What is LinkedIn? Whether you’re starting out in your career, want to grow an established specialism or even looking for work, LinkedIn can be a one-stop place to network with fellow professionals.

However, this is only really scratching the surface of what LinkedIn offers. Indeed, LinkedIn is essentially one of the biggest publishing platforms the world has ever seen. Even better, it is one of the most effective, as users specifically seek content relating to their industry.

This makes LinkedIn an incredibly powerful B2B sales and marketing tool.

Think about it. Where else can you publish content and be confident that it’s exactly what users actually want to read? Unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn users are specifically interested in how your business can add value to their lives.

It’s essentially like shooting fish in a barrel.

What is LinkedIn header image

Understanding the basics of this professional networking platform, which has hundreds of millions of users across the globe, can be the first step towards leveraging its benefits.

How? Let’s take a closer look.

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LinkedIn is an incredible resource for job seekers and professionals alike. Image credit: Greg Bulla

What is LinkedIn Used For?

When you’re starting a new profession or reigniting an old one, you’ll have a lot of questions other people in the profession could help with. This is where LinkedIn comes in as it professionals from around the world to connect with one another and share information.

The platform allows users to connect with one another regardless of location. LinkedIn’s premise reminds us of the business adage that you don’t have to know every piece of specialised knowledge as long as you know someone who does.

By connecting with other professionals, you also gain some limited access to the individuals that they know. This web of connections greatly enhances your professional network. This is very helpful when you want to get an introduction to someone in your niche.

LinkedIn’s mission is to foster these professional connections to create new avenues for workers around the world to be creative and encourage personal and professional growth.

By creating an area where connections can be made and fostering their growth, professionals can ultimately be more productive. The goal is that by providing a space where individuals can create a network and share information, so they will ultimately be more successful in their field.

Also, as networks grow, individuals in disparate fields will find that they have interests and expertise in common. This cross-pollination among professional fields creates many new opportunities for users that were not present before.

LinkedIn Features:

LinkedIn Groups:

LinkedIn Groups are online forums where individuals with similar interests or professional backgrounds can connect, share ideas, and exchange knowledge. These groups provide a valuable platform for:

  • Networking: Groups allow users to connect with like-minded professionals, expand their networks, and build meaningful relationships.
  • Knowledge Sharing: Groups facilitate the exchange of information, expertise, and industry insights among members.
  • Community Building: Groups foster a sense of community and belonging, providing a sense of camaraderie and support among professionals.

LinkedIn Plugins:

LinkedIn Plugins are widgets that can be embedded on websites or blogs to enhance their functionality and connect them to the LinkedIn platform. These plugins offer various benefits, including:

  • Profile Display: The Profile Display plugin allows websites to showcase LinkedIn profiles, providing valuable information about individuals or companies.
  • Company Follow Button: The Company Follow Button allows website visitors to follow a company’s LinkedIn page, staying updated on their news and activities.
  • Share Button: The Share Button enables users to share website content directly on LinkedIn, expanding the content’s reach and engagement.

LinkedIn Targeted Ads:

LinkedIn Targeted Ads allow businesses to reach specific audiences on the platform based on their professional profiles, interests, and demographics. These targeted ads offer several advantages, including:

  • Precise Targeting: Businesses can target their ads to highly relevant audiences, ensuring their message reaches the right people.
  • Enhanced Engagement: Targeted ads have a higher likelihood of engagement, as they are tailored to the interests and needs of the audience.
  • Measurable Results: Businesses can track the performance of their targeted ads, making data-driven decisions to optimize their campaigns.

LinkedIn Company Pages:

LinkedIn Company Pages serve as the official online presence for businesses on the platform. These pages provide a valuable platform for:

  • Brand Building: Company Pages allow businesses to establish their brand identity, showcase their products or services, and attract potential customers.
  • Talent Acquisition: Companies can utilize Company Pages to recruit top talent, post job openings, and connect with potential candidates.
  • Thought Leadership: Company Pages provide a platform to share industry insights, establish thought leadership, and engage with a wider audience.
Business Networking Sites (LinkedIn, Quibb , Plaxo, AngelList review)

The Role of Business Networking

In the past, networking opportunities were purely semi-social, physical events. These are designed to give professionals a relaxing space where they can get to know one another and share information about their work and potentially common professional goals.

