Tech Primer: Using LinkedIn for Professional Networking

Overview & History:
LinkedIn is a social networking site that is geared towards developing professional relationships.    It is a valuable tool for creating and connecting with a professional network.   LinkedIn is similar to Facebook and MySpace, but offers a more professional feel.    LinkedIn has been around since 2003 and has over 50 million users worldwide.

How it Works:
LinkedIn is similar in nature to other social networking sites.   You first create an account and develop a profile for yourself.  Typically, a LinkedIn profile is more professional in nature and includes information about your current and past employers, duties, volunteer organizations, education, and any other activities or groups that you are involved with.

After you have profile set up, you can then start building your network.  Every time you add a person to your network, you have then created a “connection” to that person.  As you can see from my profile, I have 80 connections.   Once you are connected to a person, you are then able to view all of that person’s connections (as long as they allow you to.)

Other Features:
LinkedIn also includes several other cool features that allow you communicate and connect with others.  The website allows you to integrate information from other social media and blogging sites, such as twitter and wordpress, connect with outside applications, like Box.net, search jobs, and research companies.

Another great feature within LinkedIn are the professional groups.   There are hundreds (if not thousands) of different professional groups that are meant to connect people with a common professional interest.   Anyone has the ability to join or create a professional group.

In Summary:
LinkedIn is a great tool for professional networking and for participating in online professional networks.   I would recommend joining LinkedIn for anyone that is interested in building a network in their industry.

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