If you spend 30 minutes each week for the next year and ask one question and answer two to three questions and then decide to connect with 1.5 people each week (or about 20% of the people you would be interacting with) you will have 50 to 75 new connections. Even if these folks don’t have your answer….they likely know someone who does. This saves you from long and drawn out and occassionally ackward options provided by low-end networking in the real world.
The beauty of Linked in is that you can link up with people with both complementary and common interests and passions. Also, it allows you to network with people outside your geography, so someone in web application can connect with people in New York, Austin, and San Fransisco. How cool is that?
The forums both in terms of the groups and the linked in answers option are the ideal water cooler to ask and share ideas. What are you reading recently….what resources to check out…..and who to connect with.
Its important to point out that Linked in isn’t about gathering friends any more than networking is about gathering business cards. It does point to the ability to create a simple system that allows you to connect with thought leaders and even potential business associates. I think its an ideal social network for entrepreneurs, visionaries, and small business owners.