What is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a social networking site for, as Fortune Magazine put it, "professional matchmaking."[1]
On LinkedIn, users can create profiles based on "their professional affiliation[s] and connect to professional contacts." [2]

Overview of LinkedIn

History of LinkedIn

Reid Hoffman founded LinkedIn in 2003 (he was only 37 at the time), but he had already achieved Silicon Valley success as a founding board member and executive VP of PayPal, a major investor in Facebook, and a supporter / founder of many other tech companies. Hoffman's own varied career and wide-range of connections was his first inspiration for LinkedIn; " 'I realized that everyone will have their professional identity online so they can be discoverable for the things that will be important to them...the obvious one is jobs, but it's not just jobs. It's also clients and services. It's people looking to trade tips on how you do, say, debt financing in the new capital markets.'"[3] Four of Hoffman's colleagues invested with him in LinkedIn, which was initially located in Hoffman's home. Because of Facebook's growing popularity, LinkedIn was slow to catch on, so Hoffman recruited, amongst others, an executive from Yahoo, Jeff Weiner, to be CEO, and Dipchand Nishar, formerly of Google, to serve as VP of products. Under innovative leadership, LinkedIn has risen from an innocuous social network to a powerhouse in the business world.[4]

LinkedIn Today

Statistics

Estimated Market Value: $1 billion
Sources of Revenue:One-third of LinkedIn is funded by premium member subscriptions, one-third by advertising (i.e. banners), and one-third from corporations purchasing recruiting rites[5]

Demographics

Average member: College-educated, 43-years old; salary: $103,000. One quarter of members are senior executives.[6]
Fastest Growing Geographic Region: Brazil[7]
Membership: 85 million (as of December 2010)[8]
Employees: 900 (as of December 2010; LinkedIn began 2010 with 500 employees)[9]

Why Should I Be on LinkedIn Instead of Another App?

Can Virtual Connections Really Overpower Traditional Connections?

Of course, the hope of LinkedIn members--and the pitch of LinkedIn--is that the network will dwarf traditional connections in job markets, many of them exclusionary, and level the playing field. A recent investigation into the issue revealed that, while LinkedIn may override the power of groups like the freemasons, Rotary International, Opus Dei (in Spain, Italy, France, and Latin America), the FreeMasons, and guangxi (China), they can also help reinforce them, providing another venue for the well-connected to bestow preferential treatment on those members of the in-group. Many of these groups are filled by men, whereas LinkedIn is two-fifths women, further suggesting that LinkedIn may not dismantle exclusionary groups, but provide an alternative venue for those not accepted by them.[10]
LinkedIn is a site that allows professionals and soon-to-be professionals to network with other professionals in their field. As such, it’s a crucial tool for people to be acquainted with in this day and age, when 85% of employers use LinkedIn profiles to perform background checks on potential employees.[11] Using LinkedIn will help get your name out there – it will create visibility for you or your business. A profile will get “your name, Website and profile to the top of search engines”.[12] Another reason to use LinkedIn is that it allows you to put your resume, and credentials, online, thus making them easier to access. LinkedIn will allow you to create headlines, summaries, describe your experience, specialties, honors and awards and interests, as well as list groups, associations and web sites. So, if all you want to do is “promote what you did this past weekend, or let people know that you like to ski or surf, use Facebook”,[13] but if you want to promote business and professional connections, then LinkedIn is the best site for you to use.
How is LinkedIn Different Than Facebook?
On the one hand, Facebook is available to the general public. Facebook profiles are accessible to anyone; however, because access and user control on Facebook are so complex, Facebook is a space that is used primarily for social interaction. While access and user control are more complex on Facebook, the site will often times open its architecture “to third parties, thus jeopardizing user privacy”.[14] Additionally, Facebook has several applications (generated by users) that LinkedIn does not. The ability for users to create applications draws in a large number of users, as does Facebook’s photo-sharing ability.
On the other hand, LinkedIn, although available to the general public, tends to be used more frequently by professionals or soon-to-be professionals (typically students). LinkedIn users maintain and create connections with people they trust who are in their area of work. LinkedIn users create connections with other users, and much of the real-world etiquette seen in business is used online – meaning that networking and introductions are used much the same way on the site as they are in the real worlds. According to Papacharissi, LinkedIn uses a “gated-access approach, meaning that connecting with others requires either a pre-existing relationship or the intervention of a mutual contact” (204). This gated-access approach is meant to engender a sense of trust among users of LinkedIn; more importantly, it sets it apart from Facebook, as no pre-existing connections or third-party interventions are needed to send a friend request. And, like Facebook, LinkedIn does allow users to post photos; however, the photos posted to LinkedIn are typically “professionally oriented, ID badge-type photographs”.[15]
Irina Slutsky observed in Advertising Age, "Facebook is about kegs and keg stands...LinkedIn is about office water-coolers."[16] LinkedIn has integrated some features that mimic popular social applications, for example, a "share" function (similar to Facebook status updates) and LinkedIn groups (similar to Facebook groups). But CEO Jeff Weiner insists that LinkedIn will continue to distinguish itself as a professional application; "people aren't there to share their social lives with each other," he affirmed.[17] So far, it seems that LinkedIn users agree.







