A primer on the social network LinkedIn and an introduction to Windmill Networking.
LinkedIn is a popular social networking site used mainly to establish professional connections and explore career opportunities and advancement. With 50 million users, it has far fewer members than other services like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter–but, as Schaffer notes, â€œLinkedIn is by far the biggest social networking site that caters to the professional demographic.” After returning from years working abroad in Asia, Schaffer became a â€œheavy LinkedIn user,” which helped him expand his â€œreal and virtual networks.” In so doing, he developed the concept of â€œWindmill Networking,” which involves building up networks of trusted connections, helping others out and reaping the rewards of these connections and favors. The book is a catalog of the basic and advanced functionalities of the LinkedIn network and an explication of–and recruitment tool for–the Windmill Networking technique. Schaffer’s exhaustive guidebook covers everything from self-branding and establishing connections to joining groups and updating one’s status. At nearly 400 pages, The Windmill Networking Approach is so encyclopedic that only the most devoted LinkedIn users will benefit from all of the information it contains (new users might be scared off by the tome’s girth). But the real problem, which the author acknowledges in his preface, is that a book–a static source–can never coevolve at the same speed as the social network it is written about. Furthermore, Schaffer’s advice, when accompanied by caveats like â€œif my memory is not mistaken” or â€œI have yet to confirm this,” hardly inspires supreme confidence. Ultimately, the book suffers from an identity crisis–is it a business networking book (replete with terms like â€œTrusted Network of Advisors” or admonishments to â€œDig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty”) or a book about making the most of a social network? It succeeds more in the latter, but the depth of detail renders it all but inaccessible to most casual users. Newcomers to LinkedIn might be better off exploring the site independently.
For heavy LinkedIn users–or those who aspire to be–only.