A few months ago I opened an account with LinkedIn. I had never heard of it before that day, in fact I only found it because my friend had mentioned it.
And now, today, I realize that I should probably delete the account or actually use it. I logged on, delved into my curiosity and did a few searches to see what I thought about it. In my journey of discovery I decided that this site could be extremely useful to me. On the site, I'm given the opportunity to basically post my resume for anyone to see it. People and companies can search for me (or anyone with a few key characteristics) and I can look at companies, job openings and specific people. Why didn't anyone think of this before?
There are a few drawbacks to it; In order for a member to see all of the search results, or give more than a handful of requests, one has to pay for it (oh man!). For a site that I'm just getting my feet wet with, I don't think I really want to pay for it-I do have a budget!
And I think this is also a good time to point out the social media aspect of it; I think it could go too far. The site is for connecting on a business level. There are no walls to post on, I can't upload a gazillion pictures or create a crazy background on my page. In fact, the information that I can include on my page is limited to essentially what my resume has on it and a few paragraphs about myself. Even though there is a section for you to post your presentations and the projects you are currently working on, it isn't a place for you to write about how terrible you think politics are, or how you're completely stressed out about work and just want to spend the day at home.
I know, right now you are thinking that I have no idea what I'm talking about, but trust me. This blog, when discussing topics such as LinkedIn and how to make a boring day interesting, is social media. But when I blog about how I have no time to blog and I'm doing nothing but making excuses and apologies, is not social media. That is more like a way for me to discuss my personal thoughts and ideas. Don't confuse the two. Blogger.com is for social media, livejournal.com is for personal thoughts and ideas, just for a comparison example.
So let's look back at LinkedIn with social media. Is networking comparable to social media? They are close, but not one-in-the-same. A network allows people to connect and share resources and information, while social media is the act and ability through technology of creating the content of information that allows people to interact with it. I know, you're confused. So let's go over this again in short-hand.
Social Media; the act and ability through technology to create content.
Networking; Allowing people to connect and share resources and information.
LinkedIn: A site that allows people to connect and share information.
This doesn't mean that through networking you are able to find a blog and therefore share social media with a connection on LinkedIn. Don't get me wrong, the two can go together like pie and ice cream, but they are completely separate (like pie is different from ice cream).
In the end, LinkedIn is useful, but not for pouring your heart out or trying to tell a large number of people why you think LinkedIn is useful.