There can be no debate that LinkedIn has had a significant impact on the way people search for jobs and prospective employers, as well as how employers look for prospective employees. LinkedIn is the leading online professional network with more than 530 million users in more than 200 countries and territories. After all, in the U.S. alone, more than 143 million users have created individual profiles on the platform.
But did you know that users use LinkedIn to find service providers for their personal and business needs? And that companies are using it as a place to find prospective customers as well? These growing areas of interest on LinkedIn mean that the platform is ripe with opportunities for users and businesses alike.
Regardless of whether you’re a professional who is searching for a job, a consumer looking for a service provider, or a company that is searching for prospective clients or employees, LinkedIn is a great resource.
I’ve put together a list of nine of LinkedIn’s top features that all professionals and companies, regardless of industry, should be using to promote themselves and their businesses via personal and company LinkedIn pages.
1. Home Page
Much like other types of technology and social networking platforms, LinkedIn’s home page user interface got a facelift over the last year. Using algorithms and including the “human touch” of real editors, the newest version of the home page features more native, promoted, and job-related content. This provides a great mix of content to stay up-to-date on what’s going on with your network connections, companies you follow, and potential employment opportunities.
The news feed, the body of content on the page, is the main content feature prospective clients and employees see while browsing the platform. With the latest design change, it now has less emphasis on general status updates than its previous incarnation. This helps the content feel more “business” like and less like Facebook. As a professional, this is where you can help your industry knowledge, skills, and experience shine by posting content that will filter into that wall of material. As an employer, you can create content that provides useful hints, tips, and industry-related information that will appear in users’ feeds for them to comment, like, share, or otherwise interact with.
2. Search Feature
Ah, yes, the beloved search feature. This incredible tool allows you to search the LinkedIn network for a variety of different purposes. Need a job? You can search for a position by industry keywords or specific job titles. Searching to connect with others in your industry to share industry best practices and tips? There’s a “Groups” category for that. Searching to connect with specific businesses? You can do that, too.
LinkedIn updated its search tool so that you could use it to search for people, jobs, keywords, employers, companies, and even specific post topics more easily and in one place. If you want to search for information relating to a specific topic — “disaster recovery,” for example — that will bring up search results as well. For companies seeking prospective new employees, you can use the search feature to search for individuals with specific job titles (or generic industry-related job keywords). You can specify the types of people you find by narrowing or broadening your search parameters via locations, connections, and even their current companies.
If you can search it, LinkedIn is likely to find something related to it on within its platform.
Jobs are important to people no matter what their industry. LinkedIn provides an incredible platform for not only finding employment opportunities for professionals but also listing available jobs for companies that are seeking to hire new and experienced talent. For job seekers, the search feature allows you to filter by the job posting date, location, company name, and even the desired professional experience level.
The social networking platform connects businesses with users and companies worldwide, enabling you to reach out to prospective professionals across a number of industries who otherwise would likely never know about your company’s existence. You also can post a job listing to make your vacant positions known and to entice qualified individuals to apply. It’s truly is a win-win for everyone.
At FPA, we use our LinkedIn company page to list some of our company’s open jobs. Users are able to:
- Apply for the position directly through LinkedIn using their LinkedIn profile information
- See the listing and then apply directly through our website
- Share any positions they see on our company page with friends or colleagues
4. Networks and Connections
When it comes right down to it, businesses are about people. At FPA, one of our core values is to take care of people. We want our clients — and prospective clients — to know that we take care of them and have their best interests at heart. LinkedIn’s Network and Connections features enable your clients and employees to connect with your business virtually. And we want them to connect and interact with us in that online environment. This opening provides you with a great opportunity to:
- Leverage those contacts to connect with their networks;
- Reach new clients and prospective employees;
- Begin working to establish yourself as an authority or expert in your industry; and
- Establish trust with those current and prospective clients and employees.
5. Trending Topics
On the LinkedIn homepage, you’ll notice a column labeled “What people are talking about now.” This is a feature of some of the top five trending topics (top 10 if you select “more” to view the rest of the list) that are being discussed on the social networking platform. The platform skillfully navigates the treacherous waters of popular topics in a way that side-steps Facebook’s trending topics social pitfalls by keeping the information focused on business news related topics.
