LinkedIn is the most well-known of online social media sites for business.
More business network than social media, and with over 50 million people participating worldwide, it's a huge database of contacts and a powerful tool for making useful connections.
According to LinkedIn's own 10/14/09 blog post, "Every day professionals use LinkedIn to define themselves -and their businesses - to the world."
Who are these 50 million people?
- Job seekers
- Recruiters and hiring managers
What benefit does LinkedIn provide for them?
- Ability to be known
- Ability to be found
- Ability to find others.
- Ability to become known as an "export."
- Ability to ask questions and get intelligent answers.
- Ability to belong and share ideas with similar minded people.
Once you're signed up for a free LinkedIn account, the first thing to do is set up your profile. This is a lot like a resume. You can include as much or as little as you want. Determine what you want from LinkedIn and write your profile accordingly. Make it as sharp as you can, because first impressions count here as much as in person.
Search engines like Google and Yahoo index LinkedIn profiles, so it's good to include any key words or phrases you'd want to be found using. Because people use LinkedIn to make connections based on common background, be sure to put in detail about where you went to school, where you've worked, and any professional or personal affiliations.
When you think your profile looks pretty good, don't be put off if a section to the right of it says it's not 100 percent complete. No sweat. It doesn't have to be complete to go public. Save the profile anyway and get started making connections. Eventually you can follow the suggestions, also in that box, to widen and deepen your LinkedIn presence.
The "More - Learning Center" is a great place to take it further.