Networking events are, of course, wonderful places to meet new people and share ideas but there is one major drawback. That is, some people thrive in physical networking scenarios, but others will merely come back to the office with a couple of business cards.

Chances are, they didn’t come back with much new information about the people they met.

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Traditionally, business networking was an in-person activity. Image credit: Dylan Gillis

How is LinkedIn Different?

This is one area where LinkedIn excels as, even if you are shy in social situations or feel uncomfortable putting yourself forward professionally, you can still connect with other industry workers online.

By removing the face-to-face element of networking, new professionals have the opportunities to develop relationships while they also develop their confidence.

Additionally, if you work in a very specific role, or live in a remote area, it’s unlikely that you’ll have many opportunities for in-person networking. LinkedIn overcomes both of these problems, by removing the need for physical proximity.

Of course, this is more important than ever in the age of distributed offices and remote working.

What is a LinkedIn Profile?

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Your LinkedIn photo is a kind of digital CV. Image credit:

When you join LinkedIn, you will need to create a profile. This is a page that tells people who you are, your professional background, membership of professional associations and work accomplishments.

In essence, it’s a snapshot of your work experiences and professional goals.

For job seekers, this can essentially be thought of as a digital CV. In fact, the goals are much the same. You’re seeking to advertise your skills and experience to potential employers in an exciting manner.

If you’re not seeking a new role, your LinkedIn profile plays a slightly different role. Essentially, this comes down to the fact that your goal is to find new business opportunities, rather than job opportunities.

In most cases, this means presenting you professional experience in terms of the value you can add to customers and clients, using language that they can understand as non-specialists.

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LinkedIn is a massive driver of social traffic. Image source: Foundation Inc

Tools to Help with Creating Your LinkedIn Profile

When you sign up for a LinkedIn account, you need to take time to work on your profile. Completely filling out your profile may be something that you want to come back to when you can devote a fair amount of time and thought to making the best of it.

For the best results, you need to fully complete your profile. This can take some time.
Most people find it somewhat difficult because you need to think about how you want to present yourself professionally, however there are helpful hints along the way.

For instance, the site will give tips for the best types of photographs to use for your profile photograph. These help make the process easier. It also ensures that you don’t miss including pertinent pieces of information.

How to Manage your LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile is a place where you can build and communicate your personal brand. It allows you greater flexibility to share information that a traditional resume does. This is why creating a powerful LinkedIn profile can take some time.

You’ll want to think about the types of information that you want to share. You’ll also need to consider the kinds of information that would be helpful to potential colleagues and future employers.

By sharing your particular personal brand, you can create many new opportunities for yourself.

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LinkedIn is a powerful way to find new professional opportunities. Image credit: Inlytics

A LinkedIn Profile is Not Static

Another facet of having a successful LinkedIn profile is that it is not static. That means that as you evolve and grow professionally, your LinkedIn profile should also grow to reflect this.

If you change positions or join a new association, you should consider including this information in your profile.

Even if your circumstances don’t change, it pays to update your LinkedIn profile on an ongoing basis. For example, you might constantly experiment with headlines to see what is most effective for conducting LinkedIn outreach.

Building your LinkedIn Network

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One of the best things about LinkedIn is the ability to make new professional connections. Image credit: Hivan Arvizu

When you create a LinkedIn account, you can import your professional contacts to create new connections within the platform. As you establish your network, you will be able to grow it as you meet new people through your work.

Connections must be made between two people who know each other or are connected through another individual. If you would like to connect with someone that you do not personally know but you do know someone who does, they can send a professional introduction.

The recipient is then free to decide whether they would like to connect or not.

Professional introductions can be helpful professionally. If the person who is introducing you is particularly well respected in the field, this lends some weight and credibility to your own professional reputation.

Professional Articles and Papers

Have you read something interesting lately that you think others might benefit from? In the LinkedIn feed, you can share articles with others in your network.

This also becomes an opportunity to share information about a recent article that you have written, upcoming training and professional development opportunities such as conferences or networking events.

Skills & Endorsements

As you develop your LinkedIn profile, you will be prompted to list a variety of skill areas. As you grow your network, new connections will be asked to confirm these skill areas. They may be skills you used when you worked or collaborated with your new connection.

