I've been a LinkedIn member for a pretty long time. People use LinkedIn in different ways. Some are trying to amass the largest possible network (i.e. the most "connections"). Others are simply using it as a search tool to find opportunities.
My general practice has been to limit the size of my network in order to keep the signal to noise ratio pretty high. As such, I only connect to people that I know personally or have had some personal or professional dealings with.
One aspect of LinkedIn that I think is underused is their concept of groups. Basically, a group is a sub-network within LinkedIn for a specific area of interest. For example, I'm a member of several groups, including several affiliated with MIT (where I was a graduate student last year).
Several months ago, a number of members of the OnStartups community asked if I might setup a group that could be used by entrepreneurs to network and connect with each other. I thought it was a good idea, and put in the request. After a bit of back and forth with LinkedIn, the group is now setup.
So, why would you want to join the OnStartups LinkedIn group?
5 Great Reasons To Join The OnStartups LinkedIn Group
1. Find other people in your area interested in startups (even if you live in the middle of nowhere).
2. See if you can locate a co-founder for your maniacally brilliant startup idea.
3. Recruit unsuspecting victims to join your startup team
4. Locate a promising startup to join and try your hand at this whole entrepreneurship thing.
5. Find funding for your current startup so you don't have to beg and plead with your friends and family.
Of course, you may find your own creative uses as well (such as using it as a gauge for the level of entrepreneurial activity in a given area).
So, how do you join the OnStartups LinkedIn group? It's easy (and free). Simply register for an account here at OnStartups.com. This will give you access to the OnStartups forums where there is a link in the announcements area to join the group. This is the preferred way (and I'll immediate approve members that use this mechanism).
Another option is to submit a request directly to join the group by clicking the link below:
Of course, the value of the group increases with the number of passionate startup people that join. So, if you are a member of digg, reddit or other social networking sites, please help spread the word by voting on this article on those sites. If you have ideas or comments on how we might use the group more effectively, please leave a comment.