I have been a member of LinkedIn since July of 2011. I have to admit, when I first started an account I was skeptical, as I tend to be whenever there is hype over a social media tool (I was an early convert to Facebook, but that’s only because my trusted tech guru friend was raving about it).
Since then, I have been happy to see more people in my realm creating professional profiles on the site, and a lot more buzz about the usefulness of this site in the media. I have found that it is a great tool for keeping in touch with former employers, colleagues, and professors. Not only that, but it is a great way to keep your resume organized and simultaneously available to employers.
One of my favorite features is how people you have worked with can recommend you on the site and leave comments about your skills. You can also follow specific groups and organizations relevant to your field. I follow the American Alliance of Museums, Emerging Museum Professionals, and New York City Museum Educators Roundtable. Though I also subscribe to their emails, the additional connection through LinkedIn helps in building relationships with individuals, and it gives prospective employers a chance to peruse your resume at their leisure.
While I still highly value actual physical interaction when networking, I do think that tools such as LinkedIn are very practical today. I know that with my schedule it is impossible to attend every networking event I wish to, or spend time catching up with former colleagues in person. However, I still like to keep informed about all events – even those I have to miss, and LinkedIn helps with that.
As I forge closer to my graduation from Bank Street I anticipate that I will be spending more time using LinkedIn as I search for a job. There is a specific alumni group that I plan on joining to maintain connections. For now, of course, there is a Bank Street page that anyone can follow, where there are discussion boards for jobs and other topics.