I'm not a fan of networking for networking's sake. I don't like trying to build relationships based on a desire to get ahead, but rather to make friends. That being said, LinkedIn has been a great resource to see what my friends have been doing professionally, and a great way to connect to friends that don't use other social networking platforms. It also is void of the dreaded games that have become a plague to Facebook (and why I don't look at facebook much if I can help it). Other than that, I haven't seen a lot of need to use LinkedIn, and it has become an infrequent visit beyond reading update emails.
But it's expanded, and in a very good way. Today I got an email from LinkedIn asking me to fill in some skills that I have. As I went through the skills that they had listed for one in my field, I realized that they were building a job-hunting filter for me based on skills in my now virtual resume. These skills were then linked to jobs that were posted by companies both within and without my circle of contacts. These are targeted leads on new positions, and that's a powerful lead for job seekers.
For instance, if I were looking for a job, I could go to all my contacts and tell them to foward anything on to me that they think I would be good at. The problem is, they all have a different view of what I can accomplish based on their personal relationship to me. So while their network may have a list of jobs available for which I would qualify, they are not aware of those jobs or aware of the qualifications that I have. So it's a fatal problem that personal networking can have. But with this method that LinkedIn has created, it allows me to find any jobs posted through the social networking site that caters to the qualifications I set. Therefore I see the jobs for which I am qualified, regardless of the experience my network contacts may have had with me in the past or present.
Let me be clear here, I'm not looking for a job! I'm quite happy working for the University of Utah, and see it as a great opportunity to build a great program here. But should I ever want a new job, it would make sense to use a more efficient method of searching, and LinkedIn provides that service. Of course it requires potential employers to use LinkedIn when posting jobs, but I think with this innovation LinkedIn has shown itself to be a very effective method to find qualified people, if not the most effective method.
So for all those out there looking for positions, have you considered looking through LinkedIn? If not, perhaps it's time you did.