Who are LinkedIn's Competitors?

In the United States, LinkedIn is the most popular comprehensive "work application" of its kind, but in Europe and Canada, other professional networks compete for LinkedIn's market share. Despite LinkedIn's attempts to campaign for members in France, Germany--" 'we have the most elite, international, and aspiring people'," notes LinkedIn Europe head Kevin Eyres, as he referenced the likes of Bill Gates, a LinkedIn member[18] --it simply is not competing with France's Viadeo or Germany's Xing. The reason is simple--European's networked working professionals don't want to make connections to Bill Gates; they want to connect with the firm down the street, the HR manager they know through a client, the firm for which their former colleague now works. "Having local depth is better than signing up a narrow slice of the highest powered-people around the world," Dan Serfaty, founder of Viadeo, observed[19] ; even though Viadeo's service charges its members--an amount of $7.50 a month in 2009--subscribers are willing to pay for the valued service of professional connection (Thus, Viadeo is funded primarily by members--although the company does offer a limited free membership now; LinkedIn mostly generates its revenue from human-resources departments paying for its premium service and advertisers).







In 2009, Viadeo purchased Unyk, a Canadian networking site similar to LinkedIn, increasing its influence in North America; Viadeo also owns the Tianji, the most influential professional network in China. LinkedIn is currently the most prevalent social professional network in the United States. Certainly, professionals who aim to work in international markest would be wise to build connections on the premiere professional networks that dominate the region in which they aim to establish themselves.















How does LinkedIn Affect the Corporate World?

Benefit: More Cost-Effective Recruiting

From a corporate perspective, LinkedIn specializes in finding what is called "passive candidates," that is, currently employed professionals whose talents and expertise are desired by other companies. Typically, the recruiting industry expends an average of eight billion dollars "headhunting" passive candidates for major companies; LinkedIn significantly reduces that cost (and threatens the livelihood of professional recruiters). Recruiting firms like Heidrick and Struggles have diversified to make LinkedIn one of their most dynamic tools, instead of deciding to compete with the social network in what surely would be an uneven battle.[20]













Concern: Productivity

Though LinkedIn is growing astronomically, concerns for traditional "good deportment" in companies, and, more seriously, legal concerns, have caused some companies to view LinkedIn and other professional social networks warily. Some companies and organizations still embrace a no-tolerance policy toward all social network applications, citing potential lowered productivity.













Concern: Legal Issues

One of LinkedIn's chief features is its "Recommendations" function. Though "recommendations" don't replace the role of formal references, they offer employers a helpful portrait of a potential employee's abilities. Further, "Recommendations" are a central aspect of achieving LinkedIn's moniker of "100% Completeness" (see "10 Things" below). Anyone can give a LinkedIn "Recommendation": current / former bosses, co-workers, clientele. However, what happens in the case of an employee who is laid off, but has on his / her profile a glowing "Recommendation" from the boss who did the firing? FIRNA (Financial Regulatory Authority Inc.), prohibits employees of its member firms from offering LinkedIn "Recommendations." Other firms, like Warner Brothers, restrict their employees' LinkedIn "Recommendations" to personal testimonials that do not reference the recommender's position at Warner Bros. Inc. Still, " 'We counsel people to use a great deal of deliberation' " before completing a LinkedIn "Recommendation," says Todd Davis, executive director of Warner Bros. worldwide recruitment.[21]






