If you feel like participating in a group, that’s fine, but you still get the information being shared even if you don’t post much. This is different from Facebook pages and groups, where you have to take the initiative to go to the page or group and find out what’s going on. It’s harder to feel involved in that scenario, and it’s harder to stay caught up.
4. The closed wall: LinkedIn is much more locked down than Facebook or Twitter. You can control your privacy in all three sites, but much more information can be safely locked away in LinkedIn. If one of the obstacles in the way of you getting involved in Social Media is the “privacy thing,” this is a good place to start.
5. Conversations: One thing you learn about Facebook and Twitter is that they really are most fun when you converse and engage. This can seem tricky because there are so many conversations going on on both sites all of the time. On LinkedIn, you are networking with people in your own industry, and you can join groups that discuss your interests and passions. This allows you to learn how to converse on a social networking site in a low-pressure, reasonably chaos-free environment.
Using LinkedIn still requires planning, especially if you are entering the site on a corporate rather than an individual basis. There are ways to make clear that several individuals all work for the same company, for example. And LinkedIn has features that extend beyond the beginner stage. You can now add video, for example. However, in terms of dipping your toe into what Social Media can do for you and/or your company, LinkedIn is a great place to start.
Does this make sense? Let me know below. And if you need help getting started, we can help you with that, too.
Image by Joachim Bär. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/joejoe77