21 July 2010

Linked but undecided

Photo - flickr - by gmajsicmtc
I must admit this is the first Thing that has left me completely cold. Most new applications I try  I want to play with, experiment, explore. With LinkedIn, I just felt completely non-plussed. Having said this - I suppose it is no surprise that since being invited to join I have done little to my account - despite the encouragement of the invitee, who waxed lyrical about how good it was for professional networking.

With this in mind I discussed LinkedIn with my husband who has been on LinkedIn for a number of years, and asked his views on the value of LinkedIn, and it's potential use for the library world.

Plus points for him included-

-good for maintaining the network of work colleagues you have built up at various places of employment - a certain amount of proof for potential employers that you have actually worked where you say you have if you have them in you LinkedIn network.

-network can mean that the people you are networked with may, when a job vacancy comes up, both remember what your particular skills are and have a way of finding you again, or passing on the details to the potential employer of a way of contacting you.

-some job agencies keep a network set up of people who are interested in jobs, having it set-up to alert them to changes to your profile. This can be useful to them to keep up to date with your skills, and useful to the job-seekers who keep reminding the agencies of their presence!

Personally, I still feel a little wary of how much I want to display to how many, and I still need to consider in that case how useful the above points would be (my husband had much more of his profile visible when job-hunting - now much is private again). As for current awareness -  I feel Twitter is much more user-friendly.

He did make an interesting point on the nature of Cambridge's libraries however... saying we seemed to have a very good active actual network of librarians. Many of us know each other personally and professionally, so in this kind of environment perhaps we have less need of a network such as LinkedIn... whereas in the generally more spread out world of work LinkedIn comes into its own (which is perhaps why my friend was so enthusiastic about it, working for a commercial rather than a library within the university). Perhaps he suggested it would be useful to link our close-knit network with one at Oxford?

I can now see some of its possible advantages as a career development tool, - as yet I am less sure of its use to the library itself. I can see this is a 'Thing' I need to explore some more, and perhaps visit again later in this blog!


  1. Fair enough. I think Linkedin is a bit like Twitter, it becomes more useful the more you use it.
    I think it is much more useful for keeping in touch professionally with people outside Cambridge, and not necessarily those who work in libraries ...

  2. As the person who recommended it to you (and I'm glad I'm still a friend, by the end of it!) I do understand that you don't find an immediate use for LinkedIn. You identify that you are in a well connected network with many training opportunities, and have a secure and stable job. Over time, though, colleagues may move on to other parts of the country or other positions outside your immediate network, and although they are not friends in the Facebook sense, you may need to get in touch with them at a later date for a reason you don't yet know. I see the lack of frenetic activity on LinkedIn as a good thing - it's not yet another thing to keep up with, but it's there if and when you need it.

    Most of my contacts are not librarians - they are colleagues who have moved on to other parts of the company in far-flung parts of the world, many of whom wouldn't dream of being on Facebook or Twitter. As Sarah says, the longer you are part of LinkedIn, the more uses will emerge.

  3. I suppose if I added more info, it would be more use to others too!
    I think the 'problem' with a lot of applications is that you need time to look at and become familiar with them. While Cam23 has been excellent in encouraging people to 'have a go with new applications - by its very nature you look at them briefly and move on. While this works fine with the likes of Doodle, others need more time, and you can't give a proper overview until you are accustomed to them. I am finding this a problem with Zotero - to do it justice and find out what it really can do I should spend weeks playing with it - but by necessity it will be a 'first impression', rather than my final view of it.