LinkedIn, the world’s largest social network for professionals, filed for an IPO this week. The move has made it the no-doubt most talked about technology company and the Wall Street Journal even referred to its shares as “America’s sweetheart tech stock.”

Many people find it hard to categorize LinkedIn because it’s unlike other social networks. It’s not Facebook, which people use to share personal information, to be sure. LinkedIn encourages people to build profiles limited to information about their professional lives only, and share the profiles by connecting to business contacts. Perhaps the most helpful use of LinkedIn is when a user is looking for a new job, and can use the site to market him or herself to potential employers and contacts who may refer them for jobs. But professionals also use LinkedIn to connect for their current company’s benefit. To identify appropriate contacts to forge partnerships.

So for a network admin, how do you think about LinkedIn? It’s not particularly bandwidth intensive, so it likely won’t slow your network. Do you feel compelled to restrict access during the workday because it’s a productivity inhibitor? Or do you see it as a business tool your users should be able to use freely?

We took a look at visits to LinkedIn during a one work-week period in May, Monday through Friday, in the United States, and the results were surprisingly consistent. (Time zones were normalized.) Overwhelmingly people visit LinkedIn the most between 8 am and 4 pm, with a dramatic decline during non-working hours.

There are several ways to interpret this data, but one thing is clear: people use LinkedIn during the workday. And almost exclusively during the workday. My expectation was that the numbers would point to more evening usage – folks spending non-work time polishing up their profiles and making connections, but that is clearly not the case. Next week we’ll take a look at Facebook visits and compare LinkedIn with Facebook. Perhaps some patterns will emerge…

For now you can better understand LinkedIn usage on your network during the workday by visiting your OpenDNS dashboard and checking for the site among your top domains.

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