How promiscuous should you be on Linkedin?

Social networking is a massive and amazing phenomenon of our times. The statistics are staggering with about 100 major services. Friendster has 47 million members, hi5 has 50 million, MySpace a massive 192 million and even the upmarket Facebook has 34 million. And for business folks there is Linkedin. I was told about this at the beginning of this year (a lifetime ago in the social networking world) by a new media consultant friend and so eventually joined. Since then it has pretty much doubled in size, currently to over 13 million members.

For business networking it is like a golfclub, multiplied by several thousand. You can put your CV up on your profile, or not, it is up to you (I have). You very quickly build a series of links to people you know, people they know (2nd degree) and people they know (3rd degree). You can then use these links to find jobs, people and business opportunities. You can use the search tools to re connect with former business associates and schoolmates which is very useful. Most of the members are senior executives, MBA graduates etc as per the intentions of the site. But the games industry seems to have hijacked it and everybody has joined, from QA to CEO. Just type your company into the People search and you will be suprised who is in.

Linkedin members seem to either be very conservative and gradually build a group of people they know well or they are totally promiscuous and just link like crazy on the basis of that is what it is there for. Some say that it is Pokemon for grownups. Being a contrarian I went for a mixed approach. I could have ticked the box of every Codemasters person current or past, but didn’t. On the other hand I did connect to some super linkers to get the maximum connections. So my current statistics are 1st degree 204, 2nd degree over quarter of a million and third degree over 4 million. So I am connected to about a third of everyone on Linkedin, you can find my page here and if you want to link to me please do.

Some people are amazingly promiscuous, Ron Bates has over 34,000 first degree links!! So if you link to him it gives you a massive network in one go. A list of the most promiscuous can be found here and just linking to a few will quickly get you past 3 million total links. However after that you get diminishing returns as they are all circle linked to each other. There is a feature you can use when you become a paid up member of Linkedin called OpenLink Network which allows for a much higher level of promiscuity. People who are in this will link to anyone and usually have their email address in their profile (I have) so you can link to them as an “other” . Once you have this you can use the people search intelligently to find and link to people you don’t know. Tick the OpenLink only box in the search, ask for the results to be in number of connections order and put Computer Games as the industry. This will give you a list of the most promiscuous linkers in our industry. Link to a few of these and a few other similar searches and you will very quickly be linked to pretty much the whole industry!! Obviously if you are linked to me you can link to the OpenLink members on my list without having to become a paid up member!

 Something like this is very useful for the recruiters but the way it is structured keeps them pretty much out of your hair and, lets face it, if they are any good at their job they already have your phone number!

So if you have any views on Linked in why not share them by replying here?