The new thing in career ‘connections’ is LinkedIn.com, the website that allows you to add colleagues and former classmates to your own personal network, for the purpose of furthering your career and opening new avenues through the people you already know. On the face of it, LinkedIn seems kind of neat–you can list all the people you work with as ‘Connections,’ create a network of people you ‘trust’ as business contacts, and even track down old classmates to see if you have a better job than they do. There’s also one other thing: you can write recommendations for your connections, which will appear in their profile after they approve them. In other words, people can comment on the quality of your work, and you can then choose whether or not to let that appear in your profile. Not surprisingly, there are quite a few glowing recommendations out there, and little to no criticism.
This raises the question in my mind as to whether or not LinkedIn truly goes beyond the level of mere facebook-style messaging and casual communication to become a vehicle for business, and not just social, networking. Admittedly, it is fun to see how many people consider you their colleague, not to mention how many people are willing to scratch your back with a positive recommendation, fully aware that the favor could be quickly and easily returned, and if the product is unsatisfactory, blocked from public view. However, I can’t imagine that prospective employers or anyone that doesn’t know the individual personally would take any useful information from this site, as it’s so heavily slanted in favor of member control over reviews and recommendations.