For any young professional, networking is of the upmost importance. From business to academics, your connections will forever offer you widespread knowledge and allow you many "real world" opportunities. However, tracking and maintaining your connections is by no means simple. In fact, if you network correctly, it can be timely and exhausting. Luckily, we have LinkedIn (LNKD) to help us with such a process.
With over 300 million users, and a growth rate of nearly two new users per second, LinkedIn is the world’s largest and fastest growing professional networking platform. Even more impressive than its size and growth is LinkedIn’s functionality. LinkedIn aims to help all individuals build and expand their professional networks by "connecting," specifically with new people. LinkedIn displays one’s connections much like Facebook (FB) displays friends; however, one main difference is the way members add, and access, additional connections.
Facebook only displays people you may know based on complex algorithms about friends of your friends, whereas LinkedIn displays not only the connections of your connections, but also professionals who may be connected to you by workplace, work field, educational experience, and many other criteria. Thus, one’s professional network expands massively with each new connection. For example, as a new LinkedIn user, I have about 60 connections, but maintain 675,000 professional relationships. This function alone makes LinkedIn the most important networking service for any professional.
In addition to its role as a professional networking platform, LinkedIn also allows its users to search for, or post, job opportunities. LinkedIn Jobs service provides recruiters with a number of tools, such as automated job matching, real-time analytics, and the ability to instantly view applicants’ profiles. For those seeking employment, LinkedIn Jobs allows users to filter potential jobs by location, company size, and industry. Furthermore, LinkedIn also alerts users with potential job opportunities, so long as they match their professional interests and current location.
LinkedIn Jobs pages provide company descriptions, available jobs, required experience, and desirable traits. Some companies even allow LinkedIn members to submit applications directly via the LinkedIn website. In effect, LinkedIn uses its 300 million-member base as an applicant pool, combining it with analytic technology in order to match job seekers with job hirers.
LinkedIn is a tool that should be used by everyone who is, or will become, part of the work force (fellow college students, I’m talking to you). In terms of professional networking, LinkedIn is absolutely unrivaled in its membership and functionality. Its dedicated users are rewarded with important business connections and, in many cases, promising careers (click here for other helpful career advice).