The Value of LinkedIn

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When I first started using LinkedIn, I had no idea what it was really for, except for “professional networking”, whatever that is.  That was many years ago.  How long ago, I have no idea.  It isn’t the professional’s version of Facebook, that is for sure.  I am barely active on Facebook.  I don’t find Facebook to be of much use to my professional or personal life.  Sorry, Facebook.  Nothing personal.

As time went by, I could see that LinkedIn is a really good substitute for a Rolodex.  I can hear people asking, “What is a Rolodex?”  A Rolodex was first used in the 1970s.  They are still sold.  A Rolodex is a rotating file device used to store business contact information. Its name is a portmanteau of the words “rolling” and “index”.  Great, and what is a portmanteau?  A portmanteau is a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others, for example motel (from “motor” and “hotel”) or brunch (from “breakfast” and “lunch”) and “‘WiFi” stands for Wireless Fidelity.  “Podcast” is a portmanteau, a made-up word coined from a combination of the words “iPod” and “broadcast”.  Why?  I don’t know. 

Anyway, back to the point.  What is the value of LinkedIn?  According to Dictionary.com, networking is a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.  So, how do we go from having LinkedIn connections to having a supportive system of sharing information and services?  It isn’t instantaneous, and it doesn’t happen by itself. 

I believe that LinkedIn is based on the principal of six degrees of separation.  Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people are six or fewer social connections away from each other.  This shares many of the same principals as the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, which is a parlor game based on the six degrees of separation between an arbitrary actor and Kevin Bacon.

How do I keep losing my way…?

Okay.  So, in many ways, LinkedIn is a way for professionals to connect with people, but also for introductions to be made by (or for) others.  When you post something on LinkedIn, your first connections can see it, like it, or comment on it, and if they do, their first connections will see what actions your connections have taken.  It makes the world just a little bit smaller and closer together. 

Maybe that is it.  LinkedIn makes the professional world just a little closer together. 

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