Sorta Social: Why Do People Use LinkedIn?

As someone who owns a business in the tech industry, I get probably at least three or four calls every week from some offshoring company wanting me to outsource work to them. It's a little annoying, but easy enough to avoid or swat away upon answering. I also get maybe three times as many e-mails to the same effect weekly. Again, mostly harmless.

But I realized something recently and that is that many of these individuals are finding me via LinkedIN, the popular business social networking site, and I began to wonder why it is that I'm even on there to begin with. What value does it provide for my business or for me, personally, other than a presence on another social networking site and a link that may or may not increase my search engine ranking?

The truth is, I have no idea, so I put the question out to friends on other social networks and got some interesting responses.

Daniel Carlson: I used the job boards when I was out of work. They've got good listings that don't often show up elsewhere.

Brian I. Block: I use it all the time for research. I can see who else might support which organizations or charities. I can connect to somepeople on LI who aren't on FB or TW. Plus it's an extra professional result for Google searches that I control. AND I can see who's looking at my profile which lets me know if people are interested in me or my company.

Christy Kern: As a recruiter, it is a great tool to see what companies are hiring, who is moving and who is looking.

Mishta Smalley: My husband manages his professional contacts with Linked in.

Tom Fairchild: Reconnecting with former business associates and most importantly, we hired a really great Communications Director for Mobility Lab after advertising there. We received an overwhelming response to our job advertisement.

Jonathan R. Cohen: Linkedin is great for B2B, lead gen, branding, and more.

Amanda Bevan: I use it only to find corporate email addresses of people I need to contact for work purposes.

Jennifer Schwartz: None, but I think maybe it's good for some people to be out there so that Headhunters can find them?

There were also a number of people who believed it was completely useless to them. I'll be looking into it more closely, but if you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them in the comments.

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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke