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LinkedIn as a Professional Communication Tool

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

LinkedIn is the business-oriented side of social networking sites. In this lesson, you'll learn more about this tool for professionals, what to expect after creating an account, and the best strategies for communicating.

Growing Your Network

You use it to connect with colleagues and reconnect with old classmates.

You can follow thought leaders in your industry or even become a thought leader yourself.

You can even use it to tout your experience and skills and network for your next big job.

Where can you do all of these things and more? The social network known as LinkedIn.

The Purpose of LinkedIn

LinkedIn, while in the family of social networking occupied by distant cousins Facebook and Twitter, allows for a different kind of online connection: a professional one. First launched in 2003, LinkedIn is a platform for professionals to build an in-depth resumé of education and workplace experience and then connect with other people in the workforce. Today, there are roughly 467 million LinkedIn users, with a quarter of those active on the platform every month.

LinkedIn is a professional social networking site.
linkedin

Instead of simply connecting with friends and family members to check out vacation pictures and update people on what you ate for dinner, LinkedIn allows you to build strategic relationships with customers, clients, colleagues, vendors and people you might want to work with or work for in the future. You can also follow people or companies in your industry that you're interested in, such as Apple and Transamerica or the vice chair at General Electric.

The most important part of LinkedIn is its networking, or connecting, opportunities. When you first open a LinkedIn account, you add people you know and they become a part of your immediate network. Then, you become able to see your connection's connections and can request meetings or introductions from your mutual friend. This is how you grow your extended network.

LinkedIn Expectations

So, you know the basic of LinkedIn's business-based networking tools. But, what can you expect once you create your account?

Groups

Groups are one of the first important pieces of the LinkedIn puzzle. Groups help you keep up with the latest news in your industry and connect with other professionals you may not know, but who share your same interests. This can help you not only stay on top of the most current information but also engage in discussions and meet new people who work in your field.

Recommendations

One of the key features of your own personal profile is the recommendations section, where people you have worked with can write recommendations about your skills and abilities. These serve as a type of reference or testimonial to your education and experience and are displayed on your profile for others to see, lending increased credibility to your resumé.

Your News Feed

Much like Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn collates all of the people, brands, and organizations you follow into your personal news feed, which you can then scroll through. This allows you to be able to keep up with the latest news, check out shared links, and offer your own commentary on shared statuses.

Job Hunting

In the market for a new job? LinkedIn may be a good tool to try. For example, if you want to go to work for FedEx, you have the option of learning more about their company and perusing open positions. Or, you can set up job alerts industry-wide to see new jobs available in your preferred location.

Messaging

Just like most social networking sites, LinkedIn offers a way to send a message to another member privately. This can be a useful tool for keeping in touch with connections and reaching out to others you want to be connected to for setting up a meeting or discussing business.

Communicating Professionally on LinkedIn

There are some basic ground rules for participating in a professional manner on LinkedIn. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, where almost anything goes, the LinkedIn network should be remembered as a place where prospective employers and partners can see what you say.

1. Authenticity is crucial. Talk to people on LinkedIn the way you would talk to them if you were meeting them face-to-face. Be professional, but don't be something you're not. You want people to recognize the real you whether you're talking online or getting together for a business meeting.

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