This feed helps you to stay on top of new and ongoing trends that you can then turn around and use to “newsjack” and create your own content relating to it. Is there important news about something going on in your industry? You can write a post about industry best practices or ways to deal with a specific concern. Is there a new technology development in your area? You can discuss the implications, concerns, and benefits and tie it to your business.
Blogging is the most effective tool in the arsenals of many professionals and companies when it comes to promoting their work or business, and establishing themselves as industry experts. Through LinkedIn, professionals (as individuals or on behalf of businesses) have the option of either sharing links to articles written by others that are published on the web or they can have their own experts write content and showcase their expertise. As an industry expert, you can share your knowledge about almost any topic.
As increasingly more content is being consumed each year on LinkedIn, the platform is yet another way to reach your target audience. You can write detailed, informative blog posts about your industry-related services that educates your audience and helps to establish you as a subject matter expert and authority.
As a nice feature, LinkedIn now allows you to share a draft of an article you’ve written before officially publishing it. This will give you a chance to ask a friend or colleague to review the content before you push it out for all of the world to see. After all, who wants to read an article by an “expert” that’s filled with typos?
Much like Facebook’s messenger tool, LinkedIn has integrated a new instant message (IM)-like chat feature for users to connect. Instead of being limited to sending email-like InMail like before, you can chat directly with users via a pop-up window on the homepage. This provides a less formal and more convenient way to reach out to prospective clients and industry professionals that you’re considering hiring.
As someone who loves to chat with new people, I also think it’s a great way to expand your professional network by becoming connected with new people in your industry. I invite you to reach out and connect with me on LinkedIn to discuss any questions you may have.
An added bonus of the tool is that it automatically updates to show your professional connections to a company if you’re looking at the page of a specific organization, business, or individual. If you don’t know anyone directly at a particular company, it will show you any of your contacts who may know someone at the company who can then make an introduction.
Information is knowledge and power in the virtual landscape. LinkedIn has increased its analytics capabilities, providing you with a clearer understanding of how users interact with your content. This enables you to know not only the basics like who likes or comments on your posts, but now you also can see their roles, their companies, where they’re located, and where they discovered your content.
What this means for you is that you’ll be able to gain a better understanding of your target audience on the platform and who your post is reaching and connecting with.
The Groups section of LinkedIn is a great place to help people who are interested in specific topics gather virtually to discuss related subject matter, issues, or concerns. As a professional in your respective industry, it is a great place to see what kind of groups relating to that industry exist and join into their discussions, as well as start a new group. This can serve a dual purpose:
- To attract other industry professionals to your company; and
- To help establish yourself (or support your standing) as an authority in this area.
For professionals, for example, you can type in a keyword relating to your industry, such as “IT services” or “accounting” and hit enter in the search bar located at the top of the LinkedIn home screen. This will bring up a list of search results where you can then choose between “People,” “Jobs,” “Content,” or the drop-down menu “More.” Selecting “More,” choose “Groups” from the list. This will display a list of groups that are related to that keyword. Each group listing is accompanied by a brief description that will inform you about the group’s purpose, scope, any sponsoring companies, and to encourage like-minded users to join.
As an IT services professional, I also personally enjoy connecting with other industry experts and a more targeted audience via LinkedIn groups. In fact, I’m part of more than 35 groups on the social networking platform and follow more than 20 companies. In addition to my professional research, these networking connections help me to stay up-to-date on industry related news and technology developments.
LinkedIn can be a helpful tool for professionals and companies alike across any industry. However, to reap the benefits, you need to actively take part in the social network by making connections, getting involved in or establishing groups, and reading and posting discussions and blog posts.
At FPA, we are always looking for quality staff (as are many of our clients), and often times the best future employees can be found through networking. If you’re interested in working with us, check out our Careers web page.
Additionally, we’re happy to help your company with your IT staffing needs through our staff augmentation & recruiting services. We use LinkedIn as one resource for helping us connect with prospective employees on behalf of our clients.
How do you use LinkedIn? What additional features do you think should be included on the list and why? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below or send an email if you’d like to chat with me about this topic.