Recently, Rory Cellan-Jones dismissed business social networking tools such as LinkedIn as suitable only for those facing unemployment. Sorry, Rory, you have missed the point. LinkedIn is a great place for employed adults to ask questions and (start to) discuss ideas in any one of the thousands of business-related interest groups. Universities and professional bodies have set up interest groups both there and on the less-structured Ning but there is no need to confine your learning to the ‘academic’ spaces on these sites, there is literally a world of expertise out there and some of it is deliberately set up to be inter-company (e.g. Chartered Accountants – India which has stated aims to share knowledge among the qualified and to help students).
On LinkedIn, all you need to do is post a clearly phrased short question and wait for the responses which may include being referred to an expert. As an intelligent adult with a range of interests, you may also be able to answer questions then, from the subsequent replies, refine your knowledge and become ever more expert in a range of topics.
The potential of LinkedIn as a learning tool is also recognised by learning professional organisations. The British Institute of Learning and Development and the Centre for Recording Achievement both run learning discussion groups there.
As ever, if you are now encouraged to add social networking tools to your learning resources, be cautious about your own, personal, contact group. It is not necessary to add everyone in an interest group to your personal contacts and it is probably both safer and more time efficient to keep close business contacts and general sector or short-term learning contacts separate.