LinkedIn – Reflections of an Occasional User

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November 14, 2013 by cdvallance

By @cdvallance

I have previously written about my use of twitter and blogs.linkedin

The third social media tool that I use to a limited degree is LinkedIn. I know I don’t use LinkedIn as much as I could. I don’t regularly update my status to share information to the same degree that I use Twitter, for instance, where I’ve begun to develop valued acquaintances.

I primarily use LinkedIn as my professional digital Rolodex. It is particularly useful as a way to stay in touch with people external to my own University. When I moved to the UK from Canada five years ago, I left behind respected colleagues and professional associates. Linking in with them has enabled me to maintain contact from thousands of miles away. I have done the same since being here in the UK and still maintain contacts from my early days here.

Rather than relying on my email contact list which becomes out of date the moment someone moves organisations unless they specifically notify me, since they maintain their own profile I don’t need to update their information myself. Similarly, I didn’t need to tell my connections individually when I moved roles. We simply maintain contact with each other directly through LinkedIn.

I also use LinkedIn as a way to ensure that anyone who wants to know a little about me – positions I have held, organisations where I have worked, my education, etc. has this information easily to hand. I don’t include a complete and detailed CV but if someone wants to know something about my professional profile, it provides a way in. For instance, I have signed up to be a mentor at Kent as a way to actively demonstrate my support for this initiative led by our Learning and Development team and have also had the privilege to take part in the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) new Aurora women’s leadership programme as a role model. Providing connections with my LinkedIn profile ensures that those who are interested can see something about my experience and background before deciding if a mentor/mentee relationship or further contact might be worth exploring further.

I use LinkedIn to learn about other professionals as well. For instance, I have looked at profiles of speakers who come to our University as well as learning about potential contractors and services suppliers. However, while I am a member of a number of LinkedIn groups (including the ODHE LinkedIn group), I have yet to engage with these very actively. With groups, I believe at least one person needs to take the lead in experimenting with and helping to moderate discussion topics and at least a small group need to commit to actively engaging in discussions. This could be a longer term goal. In the meantime, I will continue to check in on LinkedIn semi-regularly and see where the tool might lead over time.

Have you found an effective way to engage with LinkedIn – particularly through the use of discussion groups? If so, do share your insights with all of us so we can continue to learn together.

Cindy Vallance, Head of Organisational Development, University of Kent

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