I believe that the arguments against LinkedIn are valid IF you simply view LinkedIn as a way to receive jobs offers. Remember the argument in behalf of Microsoft’s Version Control program vs. Subversion as seen in another Coding Horror article? It’s the same here: If you simply measure LinkedIn’s usefulness on the basis of number of job offers, it’s useless.
I really only use it for managing good contacts. I don’t spam invitations to every person whose names I happen to recognized from a previous job or from a random class I took in college, but use it as a form of contact management.
Manager Tools, an excellent source for articles and podcasts for effective managers has a podcast related to preparation in case of a layoff. In the podcast, it is suggested that one should have at least 100 contacts on paper and that they need to up to date. How difficult would this be to actually have something like this on paper. Moreover, this contact list needs to be in a NEUTRAL place or at home, and not on a work computer. Anyone who has worked for a larger corporation or for any technology-related company and has been laid off knows that you are often escorted back to your desk after being laid off and that often times you are not even allowed to touch your computer (bye bye valuable Outlook address book). LinkedIn become that perfect list you always have with you with up-to-date names, contacts, etc.
I have a Facebook account but rarely use it. So many around do and play and do who knows what on there but I guess, I’ve just failed at being a Facebooker. I don’t have time to use it, play games on it, tag photos, setup photo galleries, take quizzes, etc. and frankly, I just don’t want to do that.
LinkedIn is a perfect place where I can connect with previous people who I have worked with, or who I studies with in school but that I frankly have no need to share games, quizzes, or pictures with. I simply want to know what they’re up to and want them to know what I’m doing. If they are looking for someone with my background, then they can see my profile. I know that if I am hiring someone for a specific position, I would favor the one who I have known and interacted in the past over a candidate with the same background but of whom I know little or nothing at all.
Overall, the value of LinkedIn is not the number of good job offers you receive, it’s the value of the information you make available for your contacts to see and the value of having up-to-date contacts in the business world and those contacts not just being limited to individuals in your company or field.