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In the hip world of social media, LinkedIn sometimes feels like John Hodgman's PC in the Mac vs. PC ads. It's Facebook in khakis. As hip as business casual. Unlike other social media sites, you can't upload photos, you can't post videos, and you can't trick out your page. Of course, this can also be seen as its biggest strength.

For a while, LinkedIn was little more than a tool to post your resume online. Sure, some head hunters became power users and leveraged the network, but for most of us, it was just about accepting or rejecting plaintive missives that read:

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

- Your ex-employee / One-time vendor / College dormmate / Random Dude

Recently, however, I have been getting more into LinkedIn because of Answers and Groups. Answers allows you to ask questions or answer other people's questions in your area of authority. (Hopefully.) You can learn and help others while establishing your expertise and connecting with other people.

Groups is another tool that won't set the Web 2.0 world on fire, but is a nice addition. You can join an established group or create your own. Groups can be alumni associations, or be geographically oriented, or be between members who share a religious or political affiliation. As a group moderator you can control who gets to join your group as well. 

The Groups come with discussion forums you can enable, and more recently a News feature where members can post news stories or articles for group discussion. Which is a hell of a lot like discussion forums, but with an upload feature.

If you've been using LinkedIn on autopilot for a while, it may be time to jump back in. Ask a question, or check out the Groups Directory to see if there are other professionals who live in your area or share your concern about sustainable business practices. And if one doesn't exist, create it.

Rich Brooks
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