LinkedIn for DVoices. Good or Bad?

Gentlemen... and so far we are only gentlemen... I present to you LinkedIn.

I would like to see all the members of DVoices join in, but I would in no way be disappointed if you felt as Groucho did. Let me explain what LinkedIn is, as I understand it, and what it's not.

What It's Not:
  • It's not Amway. I don't get points for getting you to join, there's no Kool-Aid, I don't get any kind of discounts for bringing in new members and I don't get a free iPod if you try out more than one service they offer.
  • It's not going to require any kind of payment just to get in. If you guys don't know already, I'm cheap. I'm not a cheap date, that's for sure. I would be the guy, however, who'd let you order steak and a ceaser salad, and since we'd be splitting that, I'll just have the bread and some water, please. There are tiers of service available in LinkedIn, but I've not found anything I can't do with the basic, free service that I've wanted yet. There may be some restrictions on introductions down the line of your contacts... but I'm not there yet.
  • It's not a marketing clearinghouse's wet dream. According to LinkedIn's privacy policy, they don't sell on addresses to marketers. As a member of LinkedIn, you also have right of first refusal when people try to contact you. You can restrict levels of information that show up on your web-viewable profile, and you can restrict a lot of other viewable items as well. I'm pretty sure you can shut down all kinds of other views, but those choices do seem to be determined by your tier of membership.
  • It's not PodCaster specific. I've found a bunch of PodCasters on LinkedIn, no question. I was invited by a fellow PodCaster to join in. I've also found a bunch of people with whom I've worked, consultants who've worked with me in the past, some people I went to school with and some friends who work in their own industries.

What it is.
  • It's a way to keep in touch with former work colleagues. I email back and forth with people, and talk about general stuff. With this tool, I can find out what they're doing. Maybe they just jumped companies. Maybe they just got a promotion. Maybe they just started their own consulting firm.
  • It's a way to find out who my contacts know.I discovered that a guy I know, who moved to Phoenix, has a friend who's a technical writer for one of the papers on the East Coast. This is the biggie for me. Excuse the analogy, but one man's trash is another man's treasure. Sure, you know that guy who's the editor of that magazine, because he's a friend of yours from College. It didn't occur to you that you should let your other friends know, because he's just a guy you know. Would it interest you to know, then, that as PodCasters who fall into our specific group, we're fighting for recognition within our own congregations that we're doing something of worth, and that we'd love to have a story written about us and the work we're doing? LinkedIn gives me the chance to ask you to introduce him to me, if you think I'm worthy, and let me ask him that question directly. Just sit quietly for a second and think on that.

I'm sure Aron has his own network of musicians and technicians. I'm pretty sure that they're online as well, but I don't know. Michael has probably got an online network of publishers and authors, as well. Mark has got his business network of suppliers and purchasing agents. Some, or most, of the people who are on one networking site, are on more than one. LinkedIn seems to be a good place to coordinate our different business and social networks.

I'm not saying LinkedIn is the answer. In fact, if you've got a networking process that works better, let me know. I ($(*&% at keeping track of all of my business contacts, and what they do, and who they work for... I'm just bad at it.

Anyway, everybody... let me know what you think. If you'd like to try it out, let me know, and I'll invite you in as a contact of mine.

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