LinkedIn: Do You Need It?

LinkedIn is not Facebook; neither is it Twitter or Google+. It’s funny, I thought everyone knew about LinkedIn, but they don’t. In fact, when I decided to finally engage in the network, I sent invitations to my Gmail contacts. Friends and colleagues of all ages contacted me by phone and email asking what LinkedIn is all about. So, while it’s not news to everyone, Linked In is still a mystery to some. The question is, do you need it?

Your time is precious. For goodness’ sake, you’re a doctor, a business owner, and you may also be a parent and spouse. Fiddling around with online networks can be a serious time waster – and you have no time to waste. I’ve told you what LinkedIn is not; let me tell you what it is.

A Forum for Virtual B2B Networking: Remember those horrid B2B breakfasts and luncheons in stuffy hotel rooms? With LinkedIn, there are no more awkward conversations with a pest control professional dressed in a suit. There’s no need to hide from that real estate leach who manages to steal all of your time at networking events. Networking online means that you can talk to who you want to and not talk to everyone else, and no one feels weird about it. If you want or need to communicate with professionals, in and out of the dental industry, LinkedIn may be a good investment of your time. For instance, do you want to know more about dental sleep medicine? Join the related group and start chatting with members.

A Place for Professional Idea Sharing: Every group has a talker who says blah, blah, blah and has no facts or evidence to back up any opinions. That said, the groups on LinkedIn can be a good place to share ideas, information, research, and opinions. Some groups are private, so an admin has to approve your membership, while others are public. I’m in 22 groups, including Dental Economics, Dental Marketing, and Dentist Network. I can initiate posts – like questions or a news story – and I can also comment on posts. Some groups are full of vultures. If you find yourself being attacked, just opt out of the group.

A Place to Recommend Professionals You Trust: One cool feature on LinkedIn is that you can recommend people you’ve worked with and ask for recommendations from your colleagues and clients.

A News Source (by category): Every day, I go to my news page on LinkedIn and look at my health and technology feeds. From the stories there, I select items to post on Twitter and Facebook. This makes posting to my other social forums easy as pie.