For those out there who may not be familiar with LinkedIn’s “Answers” feature, it’s really one of the neatest things going on the Internet these days, at least in my humble opinion. The basic concept is that you think up just about any business- or career-related question under the sun that you’re dying to get some feedback and advice around — and then you post your question on the Answers portion of the LinkedIn site to see what 31 million other users of the system might have to say about it.
Over the years, I’ve used this resource with my clients to solicit input on a number of tricky “gray area” issues, ranging from complex salary negotiations to niche career research to whether or not a job candidate should disclose a pregnancy that’s only three months along. And in general, the advice that my clients have received back is incredibly valuable. Even if you don’t always agree with everything that everybody has to say, it’s very interesting to see the range of perspectives that are out there, and best of all you can weigh the “credibility” of each answer based on the background of the people providing it — since each response to your question is listed along with the author’s name, job title, and current employer. Post a resume-related question, for example, and within a day or two you’ll likely get a cross-section of useful advice from dozens of recruiters, career coaches, resume-writers, HR professionals, and functional hiring managers from around the country.
The impetus behind writing this post, however, wasn’t simply to toot the horn of this resource, since I suspect many of you out there are already somewhat familiar with it. My main reason for writing, instead, was to let you know (if you don’t already) that you can have LinkedIn monitor certain key categories of “Answers” that get posted and then have these questions/answers automatically sent to your e-mail inbox (or other places) for ongoing review.
Personally, I find that this is a terrific way to stay current in your field and expose yourself to a steady stream of new thoughts, perspectives, and ideas. For example, I’m set up to have any LinkedIn Q&A related to career issues automatically sent to my blog reading software each day, where I can review it at my leisure and harvest it for useful pearls of wisdom. Many of my readers out there, however, might want to also track information from the dozens of other “Answers” categories and subcategories that are available, ranging from Green Business to Franchising to Mobile Marketing to Organizational Development. It’s a lot cheaper than getting an advanced degree in these subjects, and honestly, at times I think the topics raised and answers given are SO incredibly current and on point, it can be equally as valuable!
So to build your own set of automatic LinkedIn Answers feeds, just visit the Answers portion of the LinkedIn site, use the category menu on the right side of the screen to find a category (or subcategory) that interests you, and then click on the “Subscribe to New Questions In…” button you’ll see on the right side of the screen, under the category menu. At that point, a list of common RSS Feed readers will come up (e.g. Yahoo, Bloglines, Google, etc.) that you can select — or you can just copy the default RSS link shown and configure it to deliver the information to your normal e-mail inbox, since most modern e-mail browsers (including Outlook 2007) allow this functionality.
If you’re totally new to RSS feeds and how to use them, of course, you might have to search for the word “RSS” in the Help menu of your e-mail system for assistance, but all in all it shouldn’t take you more than a minute or two to get things configured properly — and to steer this valuable info to a place where you can review it, each day!