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    Using LinkedIn

    LinkedIn is a powerful tool for enhancing and maintaining your professional people network. An article about the service was recently published in USA Today.

    I was first introduced to LinkedIn several years ago when I received an “invite” from someone I worked with on a project. My initial reaction was to ignore the invitation. I am suspicious of unexpected e-mail, and giving out any personal information unless I have a good understanding of how it will be used. LinkedIn’s web site identifies the following three primary benefits of the service:

    1. Find past and present colleagues and classmates quickly. LinkedIn makes staying in touch simple.
    2. Discover inside connections when you’re looking for a job or new business opportunity.
    3. Your network is full of industry experts willing to share advice. Have a question? Just ask.

    After some cursory steps to verify what LinkedIn was, I created an account and simply ignored it for over almost two years. During that time I never received any spam or unexpected communications as a result of having a LinkedIn account. Some time later, in 2006, I was reintroduced to LinkedIn during a meeting with colleagues. I saw how my coworker had developed an extensive LinkedIn network of peers and colleagues, and I decided I should do the same.

    Since that time I have used LinkedIn frequently. As a rule-of-thumb, I only send invites to people who are already a member of LinkedIn. I do seek out trusted colleagues, and new professional acquaintances who are already LinkedIn members to establish connections. There are over 14 million members, and it is growing every day.I avoid establishing connections to people I have not met or worked with.

    I set my public profile to read similar to a resume. It identifies all of my employers and a quick summary of my jobs. Since I have done lots of project work, I also list some specific customers — but not details of those engagements. This sometimes results in unwanted contacts from recruiters, but I have found those to be rare. This detailed public profile serves two important purposes for me.

    1. People who have heard of me, but do not know me, can quickly discover a little about my experiences and expertise.
    2. Those who have business opportunities that fit my background can find me.

    In practice I have found LinkedIn to be helpful in learning more about my colleagues and keeping track of those who move around. It is also worth noting that my current job the result of a contact made through LinkedIn. LinkedIn has worked for me, and it can work for you with a little effort. There are over 14 million members, you must know some of them!

    Frequently asked questions about LinkedIn are answered here.

    View Brendan Moon's profile on LinkedIn

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