This week marked a big milestone for LinkedIn. They apparently have just added an extra digit to their membership base, hitting the 100 million member mark after eight years in operation. And thanks to a nice auto-generated note I received earlier today from LinkedIn’s founder, Reid Hoffman, I learned that I was the 302,155th person to actually join the site once it launched. I knew I was an early adopter of the system, but had no idea I was THAT early to the party…
At any rate, given this vast pool of professional brainpower that now frequents the LinkedIn site on a daily basis, I can’t resist putting in a fresh new plug for a relatively old feature of the system — the “Answers” page. I’m still amazed how few LinkedIn users, including many of my clients, realize the Answers feature exists. Fewer, still, seem to have ever gotten around to using it. It’s an amazing resource, however, that can offer profound benefits to professionals of all stripes — especially those going through career transition.
Essentially, for those not familiar with it, the Answers page of LinkedIn (available under the “More” menu at the top of the screen) allows you to log in and ask any question under the sun — at which point your question gets posted publicly in the Answers page where other members of the site have a week to review and comment on it. The sky’s the limit. You can ask the most perplexing questions you’re wrestling with in terms of job hunting, resume-writing, or interviewing issues. You can inquire about the best ways to break into various new occupational fields or about the educational credentials most valued today in certain industries. You can ask about how to overcome issues like age discrimination or prolonged gaps in your work history. And if and when you do so, I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the number of smart, highly-credentialed people who take time out of their day to provide you with detailed advice in response to your query — simply out of the goodness of their heart and a desire to help.
Case in point? I recently had a woman come to me asking whether I could somehow assist her former math professor, a man who lives in Russia and is seeking to emigrate to a job in the United States. This issue, I informed her, was a bit out of my league and something I didn’t have much familiarity with. I offered, however, to post a question on LinkedIn Answers to see if anybody out there might have some relevant suggestions. She said yes, so I threw the question out there a little over a week ago. Within hours some terrific responses started rolling in. Read the thread here if you want to see the Q&A thread that resulted and some of the advice that came my way from other site members, all of whom I wrote back personally to thank.
As for some other career-related questions swirling around the Answers page right now? Try these on for size, just to get a taste of how this part of the site works and the value it offers:
Is there value to going to local network clubs for job seekers?
Are you noticing a changing landscape for job seekers with the improving economy?
How do you answer the dreaded question “What are your salary requirements?”
What do you do if you want to change professions?
How valuable is an MBA Degree?
How should do characterize your unemployment status on LinkedIn?
These are just a few of the many open questions in the Careers & Education category right now. The list goes on. And what’s more, you can access thousands of additional relevant Q&A topics related to just about any conceivable employment issue, as well as dozens of other business categories, if you simply go to the “Advanced Answers Search” page of the site and browse around a bit.
Overall, next to the personal contact referral functionality of LinkedIn, I think the Answers page is hands-down the most useful benefit the site offers. So my hope is that more and more of you will think of it when you’re wrestling with tough questions and need to gain additional perspective on various topics. With 100 million people now comprising the LinkedIn universe, you’ve got an amazing, highly responsive knowledge base on your hands. Don’t hesitate to tap into it!