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Is Linkedin Really Worth The Time & Effort?

Is Linkedin Really Worth The Time

A couple of times a week, the e-mails inundate my inbox. The subject line reads, “Join my network on LinkedIn” or “LinkedIn Network Updates” or “1 new job on LinkedIn,” and invariably, I’ll sigh, open the message and do whatever is asked. I click yes for a new connection, or I scan what’s happening with the people with whom I’ve already connected.

I’m on the site for less than a minute before I close it out, relieved that my LinkedIn duties are done for the week. Which leads me to this question: Why the hell do I bother?

Is Linkedin Really Worth The Time

Is Linkedin Really Worth The Time

It’s not like LinkedIn is a terrible waste of time or even that annoying. But, in my mind, I don’t need to build these connections, make these new friends. I already do that on Facebook and on Twitter. And though it seems like my industry of journalism would compel me to keep up with LinkedIn and try to network my way through it, I’ve never gotten the sense that it does. If I need to pitch a story to a national newspaper, I can do that through e-mail. If I need to network and look for more work, I can do that at live sporting events or on the phone.

Even when I was solely a freelance writer and I hungered for those contacts, I barely paid LinkedIn any mind.

A gag on a recent “Daily Show” episode epitomized what LinkedIn is for me. After playing a clip from CEO Jeff Weiner saying, “We connect hundreds of millions of people around the world (to) connect talent with opportunity,” host Jon Stewart said, “Oh, is that what LinkedIn is? I thought it was an email-inbox flooding service whose sole purpose in life was to remind me that the guy I went to a high school with wants me to join LinkedIn and spam everyone I ever met.”

To be fair, the only reason “The Daily Show” played Weiner’s clip in the first place was because President Obama chose a LinkedIn forum to pitch his latest jobs bill. So, I guess you could say that if the president is pimping LinkedIn, perhaps it’s worth investigating whether using the site is really worth your time.

Job Networking

For some industries, it certainly is. Take Marissa Joyce, for instance. She’s the marketing director for a media marketing company in Atlanta, and she uses the website every day. In her industry, it’s imperative.

“There’s such an intense amount of networking,” Joyce said. “People contact me constantly for jobs and recruiters are constantly contacting me. I can’t get over other people I know who don’t use it. Before we hire somebody, we’ve already reviewed their LinkedIn profile. We know who they’re connected to.”

There’s a reason Joyce and her bosses have to be vigilant about LinkedIn. Their world, like many businesses, is based on connections and who you know. Unlike Facebook, nobody on LinkedIn cares about seeing pictures of your kids. Unlike Twitter, they don’t revel in the thought of you eating a tuna melt for lunch. But they are interested in knowing what you can do for them if you decide to work together at some point in the future. And they care about possibly hiring you for a job. And they care about knowing who you know.

“In our business, key people are on this,” Joyce said. “If we’re hiring somebody and they only have five connections, that’s a huge problem for us.”

Client Connections

Connections are what Jeanette Soltys is looking to build as well. Soltys recently opened her own law firm, and she needs those connections to form the foundation of her client base. Her marketing strategy is to network one-on-one with the professionals who can refer potential clients to her firm.

Her plan of attack goes something like this:

“What I do is browse through the list of connections for the people who I already personally know and who I have added to my network,” Soltys said. “Then if I see someone in their connection who would be a good contact, I ask the person in my network to introduce us. They will introduce us through LinkedIn or via email with a short introduction paragraph about each of us, and suggesting that we connect. I then set up lunch with that person for us each to learn about the other’s practice and to talk about referring each other business.”

When Soltys opened her firm in July 2011, LinkedIn was an afterthought. But she’s certainly a believer these days. It’s building connections with contacts and their contacts and their contacts, and that’s how she’s expanding her network.

Lee Heidel—the CEO of Heideldesign, a web development company in Savannah—doesn’t care about building new connections. He just wants to make sure his current connections know what he’s doing.

“We use LinkedIn a good bit for networking with existing clients to let them know what we’re working on (current projects, new clients, new ventures),” Heidel wrote in an e-mail. “Our response rate there is higher than on Facebook or email campaigns from existing customers. No new clients, per se as we only accept people that we’ve worked with in the past.”

Business or Pleasure?

Heidel thinks he knows why LinkedIn is better for that kind of social networking than Facebook or e-mail. It’s because when people are on LinkedIn, they’re actively thinking about their company and their career and how to build both of them. Facebook is for pleasure. LinkedIn is for business. It’s really that simple.

Still, I’m not sure I’ll ever utilize LinkedIn the same way Joyce, Quinlan and Heidel do. But if you’re unemployed and in need of a job or if you’re desperate to build your clientele, LinkedIn is the place to do it.

All you have to do is survive the email onslaught.

Comment below to tell us your thoughts and if you think if Linkedin is worth the time and effort?

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