LinkedIn is a social network for the business community. Founded in 2002, the site is a place for professionals to connect with past and current colleagues, increase their number of business connections, network within their industry, discuss business ideas, search for jobs and look for new hires.
LinkedIn users create professional, résumé-like profiles that allow other site members to learn more about their business background, their areas of expertise, and groups or organizations they belong to. Once users create their profile, they can add other users to their network.
The profiles also include options for including status updates that let people in a user's network know what they're working on and when they might be traveling, or offer advice when needed. There is also a feature that allows those not signed in to LinkedIn to view parts of the profile the user deems allowable.
LinkedIn's main features include the following:
- Keep in touch: With people changing jobs so often, LinkedIn gives users the opportunity to stay updated on where the people in their professional network are working and how to contact them.
- Get help: When a user's network of contacts can't help with a business problem, two LinkedIn tools, Answers and Groups, let them connect with experts through trusted introductions.
- Search for jobs: LinkedIn's jobs feature lets users search thousands of employment listings, with options for filling out applications directly on the site. The application and the user's LinkedIn profile are then sent directly to the potential employer.
- Hire new employees: Hiring managers can use LinkedIn to find the candidate with a specific skill set and necessary experience.
LinkedIn currently has more than 160 million members in the United States and 610 million worldwide. LinkedIn members include executives from 92% of Fortune 500 companies, and 77% of recruiters are on LinkedIn.
What can you use LinkedIn for personally?
When using LinkedIn as a beginner, it's easy to overlook some of the valuable features the site has for personal users. First, you'll need to create a profile. Think of it as your professional résumé.
From there, you can create blog posts, share commentary on articles and join groups. You can even search through jobs or sign up as a freelancer.
Using LinkedIn Pulse, you can post thought leadership to gain a stellar reputation among your industry peers. This news aggregation service gathers high-quality articles from major media outlets, mixed with posts from LinkedIn users.
Also consider asking co-workers, clients and colleagues to endorse you for skill. These act as a recommendation for potential employers. You're in control of what you do and don't share.
What is LinkedIn for business?
LinkedIn for business lets you create a business profile for your organization. From there, you can create job postings, search through profiles to learn about potential clients and vendors, and more.
LinkedIn is a large platform that lends itself to marketing, especially for B2B businesses. In 2016, LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft, which has long catered to enterprise users.
Because it's built for professionals, LinkedIn a great lead-generation platform. You can target potential clients by industry, company, job title and more to start reaching the people who matter most to your business. [For more direction on how to use LinkedIn for business, check out this guide.]
Is LinkedIn free?
LinkedIn is free for a basic membership, but your options are limited. You can only send messages to people in your network, and you have limited data on the last five people who viewed your profile. Searches are limited to 100 results, and you can't perform more advanced searches.
Still, a free LinkedIn membership has the benefit of including you among your professional peers. A free LinkedIn account still allows you to create a portfolio, add people to your professional network, join and create groups, and write blog posts.
This is a great way for beginners to gain exposure to a wider professional audience.
What is LinkedIn Premium?
If you want more powerful features, you'll need to upgrade to LinkedIn Premium. This enables you to view more search results beyond the default 100. It's even possible to save more than the three searches allowed by the free account.
Premium accounts are preferred by businesses that want to organize multiple profiles from one centralized dashboard.
With a Premium account, you can also see everyone who's viewed your profile over the past 90 days. A Premium LinkedIn member can also send and receive messages from any other user at no additional cost. There are three tiers of paid LinkedIn Premium options.
What are LinkedIn paid options?
LinkedIn Premium is a three-tiered system that includes Business, Business Plus and Pro. Each has a different cost and different limits and will assist businesses with their needs.
For LinkedIn Business, business accounts cost $29.95 per month and allow three InMails (messages to people outside your network) per month, 300 profiles per search and five folders in the Profile Organizer.
LinkedIn Business Plus accounts cost $49.95 per month and allow 10 InMails per month, 500 profiles per search and 25 folders in the Profile Organizer.
Pro accounts cost $499.95 per month and allow 50 InMails per month, 700 profiles per search and 25 folders in the Profile Organizer.
Recruiters, job seekers and the Sales Navigator are available as well. These paid accounts have tiers, too.
LinkedIn Recruiter Lite costs $99.95 per month, and Corporate costs $825 per month. Job seekers pay $29.99 to $59.99 per month, while Sales Professionals pay $79.99 per month. These subscriptions have power-user features geared toward their specific audiences.
Getting started on LinkedIn for beginners
Getting started on LinkedIn is easy. Simply head to LinkedIn.com and click Join Now on the top right of your screen. The site will walk you through the process of setting up your profile, filling out your portfolio and experience, adding people you know professionally, and joining groups or following interests. From there, you can explore the entire site.