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05/10/2006 - par Mark Tungate

For me, this was the week of LinkedIn. Yesterday evening I met a friend at a café, and almost the first thing she said was, « Are you on LinkedIn ? » Coincidence : only two days previously, some­body had invited me to join this rapidly growing ­career networking site.

LinkedIn is MySpace for adults. It's particularly useful if you are self-employed, or looking for a new job. The site was started by Reid Hoffman, who previously ran online payment service PayPal. He based LinkedIn on the theory that 50 % of all job offers come from people you know, or their contacts. LinkedIn works because somebody has to invite you to join it. Then you have access to that person's contacts, and their contacts' contacts, and so on. And they have access to yours. It's a bit like exchanging electronic business cards.

Meanwhile, on your own area of LinkedIn you can create your profile, with your CV and notes on your experience. You can ask colleagues or clients to recommend you as a talented worker. That way, your name will pop up when a potential employer is searching the site for somebody with your profile. In the tough world of work, any advantage helps - which explains why LinkedIn now has 7 million registered users.

I joined as an experiment, and my profile is skeletal. But effective social networking takes time. I suspect some people use it as an alternative to TV. And the problem with being a journalist is that you often spend more time writing about life than living it.

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