Monday night I had a great hour-long phone conversation with my friend AngieDawn, a former Memphian who moved to Santa Monica in 2004 to get her MBA. It seems that we’re experiencing a lot of the same challenges when it comes to business/careers/life, and I’ll be writing more about our phone conversation in future posts.

But right now, I wanted to share something Angie told me about that may be of interest to some of you – a networking website called LinkedIn.

In 2004, I was a member of a business networking group that met at the Arcade every Thursday for breakfast. The idea was, we’d learn about each other’s businesses, and then as we were out doing our thing through the week we’d look for opportunities to refer business to our group members. You need help with QuickBooks? Well, let me introduce you to my friend Ed – here’s his card. You and your family are thinking about buying a house – have you talked to a mortgage broker yet? You should meet my friend Chris. That kind of thing.

Well, around that time I took a look at Friendster online. In case you’re not familiar with Friendster, you join, tell Friendster who your friends are, and then you can meet your friends’ friends and their friends and so on, up to 4 levels deep. Most people who are big into Friendster use it to find new people to hang out with, or to date. It’s less scary to meet people when they come with the recommendation of someone you know, I guess. I never really got into Friendster. But, I thought, what if someone took that concept and used it for business networking – a virtual version of my group that met on Thursdays?

Well, that’s what LinkedIn is. You join up, you form a network of people you know, and then you can ask to be made aware of job opportunities, business deals, etc. that they know about, or that friends of friends know about. My friend Angie writes,

It’s great that you joined LinkedIn – it is super popular in most of the country – on the east coast and the west coast. A lot of people use it to get jobs… and it works because of the referral features. It has been SO disappointing to me that Memphians haven’t been partaking in the fun… especially since I consider many Memphians to be entrepreneurial.

So if you’re looking to network professionally, get a new job, or meet new potential customers for your business, you should check out LinkedIn and consider joining (it’s free to join). If you do, please search for me (paul at paulryburn dot com) once you’re a member and let’s be a part of each other’s network.