Benefit: Better Business Interactions

Aaron Barrett, an online business strategist at Woodward Communications, said that LinkedIn transforms the way he conducts transactions. In a recent email, he gave glowing reviews of LinkedIn's ability to optimize his professional endeavors:





"One of my favorite ways to utilize LinkedIn is after you meet with someone for the first time. Usually you send an email or a card to thank them for their time, but now I encourage our sales staff to send a LinkedIn invite along with a thank you message. It’s a great way to show you’re looking to be business partners and not just wanting them to buy something. Sending a hand written note is still a great follow up so often times we do both, but the instant connection from LinkedIn is a powerful tool that keeps your name in front prospective buyers for a long time.
It’s also been a help in staying in touch with people without being pushy. For example, a marketing director at a company we’ve been trying to get business from recently had her title switched to a more web related title that was similar to mine. We noticed this because her LinkedIn profile was updated. Because this isn’t a very common title yet we reached out to see if she would be interested in getting together to talk about some of the mutual problems we face and she became very receptive to the idea. It was finally the opening we needed to make her feel like we weren’t just looking for her money but were interested in creating a partnership, hopefully it leads to more money for us but at the very least it’s a great connection with another high level contact in the advertising industry.
Lastly, LinkedIn has been very effective in terms of research and finding experts in certain fields. At my last job I was in charge of new business development and had gotten us the ability to pitch a major yacht manufacturer. Unfortunately we had never worked with a client in this field and really had to start from scratch. We used LinkedIn to get connected with a sales expert in the field by just sending him a message and telling him what our situation was. He was really friendly and let us pick his brain free of charge. I also joined a group on LinkedIn full of Yacht dealers and Marina owners. (Groups can get really specific on LinkedIn and it’s an awesome way to share ideas with people you’d of never connected with.) From that group I really learned a lot about the problems that the people who buy from the manufacturers are facing and was able to bring some really positive ideas back to our prospect that I’d of never gotten had I not gotten to be a part of this group on LinkedIn.[22]













What Can I Do With LinkedIn

Profiles

Certainly, forging your profile should be one of your chief concerns when you become a LinkedIn member. The profile is the equivalent of your professional online identity; just as you would put much thought into assembling a portfolio of your work and selecting a professional appearance in preparation for an in-person interview, so likewise, you should bring that same level of consideration to your profile--and just as you would update your professional portfolio or your "go to" interview outfit, make sure you update this profile regularly, too!










Applications

Since LinkedIn began open source sharing, popular web applications have partnered with LinkedIn in droves, taking the network to a whole new level. LinkedIn members can now connect their activity with applications like Twitter, WordPress, and Amazon's Reading List. The best way to acclimate yourself to LinkedIn's wide range of application opportunities is to spend some time, as a LinkedIn member, at the LinkedIn Learning Center. Under "site features," select "applications," where you will be able to view a host of helpful video tutorials, many narrated by the application's creators, on how various applications can enhance your LinkedIn experience. Here are five apps to get you started:












  1. Amazon Reading List: share your professional reading with connections who share career interests. Demonstrate your writing dexterity via book reviews.
  2. SixApart Blog Link: no matter what blog host you prefer, link easily to your professional blog, so that your connections can appreciate your abilities.
  3. Huddle Workspaces / Google Presentations: collaborate on work projects from a variety of sites using these open app tools.
  4. LinkedIn Polls: conduct research by polling your connections; discover what "real" people in your targeted field have to say about hot topics.
  5. Company Buzz: follow Tweets on your company (or on companies you'd like to partner with).