This lends credence to your abilities in certain areas. For instance, on a resume, you may say that you are an accomplished public speaker but it has more meaning to a future employer to see other professionals confirming that, yes, you are a highly skilled public speaker.

What is LinkedIn InMail?

LinkedIn InMail on desktop and mobile
InMail is available across different devices. Image credit: TechCrunch

While LinkedIn is a great networking community and place to share information broadly, sometimes you need to connect directly with one of your connections. LinkedIn Mail, or InMail, allows you to easily do this.

While it is a convenient tool to communicate with others, it is important to remember that this is a professional environment so certain etiquette should be observed.

What is LinkedIn Premium?

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LinkedIn Premium introduces a range of additional features. Image credit: LinkedIn

LinkedIn offers free accounts for those just wanting a page. However, those who are job hunting or are in certain professions such as sales, may want more than what the free profile offers.

For those individuals, LinkedIn Premium is the answer. These are paid subscription accounts but they more fully leverage the LinkedIn network. As the paid subscription may not be for everyone, the platform gives users the opportunity to experience the difference between the two accounts with a free trial of the paid subscription.

This gives users the chance to decide what is best for them professionally.

LinkedIn’s adoption data by industry, region, roles, and age groups:

Industry Adoption

LinkedIn’s user base is distributed across a wide range of industries, with some sectors showing a higher adoption rate than others. According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Industry Report, the top five industries with the highest percentage of LinkedIn users are:

  1. Information Technology: 68%
  2. Financial Services: 67%
  3. Professional Services: 65%
  4. Consumer Goods: 64%
  5. Healthcare: 63%

These industries are characterized by a high level of professionalization and knowledge-sharing, making LinkedIn a valuable platform for networking, learning, and career advancement.

Regional Adoption

LinkedIn’s user base is also geographically diverse, with the platform having a strong presence in various regions around the world. According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Global Trends Report, the top five regions with the highest percentage of LinkedIn users are:

  1. North America: 59%
  2. Western Europe: 48%
  3. Asia Pacific: 36%
  4. Latin America: 32%
  5. Middle East and Africa: 27%

The high adoption rate in North America and Western Europe reflects the strong presence of multinational corporations and established professional networks in these regions.

Role-Based Adoption

LinkedIn’s user base is also segmented by job roles, with certain professions having a higher propensity for using the platform. According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Talent Trends Report, the top five job titles with the highest percentage of LinkedIn users are:

  1. Marketing and Sales Executives: 91%
  2. Business Development Professionals: 89%
  3. Human Resources Professionals: 88%
  4. Engineering and Technology Professionals: 87%
  5. Finance Professionals: 86%

These job roles often involve networking, building relationships, and staying up-to-date on industry trends, making LinkedIn an essential tool for professional success.

Age-Based Adoption

LinkedIn’s user base spans across different age groups, with the platform showing a strong adoption rate among younger professionals. According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Workforce Trends Report, the breakdown of LinkedIn users by age group is as follows:

  • 18-24: 62%
  • 25-34: 79%
  • 35-44: 83%
  • 45-54: 82%
  • 55-64: 78%

This data indicates that LinkedIn is increasingly becoming the go-to platform for younger professionals seeking to build their careers, connect with mentors, and stay informed about industry developments.

By understanding these adoption patterns, businesses and individuals can tailor their LinkedIn strategies to effectively reach their target audiences, optimize their profiles, and maximize the platform’s benefits for their professional growth.

Actionable tips or tutorial-style sections for students, job seekers, and companies:

For Students

Tips for Effective Studying

  • Create a dedicated study space. Find a quiet, well-lit area free from distractions where you can focus on your work.
  • Develop a study schedule and stick to it. Set aside specific times for studying each subject and make sure to break down your tasks into manageable chunks.
  • Use active learning techniques. Don’t just passively read or re-read material. Instead, try to summarize what you’ve learned, write down key concepts, or create diagrams to help you visualize the information.
  • Take breaks and get enough sleep. Studying for long periods without breaks can lead to burnout and decreased productivity. Make sure to take short breaks every 30-60 minutes and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Seek help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask your teacher, tutor, or classmates for help if you’re struggling with a particular concept.

