Sites that cater to business relationships can connect people, too. Part referral service, part virtual water cooler, part corporate headhunter, dozens of sites like LinkedIn and Jobster let professionals mingle online and do their networking over the Internet instead of—or alongside—conferences, conventions, and corporate retreats.
Recruiting Online, a company that offers Web-based courses for human-resource staffers and recruiters, has a list of social and professional networking sites at www.recruiting-online.com/course53d.html.
This site (www.linkedin.com) has more than five million registered users who work in 130 industries. Using LinkedIn is not unlike using an online dating site, except your profile lists your professional accomplishments and work history instead of your hair color and preference for chocolate chip ice cream.
Joining LinkedIn is free, but you can upgrade your account to a paid version that offers more features (described below). During the initial sign-up process, the site asks you about your current job (if you have one) and where you went to college. After you complete your registration, LinkedIn scans its database for other members who work at the same company or went to the same school during the years you attended, giving you an instant set of potential contacts, or connections, to use LinkedIn's lingo.
If someone already in LinkedIn sent you an invitation to join the site (Figure 17-4), you come in as a "trusted ...