I’ve been on LinkedIn for quite a while now. I originally joined because a former employee/colleague/friend that I liked and respected sent me an invite (over 6 years ago). I’d never heard of LinkedIn prior to that, but after checking it out a bit, I thought sure, why not. I thought it was probably just one of those fad sites that pop up and then disappear every so often, but if it kept me in touch with my friend then it would be worth a try . I filled in my profile information and didn’t do much else with it for a number of years except for accept the occasional invite. I think I started to realize the power of LinkedIn as a social network when I started getting invites and having conversations with former colleagues that I hadn’t heard from for over 15 years. It started to become a way that I could keep in touch with these people, with my oldest contact now being with someone I worked with back in 1984, and hadn’t heard from for many, many years. It’s great because I can get a view of their lives by following where they’ve worked, where they’ve lived, and sometimes quite a bit more information based on what they have on their profiles. And I’m guessing that they probably do the same with me.
LinkedIn has also become a point of contact for colleagues who I’ve known recently, and on a number of occasions I’ve used it to help some of these people advance their careers, which gives me great satisfaction. Recently, I had a friend and colleague who moved to India, and he was up for a big promotion at the company where he worked. He was able to contact me through LinkedIn and arrange for an endorsement from me as a former supervisor. It worked out that he was able to arrange an interview between me and his new boss, which ended up in him getting the job. So through the use of LinkedIn I was able to help someone that I really wanted to help.