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LinkedIn Helping Professional Networking at Etz Chayim.

This group is intended to allow the members of Congregation Etz Chayim of Palo Alto, California to build community, stay in contact, develop and foster professional networking relationships. Membership is restricted to current and past congregational members or affiliated persons only.  For more information, review the article below which also appears periodically in Connections  or contact linkedingroup@etzchayim.org or join the LinkedIn group directly at   https://www.linkedin.com/groups/2347491/
 
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional internet-based networking site with over 40 million members and growing rapidly. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals. You've heard of 'six degrees of separation' where you know people who know people, etc.  LinkedIn mirrors this real world connection tree (up to 4 levels) and allows you to expand your professional contacts.   With hundreds of families at Etz Chayim, it is hard to find others within the temple that can help you out with your professional networking needs like finding a job, hiring the right employee or getting advice or an answer to a problem at work that others may have encountered.  Although asking the rabbi for help in making connections is always acceptable (after all Ari  knows everyone),  LinkedIn facilitates this activity using internet technologies.  Note that dozens of temples all over the country are now leveraging LinkedIn to augment their many ways of building community within their congregation.

Many of our fellow temple members have been negatively impacted by the recent economic downturn just as during the dot-com downturn. One way of making yourself available to others this time around is to join the LinkedIn group.  In this way, members in need can more easily find others in the congregation, based on your LinkedIn profile, that can help with professional introductions, a job at your company or other networking needs.

So let's talk about LinkedIn profiles which gives you the keys to controlling your online identity. Have you Googled yourself lately? You never know what may come up.   LinkedIn profiles are based on your professional attributes, not whether you like romantic movies, bowling or are single or married and looking for a friend.   LinkedIn profiles are your online resume and gives you a lot of control as to how much of that resume shows in and out of  your "network".     In today’s professional world, people change jobs and locations constantly. By connecting on LinkedIn, your address book will never go out of date. Your contacts update their profiles, keeping you current with their latest jobs, projects and contact info.  There wouldn't be chatter about personal stuff. You’ll stay in closer contact with great tools to communicate and collaborate. Whether you’re looking for a career opportunity, winning new clients or building your professional reputation, LinkedIn connects you to jobs, sales leads and ideal business partners. With their powerful search engine, company research tools and a jobs board that shows who you know at listed companies,  LinkedIn is the place to turn for new opportunities.   Sometimes your immediate circle can’t resolve a unique business challenge. Tools like Answers and Groups let you locate and interact with experts through trusted introductions.  

The particular feature of LinkedIn we have been discussing is called "groups".  Groups expand your professional network of connections through affinity relationships, with all group members being alumni of a school or coworkers of a company or a temple.   Groups managers can have messages sent to all group members, discussion areas set up or lists of job postings, etc.   What we have set up is a LinkedIn group for Etz Chayim so that members can join and have a network relationship with other LinkedIn subscribers from Etz Chayim.    You must be a LinkedIn member to join the group.  It's free and easy to be a LinkedIn member at the basic level.    Direct requests  to be connected to other LinkedIn members can be controlled  by settings in your profile or  accepted or rejected on a case by case basis.   Belonging to the group does not imply a direct LinkedIn connection to any group member. You can connect later if your professional relationship to another Etz group member rises to that level with continued interaction.

Unlike other open systems, membership in this group is restricted to current and past members of the congregation and affiliated staff  (like teachers  or administration).    The group within LinkedIn is entitled "Etz Chayim of Palo Alto Professional Networking Havurah", the web address is:   https://www.linkedin.com/groups/2347491/

As a LinkedIn member, you have control over what groups are displayed in your profile to others not in the same group.   

Facebook is another popular social networking site, but it serves a different problem domain than LinkedIn and therefore the kinds of information that is common in profiles on Facebook are quite different than you find on LinkedIn.   More importantly, the criteria for making a direct connection (friend in Facebook terms) is different between the two system.    Each system can be used to their own strength. One does not replace the other.  There is also a Facebook group available and it is open to non-Etz members to join.  The Facebook group concept and usage is and has been quite different under their social networking model used to connect to others relative to temple functions and other social networking events.

For those familiar with LinkedIn, this Etz group allows you another way to connect with your fellow congregants with a focus on professional networking.  In summary, participation is entirely voluntary, but joining this virtual havurah enables us with a way to get and receive work related help from others in our community.  Many other temples are using the LinkedIn system in this same way.