For those of you who don’t know it, LinkedIn is a professional networking site which allows you connect with colleagues and past and present, and then into their networks.
The smart thing about it, is that it allows you to extend your network, by inviting people you’ve known to join yours. Whenever you accept, you get access to theirs, thereby increasing your circle of contacts considerably. Great if you are a natural networker. Fantastic if you are not! And in a world where today's colleague is tomorrow's client, it's more important than ever to keep your network alive.
You can write a personal profile, solicit recommendations or recommend others to people you know. The key thing is that LinkedIn only works by referral and recommendation. That’s why recruiters are increasingly using LinkedIn as a tool to find good candidates – getting on the trail of potential talent for their organisation.
A 2007 survey on online social networking showed that social networking sites such as LinkedIn are being used extensively by professionals. The survey, conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp – formerly HRI) revealed that 65% of business professionals are clicking and connecting via personal and professional social networking websites.
The most popular site in the survey by far was LinkedIn, a site aimed at business professionals, and the survey revealed that:
- Over half (55%) of those using the networks do so to share best practices with colleagues
- 49% use them to get answers to issues they are currently facing
- About half (52 %) of respondents whose organisations are using social networking sites do so to keep internal staff and remote employees connected
- 47 % of total respondents use the networks to connect with potential clients and to showcase their skills.
This highlights the potential of social networking tools to support work practices. The "Social Network Practitioner Consensus Survey" was conducted by i4cp, in conjunction with HR.com, in May 2007. A total of 323 organizations participated.
So, what's in it for learning?
How might you use LinkedIn or a similar technology for learning? We see it as a great tool to support communities of practice. Set up a network of people sharing common tasks. Add a Subject Matter Expert and make her or him the centre of a LinkedIn group, with whom others in the network can connect. Ensure that the group remains connected after a learning experience by sharing connections.
If you're responsible for induction or on-boarding in your organisation, why not invite new joiners to get on LinkedIn and share connections with each other before they arrive, and encourage people to start networking before day one?
Kineo have been on LinkedIn for a while now, and have over 5,000 elearning professionals and aficionados in our eLearning Professionals Group.
LinkedIn succeeds because of its simplicity with:
- Invites to potential members of your network with links embedded in email
- Clear visual indications of your network and how it extends
- Statistics of how far your network extends through second and third degrees of separation.
If you’d like to find out more about how networks and communities of practice can extend and support your learning programmes, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org