I've been a LinkedIn member since late 2003.
LinkedIn is a service that allows you to post your bio/resume on the web and link to other professionals who are also on the service.
I have always been intrigued by the potential of the service but until recently the only time I used it was to accept or reject requests to link to me. At one point over a year ago, I became frustrated by the amount of LinkedIn spam I was getting and posted on my frustration. Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn's CEO, commented on my post and promised some new protections to reduce LinkedIn spam. He lived up to his promises and while I still get spammed, its not as frequent or as annoying as it once was.
Slowly but surely my network on LinkedIn has expanded. I have been very strict about who I let into my network and I reject or ignore most of the requests. But even so, I still have 49 connections, all with people I know well and respect.
So what changed? Well we hired Charlie. And we asked him to find some "off list" reference checks on a company we were looking at. He went into LinkedIn and came back with a bunch of people we knew that we could call. That blew me away. I am a huge fan of "off list" reference checks, particularly where we have a relationship that we can leverage into a candid conversation.
Then we wanted to help one of our companies do some hiring in a senior position. Again, Charlie suggested LinkedIn. Within 10 minutes, he'd identified some really high quality candidates via LinkedIn.
So that got me thinking. What LinkedIn has built is this huge resume/bio database of high level professionals in the IT, Media, and Telecom sectors. And connected everyone inside the database. If you think of it in that way, its amazing what you can accomplish with it.
So we are big fans of LinkedIn now. We are using it all the time for due diligence, hiring, contacts, relationships, etc. Networking is one of the most important factors in deal sourcing and due diligence and LinkedIn is helping us do that.
If you are a LinkedIn member who never uses it (like I was), I suggest you give it a shot. And if you aren't a LinkedIn member but do a lot of networking for your job, I suggest you become a member.
Now, in all of this activity we have been doing, we have never done anything that makes money for LinkedIn so I suspect they are still working on monetizing this vast database they've built. That is their challenge and I suspect they are up to it. But for us, it has become a great tool.