LinkedIn is the largest online professional network, with more than 434 million members worldwide in December 2015 and over two new members joining every second. The popularity of this site suggests that professionals perceive benefits from participating, yet there is relatively little published research on the ways that LinkedIn is being used in business.

In part to address this knowledge gap, while also exploring ideas for how to use LinkedIn more effectively in our management consultancy business, we conducted a simple convenience survey of my own LinkedIn contacts in Nov. 2011, which focused on two questions:

1. What do you find most useful about LinkedIn and connecting with your network of contacts?
2. What “communities of passion” or groups interest you the most?

We received 567 replies with substantive answers to these questions, many of which also included additional thoughts and comments about LinkedIn. Although not statistically representative of all LinkedIn users, the respondents comprised of a large, diverse sample of professional people representing a range of backgrounds and age groups, mostly based in Canada. The survey has provided interesting and valuable insights into the way that a diverse sample of professional people are using this popular social networking site and their thoughts about its value, which are expected to be of interest to other consultants.