Networking for grown-ups

I’d been thinking of posting this ever since this discussion of whether Facebook is of any real use to people seeking academic jobs. Free lance Michelle Goodman contributed what she calls “A Luddite’s Guide to LinkedIn.” It provides, in essence, a forum for a LinkedIn spokesperson to tell us how they wish users would make use of their website.

I’m not sure how the writer defines Luddite, as the first tip in the article relies on an undefined webbie abbreviation: “Boost your profile’s SEO.” I had to look it up; it’s search engine optimization. Imagine my not knowing that.

I registered at LinkedIn shortly after it got started, when I was in the work force, but then let the account lapse for several years while in grad school. I’ve taken it up again recently. There are academics in the LinkedIn network, but the site was designed with corporate professionals in mind, so its conceptual model of academics is one of “education industry professionals.” If you can stomach that, the site’s tools may be worth experimenting with.

LinkedIn was of some small use as I prepared to go to Europe to do research. My profile includes a recommendation of my teaching skills from a former adult student of mine. (You can screen incoming recommendations, so no one may damn you with faint praise without your consent.) I was able to give a shout-out to a shareware programmer in Italy whose work I’ve appreciated. These kinds of work-oriented connections come in many varieties, and LinkedIn is designed to promote such connections and make them easier. Well, that and to make money for the proprietors.

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