We last saw our intrepid Web 2.0 adventurer about to delve back into the depths of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is old school, one of the oldest business social networks, and it's not about virtual martinis or superwalls or how many movies you have in common -- it's all about the networking.


I will admit it's been a while since I've been there -- probably since the last time I was looking for a job, which seems to be one of the major use cases for LinkedIn. The principle activity of LinkedIn, aside from the meta-activity of increasing the size of your personal network, is the Introduction -- asking your network to hand your referral from person to person until you reach the object of your affections -- Bill Clinton, a hiring manager, a prospect. I've never sent or received one of these invitations, but I do know folks that have gotten plenty of job inquiries from the site. My profile on LinkedIn is here, and no, I'm not looking for a job.


Spurred on by the current social networking frenzy, they are adding features like a Q&A section and beefier profiles.  Here's Bernard Lunn of Read/Write Web on how he recently used LinkedIn and his perception of its business value vs Facebook's.


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After logging in and taking care of some pending connection requests, I joined Alessandro Perilli's virtualization.info Vanguards Group (not to be confused with VMware's Virtual Vanguard Awards).


After only a month and with a single announcement, Alessandro has assembled 383 virtualization professionals from across the globe. Not bad! So why do you want to be there, even if you're not looking for a job?


A wide cross-section of the virtualization industry. There are vendors (from VMware and Microsoft on out), consultants of all stripes, very experienced sysadmins and IT experts, and quite a few names you may recognize from communities.vmware.com.


You can see and contact everybody in the Group. The contact piece is configurable on a per-group and per-person basis, but Vanguards is set up by default so that we can all contact each other. Interested in finding a virtualization consultant in Norway? Looking for a contact at a vendor -- either the executive or the engineering kind? Want to compare notes with someone else in your industry? You can probably make that happen here with a quick search.


You won't be spammed. Now, since this is a business network, many people have something to pitch, so LinkedIn groups are not built for spam. In a LinkedIn Group you can contact individuals, but nobody in the Group can globally spam everybody in the group with a pitch for their latest virtualization management appliance.


LinkedIn is still very much a business-to-business network, and so what a Group can do there is still very buttoned-down and oriented at making business contacts -- LinkedIn doesn't actually offer much more to do with Groups yet. I suspect that we'll see other functionality soon: for instance, you can ask a Question to your network and the LinkedIn community at large, but I'd love to see questions just from the virtualization.info Vanguards Group. Although the Groups feature on LinkedIn is at least two years old, they've only recently opened up and become easier to create.  


So you can't go wrong adding the virtualization.info Vanguards Group on LinkedIn to your professional online presence. I think since we have such a vibrant community here, I'm not going to start up a LinkedIn group specifically for VMware, but let me know if you have other good ideas.