LinkedIn: It’s Social but is it professional?

I have used LinkedIn for almost four years with little success. My husband who is a Product Manager of Security Software found employment using his LinkedIn site. Why does it work for some careers and not for others? How can I use it to find library employment and later use it to create a Library site? I chose to find more about LinkedIn to decide whether the social tool is useful for either of my purposes.

First, what is LinkedIn? An article in PC magazine by Jill Duffy reviewed LinkedIn and provided some history of the company (www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2120736,00.asp ). She explained that the site started in 2003 and it is a “social networking site although it’s really more of a professional networking site.” LinkedIn provides instructions for a resume/CV and allows the addition of example of work. As of today, it is the most popular professional network site according to eBiz magazine (http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites) with 110 million unique monthly visitors. Great, now I know what the site is but who uses it?

I first looked for a library using LinkedIn. A quick Google search of libraries on LinkedIn found a very long list of libraries (http://www.linkedin.com/directory/companies/libraries.html). It was necessary to narrow the choices so that I could attempt a review. I chose to just look at San Francisco Libraries and found 24 libraries. An example of a library presence is the California Genealogical Society and Library is (http://www.linkedin.com/company/california-genealogical-society-and-library). However, a review of the sites by libraries revealed that each has just a presence on LinkedIn with a summary description and location. Since most of the libraries that I reviewed had a simple presence on LinkedIn, I asked what social site did libraries use to reach patrons?

The San Francisco Public Library supplies links to Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Santa Clara University has links to Youtube and Facebook. Finally, San Jose State University has links to Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. LinkedIn is for professionals yet libraries have a presence and use Facebook as the major library site. Facebook for libraries is a site that libraries can use and the interface is simple.

A second Google search for Librarians on LinkedIn found 194,486 international profiles. As expected, Librarians use LinkedIn as a professional network. When I narrow the number of profiles  to only the USA there are 82, 672 profiles. I know who uses LinkedIn yet I still need to know how difficult it is to establish a profile.

To begin a profile on LinkedIn is just like creating a resume. You can cut and paste details from an existing resume. Advanced features available can improve connections. You may personalize the site URL by placing your name in the URL. If you have a blog or website links are easily added. In addition, some useful applications to attached are a Blog Link by Six Apart, Slideshare will add links to presentations (examples: http://www.slideshare.net/vinitadj/use-of-social-networking-sites-in-academic-libraries http://www.slideshare.net/stephenfrancoeur/social-networking-sites-and-reference-services) , a Reading list by Amazon to share books and a Portfolio Display application: http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=application_directory. Most of the add-in applications are difficult to find without a direct link. Another benefit is the Job Board and a search function for specific jobs that saved for further use. To prepare an effective profile on LinkedIn is time intensive and difficult. My next question is what other professional networking sites are available and are any easier to use than LinkedIn?

The only competitor that combines professional networking with job connections is BranchOut http://branchout.com/ . This site began in 2010 and was developed by executives of Napster, Facebook, WordPress and Google. It is currently a free Facebook application that maintains corporate connections. The other products mentioned as competitors are really glorified contact lists. Those mentioned are HootSuite, Ning, and Ziggshttp://www.ziggs.com/

Following my investigation of LinkedIn and its competitors, I still believe that it is the best networking site for a resume. I have also learned that the site is  more effective it is necessary to add some advance features. Furthermore, Facebook will remain the choice for libraries for two reasons. The first reason is that patrons and students use Facebook and the second reason is that the Facebook for libraries is easy to use.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “LinkedIn: It’s Social but is it professional?

  1. cybrariansam

    I haven’t found it to be that difficult to create a profile on LinkedIn. I think the online resume format looks really sharp for linking to potential employers. I think one main deterrent from LinkedIn for me is the fact that many of the features are only available once you are a paid member. Seems like free alternatives such as Facebook would be more popular, but LinkedIn seems to have a unique setup so for many people it may be worth it to pay the fees.

    Reply
  2. Barnaby Hughes

    So what other kinds of functionality can you get on LinkedIn by paying the fees that you can’t get otherwise? And is there any cost to creating an institutional profile on LinkedIn? Is it easy?

    Reply
    1. Christy Confetti Higgins

      Hi Barnaby – Here is a table showing what you get with the LinkedIn Premium service: http://www.linkedin.com/mnyfe/subscriptionv2

      I have been using LinkedIn to connect with other professionals, follow companies I’m interested in, and join groups or communities that discuss topics of interest to me professionals (ex. Corporate Learning, Social Learning, etc.). I do not have the Premium service and have found for me, the free service gives me all I need.

      There are separate models for recruiters, sales professionals etc. that provide features that fit those needs.

      Reply
  3. Christy Confetti Higgins

    Hi Michelle – I agree with you and your findings about libraries are using Facebook more effectively to reach their communities about their services which is great. I think a LinkedIn profile for a library would server a different purpose then connecting with users about services – it might be more general about their organization – which is what it sounds like you found.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  4. mcnabbarchives

    I started a LinkedIn profile last year when I started this MLIS program, but have put little effort into it. I see the potential for showcasing skills, employment history, and so forth, but I’m still not quite sure how to make it work effectively. Building a social network is difficult! I think it will take some time but could have some real benefits down the line.

    For a library, I wonder if it would be best suited for finding potential employees, rather than as a medium for patron participation.

    -Caroline McNabb

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s