Librarians & LinkedIn
As a relative newbie to the LIS world, I have to admit that I've been shocked at how many librarians are not on LinkedIn. I would think this kind of network that encourages professional discourse and networking would be something that librarians would love, but there are a lot of posts on blogs (see here and here for example) by librarians who aren't entirely excited by the prospects of LinkedIn for professional development. Ok sure, the user interface and lack of personal galleries on LinkedIn make it less interesting or visually pleasing than Facebook, as the Free Range Librarian writes - and yes, it's very serious, not silly. And yes, as Librarian by Day states, it's very easy to manipulate the information you list on your profile despite existing recommendations for specific positions (her example is that she changed her position title to the "Princess of Georgia."). Of course, you could also put a ludicrous title on your resume with the only means of verification being a phone call to the prior employer. I'm sure many people are guilty of this AND of over-exaggerating their duties and responsibilities to try to get a job. So with full acknowledgment of only two examples of reasons librarians don't like LinkedIn, I want to present some of the reasons that I think LinkedIn is incredibly helpful for any kind of professional, librarians included:
- Many institutions and companies look for candidates by searching LinkedIn. I have been contacted at least 5 times regarding legitimate job opportunities because of my LinkedIn profile, which is (according to LinkedIn) 100% complete. Specific reasons that I have been contacted included special skills and expertise in certain industries, with certain tasks or educational background.
- Some companies recruit via LinkedIn exclusively and request that candidates have at least a few recommendations on their profile. Generally if you recommend someone, they'll extend the same favor so soliciting at least a few recommendations is not difficult.
- I have been contacted by recruiters (both friends and acquaintances) looking for people with certain skill sets, who they thought I might know because of past expertise. The more active you and your contacts are on the network, the more chances you will have to promote them and yourself.
- LinkedIn can mask your other social presences: If you want to protect your personal privacy from your employer or professional contacts, you can even use a pseudonym on Facebook or other social networks and your real name on Linkedin. I don't think a pseudonym or an omission in your name is in your favor on LinkedIn however - with the exception of privacy settings that mask your full name to people not in your network - if you want to use LinkedIn to establish yourself as a professional with experience, you'll need to say who you are.
- As someone who used to work in business development, LinkedIn was a great tool for finding people in large companies who might not otherwise be reachable. This is true for librarians too - it's a potential place to locate peers, vendors, employers and information professionals.
- Using existing connections to connect to new contacts is also a great opportunity - but use this wisely. Someone you know well might be willing and able to make an introduction - someone you added just because you met them once at a conference might not be so willing to extend the olive branch.
Of course you have to be careful about what you put up and acknowledge that once information is public on the Internet, it may slip out of your control. But if you behave professionally on LinkedIn, I don't see any reason NOT to maintain your professional network there.
I accept any and all LinkedIn invites: