21st Century Chain Letter

Web 2.0 personal networking web site communities, I say. LinkedIn, that is. Following my spectacular blog debut, I figured I could only top that by following the crowd over to the trough of schmooze juice. I only denigrate because I love.

Man, I remember when SixDegrees.com got people to rat out all their friends and contacts back in the nineties. It was a rough time to be around. Nobody saw the point to these things besides giving out your information to people who wanted to make money off of you. Now, they're big business.

LinkedIn is probably the most professionally oriented, and in some professions/geographies it's become necessary for finding a new job. I'm not looking right now, but browsing its listings for technical writer positions found me better job leads than I've had in some time.

While it seems that joining a site like this decreases your privacy (Your relationship information is now known and you are cross-indexed to others. The site actually makes shockingly accurate guesses about who else you might know in its database.), its features actually seek to protect your privacy (at least from other individuals). You can restrict your contact information and force people to contact you through the site. Further, you an restrict the kinds of contact you want to receive.

If you're looking for a way to promote your professional services online without exposing yourself to marketing and other solicitations, I don't know of a better way. Furthermore, if you need to contact somebody you don't know, and you don't want your email to send up in that person's spam bucket, you can use LinkedIn to maybe discover a common contact who can vouch for you.

We'll see how I feel about it in the long run. Right now I wish I'd joined it six months ago.

2007.10.10 at 12:00am EDT