Groups

Groups are the "water cooler" function of LinkedIn, allowing you to discuss up-and-coming issues in the professional fields that matter to you. LinkedIn allows you to join groups according to industry (i.e., "technical editing,") or shared interests (i.e. "Women C.E.O.s); the global navigation bar on your profile page has a linked called "groups," from which you can search by key word to find a group that's right for you. Like many social applications (for example, Yahoo Groups), LinkedIn's groups require you to ask for membership. Once you join, you can pose questions to the group, follow updates on group members, and participate in group-related discussions. The discussions are the "heart" of the group (much like the water cooler metaphor); discussions can be rated and shared, and the members who participate most often receive "influential" ratings. Groups are also an effective way to create more connections.


There's an App...for that App...


On March 10, 2011, LinkedIn launched its own news service – LinkedIn Today. This application allows users to view a combination of the day’s biggest/most-viewed stories – in that user’s particular field. Essentially, LinkedIn Today is a “social news service that aggregates the top headlines and stories related to your industry” (Burnham 1).The senior product manager at LinkedIn, Liz Reaves Walker, hopes that LinkedIn Today will become users’ go-to source for news in their industry. More than that, she hopes that LinkedIn Today will keep users coming back to the site with more frequency.LinkedIn Today will be featured on users’ home page, and it will tell users how many people in their network have viewed the story, and “in which industries it’s [the story] trending” (Burnham 1). Lastly, to make LinkedIn Today more accessible, there’s also an app for the iPhone.[23]









Tips for New Users







  1. Use LinkedIn to research your "dream profession": scan profiles to see what people who do what you want to do are saying about themselves, reading, and doing.
  2. Watch the video tutorials: you simply won't be able to anticipate the depth of functions the LinkedIn website offers (you'll find the videos under "More" on the global navigation menu; from there, select "Learning Center.")
  3. Attend a free webinar--they're held weekly on Wednesdays at 1:00 CST (this information, too, is found in the "Learning Center," under "Tutorials.")
  4. Earn LinkedIn's designation as "100% complete" by obtaining at least 20 contacts, 3 recommendations, and completing your educational history, your job history for current and last two positions, your profile summary, and your specialties.
  5. "Write a compelling profile." [34]
  6. Write your LinkedIn Summary as a story, not as a dry professional profile, as one might see on a resume [35]
  7. Give LinkedIn the go-ahead to pull connections from your address book: they won't "spam" them.
  8. Research the "apps" in the Learning Center: determine which apps best fit your needs, and connect them to your profile!
  9. Follow your company and / or companies you would like to work with.
  10. If your company doesn't have a LinkedIn profile yet, offer to create and maintain one; this is a great way to practice your technical writing skills as well as demonstrate your initiative. It will also provide important PR for your company.

Tips for Optimum Use









  1. Limit LinkedIn connections to colleagues--this is professional. [23]
  2. Make connections: don't cold "call" for jobs. Joanne Molina, editor of Interiors Magazine, noted she often hires writers she meets on LinkedIn--but only ones introduced to her through a common link. [24]
  3. Search geographically for contacts as well as by professional field. [25]
  4. "Follow" the companies whose work you're interested in, whose field (or office!) you'd like to work in one day. Follow your own company, so that you have an "inside" (outside?) scoop on their needs, desires, and activities. [26]
  5. Have an interview? Do your homework: research them on LinkedIn before the face-to-face. [27]
  6. Continue actively making connections; the more exponentially you are connected, the greater likelihood you'll stumble upon career opportunities that you hadn't even anticipated.
  7. Post a photo: whether or not it's fair, a lack of a photo makes people wonder; the presence of a nicely-selected, professional photograph can set viewers at ease. [28]
  8. Don't choose "high privacy" settings. You want to be searchable, and if you've crafted a professional persona (as opposed to a social one) you should have as much to hide here as you would on the work history section of your resume. [29]
  9. Join groups--they're a great way to conduct professional research, keep up-to-date on developments in your field, hear about job opportunities, and expand your connections. [30]

LinkedIn Tips for Writers

  1. Clearly advertise your writerly interests. Patti Verbanas, lifestyle editor at New Jersey Life magazine, said she hires freelance writers by searching their interests on LinkedIn, then hiring those whose interests match a potenital story. [31]
  2. Create a well-rounded profile. Can you speak another language? Do you love horses? These types of seemingly unimportant details might be just the type of thing editors are looking for when developing specific feature stories[32]
  3. Use LinkedIn Groups and polls to conduct research / ask questions for projects [33]

How do I Join LinkedIn?

