LinkedIn® is a social network with a focus on professional networking, warm leads, and business referrals. While other social networks are geared toward the “social” side of interacting – including making friends and playing games – LinkedIn zeros in on the “networking” aspect and may help professionals connect with other professionals for jobs, collaborations, and other business opportunities.

While LinkedIn accounts may take longer to set up than other social networks, you can speed the data input time by having your actual professional résumé on hand.  LinkedIn profiles consist of many familiar résumé elements such as:

  • Your name, current job title and location. You can also choose an industry category
  • Current employment or work
  • Past employment or work.
  • Education

A LinkedIn profile also includes recommendations. Others can recommend your work and you can reciprocate.

Your list of connections can be accessible from your profile, or you can choose not to share them with your other connections.

You can customize your Public Profile URL such as: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yourname and include links to your Web sites and Twitter® account.

You can also compose a Summary where you can explain who you are and what you do. Your professional summary can also include a list of Specialties.

LinkedIn gives you the ability to add a photograph, which may give you a stronger and more positive first impression.

You can message your connections through status updates similar to Facebook® updates or tweets. You can also link your LinkedIn updates to your Twitter account.

Other basic features of LinkedIn include:

  • Starting or joining a LinkedIn group to communicate with like-minded individuals in a professional forum;
  • Finding or posting jobs or managing job listings;
  • Asking questions and getting answers, or giving answers to other people’s questions;
  • Listing and promoting events.

You can add additional connections to your account by tapping into the address books of your email accounts.  You can also identify new contacts by locating colleagues from past places of employment; by seeking out classmates from schools you’ve attended; and through people you may know based on whom the people on your connections list know.

While there is no charge for the basic LinkedIn service, several premium account levels are available for a fee.  They offer added benefits such as a Profile Organizer to save and manage profiles, and the ability to send and receive free, private OpenLink messages with other OpenLink premium members. Premium members can also have a greater number of pending introduction requests.

While many people may not need a networking site like LinkedIn, others have found it a valuable tool for increasing their connections with other business people.

 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.