A LinkedIn member’s profile page, which emphasizes skills, employment history and education, has professional network news feeds and a limited number of customizable modules. Basic membership for LinkedIn is free. Network members are called “connections.” Unlike other free social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn requires connections to have a pre-existing relationship.
With basic membership, a member can only establish connections with someone he has worked with, knows professionally (online or offline) or has gone to school with. Connections up to three degrees away (see six degrees of separation) are seen as part of the member’s network, but the member is not allowed to contact them through LinkedIn without an introduction. Premium subscriptions can be purchased to provide members with better access to contacts in the LinkedIn database.
LinkedIn was co-founded by Reid Hoffman, a former Executive Vice President in charge of business and corporate development for PayPal. The site, which was launched in May 2003, currently has over 300 million members from 200 countries, representing 170 industries. According to Reid Hoffman, 27 percent of LinkedIn subscribers are recruiters.
LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. Whether you’re a marketing executive at a major company, a business owner who runs a small local shop or even a first year college student looking to explore future career options, LinkedIn is for anybody and everybody who’s interested in taking their professional lives seriously by finding new opportunities to grow their careers and to connect with other professionals.
It’s sort of like a traditional networking event where you go and meet other professionals in person, talk a little bit about what you do and exchange business cards. On LinkedIn, however, you add “connections” similarly to how you’d make a friend request on Facebook, you converse via private message (or available contact information) and you have all of your professional experience and achievements laid out in a neatly organized profile to show off to other users.
LinkedIn’s Main Features
Here are some of the basic features that this business network offers and how they’ve been designed to be used by professionals.
Profile: Your profile shows your name, your photo, your location, your occupation and more right at the top. Below that, you have the ability to customize various different sections like a short summary, work experience, education and other sections similarly to how you might create a traditional resume or CV.
My Network: Here you’ll find a list of all the professionals you’re currently connected with on LinkedIn. If you hover your mouse over this option in the top menu, you’ll also be able to see a number of other options that will allow you to add contacts, find people you may know and find alumni.
Jobs: All sorts of jobs listings are posted on LinkedIn everyday by employers, and LinkedIn will recommend specific jobs to you based on your current information, including your location and optional job preferences that you can fill out to get better-tailored job listings.
Interests: In addition to your connections with professionals, you can follow certain interests on LinkedIn as well. These include company pages, groups according to location or interest, LinkedIn’s SlideShare platform for slideshow publishing and LinkedIn’s Lynda platform for educational purposes.
Messages: When you want to start a conversation with another professional, you can do so by sending them a private message through LinkedIn. You can also add attachments, include photos and more.
Notifications: Like other social networks, LinkedIn has a notification feature that lets you know when you’ve been endorsed by someone, invited to join something or welcomed to check out a post you might be interested in.
Pending Invitations: When other professionals invite you to connect with them on LinkedIn, you’ll receive an invitation that you’ll have to approve.
These are the main features you’ll first notice when you get on LinkedIn, but you can dive deeper into some of the more specialized details and options by exploring the platform yourself. You may eventually be interested in using LinkedIn’s Business Services, which allow users to post jobs, take advantage of talent solutions, advertise on the platform and expand your sales strategy to include social sales on LinkedIn.