Joining LinkedIn is as simple as visiting the LinkedIn home page and signing up for a new user account. Then the fun begins!
  1. ^ Hempel, Jessi. "How LinkedIn Will Fire Up Your Career." Fortune 161.5 (2010): 74-82. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr 2011.
  2. ^ Papacharissi, Zizi. "The Virtual Geographies of Social Networks: a Comparative Analysis of Facebook, LinkedIn and ASmallWorld." New Media & Society. 11 (2009): 199-220. Web. 4 Apr 2011.
  3. ^ Hempel, Jessi. "How LinkedIn Will Fire Up Your Career." Fortune 161.5 (2010): 74-82. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr 2011..
  4. ^ Hempel, Jessi. "How LinkedIn Will Fire Up Your Career." Fortune 161.5 (2010): 74-82. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr 2011.
  5. ^ Hempel, Jessi. "How LinkedIn Will Fire Up Your Career." Fortune 161.5 (2010): 74-82. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr 2011.
  6. ^ Hempel, Jessi. "How LinkedIn Will Fire Up Your Career." Fortune 161.5 (2010): 74-82. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr 2011.
  7. ^ Slutsky, Irina. "Why LinkedIn is the Social Network that Will Never Die." Advertising Age 81:43 (2010): 22-23. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr. 2011.
  8. ^ Slutsky, Irina. "Why LinkedIn is the Social Network that Will Never Die." Advertising Age 81:43 (2010): 22-23. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr. 2011.
  9. ^ Slutsky, Irina. "Why LinkedIn is the Social Network that Will Never Die." Advertising Age 81:43 (2010): 22-23. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr. 2011.
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    "Joining the Club: Network Websites are Booming, but They Have Not Supplanted More Traditional Networks." The Economist. 25 Jun. 2009. Web. 9 Apr. 2011.
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    Scott, Gini Graham. Top Secrets for Using LinkedIn to Promote Your Business or Yourself. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. 2010. Electronic Book.
  12. ^ Scott, Gini Graham. Top Secrets for Using LinkedIn to Promote Your Business or Yourself. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. 2010. Electronic Book.
  13. ^ Scott, Gini Graham. Top Secrets for Using LinkedIn to Promote Your Business or Yourself. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. 2010. Electronic Book.
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    Papacharissi, Zizi. "The Virtual Geographies of Social Networks: a Comparative Analysis of Facebook, LinkedIn and ASmallWorld." New Media & Society. 11 (2009): 199-220. Web. 4 Apr 2011.
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    Papacharissi, Zizi. "The Virtual Geographies of Social Networks: a Comparative Analysis of Facebook, LinkedIn and ASmallWorld." New Media & Society. 11 (2009): 199-220. Web. 4 Apr 2011.
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    Slutsky, Irina. "Why LinkedIn is the Social Network that Will Never Die." Advertising Age 81:43 (2010): 22-23. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr. 2011.
  17. ^ Slutsky, Irina. "Why LinkedIn is the Social Network that Will Never Die." Advertising Age 81:43 (2010): 22-23. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr. 2011.
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    "Class War." //Economist// 393.8658 (2009): 66-67. //Academic Search Premier//. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr. 2011.
  19. ^ "Class War." //Economist// 393.8658 (2009): 66-67. //Academic Search Premier//. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr. 2011.
  20. ^ Hempel, Jessi. "How LinkedIn Will Fire Up Your Career." Fortune 161.5 (2010): 74-82. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr 2011.
  21. ^ Frauenheim, Ed. "Linked In Referral Policies Could Raise Legal Rift". //Workforce Management// 90:2 (2011): 21-22. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 3 Apr 2011.
  22. ^


    //
    Barrett, Aaron. "Re: LinkedIn." Message to the author. March 24 2011.
  23. ^ Burnham, Kristin. “LinkedIn Today: Tour What this Service can do for You.” CIO, 10 March 2011. Web. 10 April, 2011.