LinkedIn is the hot web site of 2007, getting lots of press and growing fast, fueled by a new infusion of investment capital and a big promotional push. Here’s a few articles to give you more details: Red Herring, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Business Week, and a long blog entry from well-known venture capitalist (and former Apple evangelist) Guy Kawasaki.

A free membership (by invitation only) plugs you into a business networking tool – a way to connect with present and former colleagues, find out who they’re connected to, and discover new relationships a step or two away. Most people use it to make a sale, form a partnership, or get a job.

The membership is upscale – lots of executives from Fortune 500 companies, some celebrities and high-level lawyers and politicians, lots of consultants and investors. There are almost nine million members now (although that’s inflated in the usual way – it includes people who checked out the service once or twice and never came back); the average age is reportedly 39 and the average income of a LinkedIn user is $139,000/year.

All the important information for your LinkedIn profile will be in listed in your job experience and education. LinkedIn can be used for social networking, like MySpace for grownups, but nobody cares what a LinkedIn page looks like – there’s no checkboxes for cute backgrounds and pictures of bunnies. LinkedIn can be used for job searches, not only competing directly with and CraigsList and CareerBuilder, but also assisting professionals looking for opportunities closer to the top of the executive ladder.

Like many startup web sites, LinkedIn is rolling out new services at a rapid clip, watching to see which ones seem popular. There’s a place for posting answers to other users’ questions, both to be helpful and to gain credibility; there will be a service to assist in locating an expert and facilitate paid conversations, with LinkedIn getting a share of the fee. It’s expanding internationally. The goal, of course, is to become one of the web’s ubiquitous brand names with such an overwhelming presence for business networking that competitors fail or are discouraged from entering.

This is getting enough buzz that anyone in business may want to check it out – especially if you have any involvement with large companies or businesses in big cities. It’s not a site for casual browsing but it might open up a connection that you didn’t know you had. (If any of my clients are curious, drop me a note if you want an “invitation” to sign up for free.)

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