Tutorial for Writing a College Essay

  • Choose a strong topic. Write about something that is meaningful to you and that you have personal experience with.
  • Start with a clear and concise thesis statement. This should state the main argument of your essay and what you want to prove.
  • Organize your essay into paragraphs that each support your thesis statement. Each paragraph should have a clear main point and should be well-supported with evidence.
  • Use strong verbs and vivid language. Avoid clichés and jargon.
  • Proofread carefully for any errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation.

For Job Seekers

Tips for Creating a Compelling Resume

  • Tailor your resume to each job you apply for. Highlight the skills and experience that are most relevant to the position you’re seeking.
  • Use keywords throughout your resume. This will help your resume get noticed by applicant tracking systems (ATS).
  • Quantify your accomplishments. Use numbers and data to demonstrate your impact and achievements.
  • Proofread carefully for any errors. Mistakes on your resume can make you look unprofessional.
  • Get feedback on your resume from others. Ask a friend, family member, or career counsellor to review your resume and provide feedback.

Tutorial for Acing Your Job Interview

  • Do your research. Learn about the company and the position you’re interviewing for.
  • Practice answering common interview questions. Be prepared to discuss your strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and career goals.
  • Dress professionally. Make a good first impression by dressing appropriately for the company culture.
  • Arrive on time. Be punctual and show that you’re respectful of the interviewer’s time.
  • Be confident and enthusiastic. Show that you’re excited about the opportunity and that you have the skills and experience to be successful in the role.

For Companies

Tips for Creating a Strong Employer Brand

  • Develop a clear and consistent company culture. Define your company’s values and make sure they are communicated and reflected in all aspects of your organization.
  • Offer competitive compensation and benefits. Attract and retain top talent by offering competitive salaries, benefits packages, and other perks.
  • Invest in employee development. Provide opportunities for your employees to learn and grow, both professionally and personally.
  • Recognize and reward employee achievements. Show your employees that you appreciate their hard work and contributions.
  • Promote employee well-being. Create a work environment that is healthy, supportive, and conducive to employee well-being.

Tutorial for Building an Effective Onboarding Process

  • Plan and prepare for each new hire. Assign a mentor or buddy to each new employee to help them acclimate to the company culture and their new role.
  • Provide comprehensive training. Make sure new hires have the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in their jobs.
  • Set clear expectations and goals. Communicate to new hires what is expected of them in their roles and set clear goals for their performance.
  • Check in regularly and provide feedback. Regularly check in with new hires to see how they’re doing and provide constructive feedback.
  • Celebrate successes and milestones. Make sure to recognize and celebrate new hires’ accomplishments throughout their onboarding process.

What is LinkedIn: Recommendations

Another powerful feature of LinkedIn is the Recommendations section. Recommendations about you from others in the field add a powerful message to your page. This is another area where a LinkedIn profile can present a broader image of you personally and your skill level to potential employers.

After all, these are things that can not be communicated through a traditional resume. As a courtesy, if you ask someone to write a recommendation for you, you should return the favour.

Not only does this information build your brand but, by extension, you are helping a colleague build their professional reputation.

It’s a win-win situation.

What is LinkedIn? FAQ

Here are some commonly asked questions about LinkedIn:

How is LinkedIn different from a resume?

A LinkedIn profile allows you to showcase skills, recommendations, media, accomplishments, and connections in ways that a traditional resume does not. It serves as a living, breathing professional profile.

What are best practices for sending connection requests?

Personalize invitation messages by referring to shared connections, groups or interests you may have in common. Avoid default templates or generic outreach.

What should I include/exclude from my profile?

Include relevant skills, achievements, volunteer work and recommendations that fit the audience you want to reach. Exclude sensitive information like religious/political views.

How much time should be spent networking on LinkedIn?

Spending an hour or so each week focused specifically on networking and relationship-building activities like liking content, commenting and sending messages is usually sufficient and effective.

How do ads and sponsored content work?

LinkedIn advertising options like Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail and Text Ads allow businesses to precisely target relevant members by location, company, job role and interests.

What is LinkedIn? Conclusion

LinkedIn has positioned itself as the premier social network for professionals due to its unmatched targeting capabilities based on industry, career experience and business objectives. By optimizing both personal profiles and company pages, LinkedIn empowers networking opportunities leading to career growth and measurable business goals like generating leads. With over 800 million members to potentially connect with, LinkedIn delivers substantial long-term value for those who invest the time to build relationships and develop their brand.

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