Are you LinkedIn?

Networking in business can be is hard. It’s can be difficult to consult with others in your field in a world that is so competitive. When looking for people to join your team, it can be hard to find just the right candidate, especially when that person may be a half a world away. And when looking for a job, it’s nearly impossible to get to the hiring manager of a company you’ve always wanted to work for when you don’t have any of their personal contact information.

That’s all changed, thanks to “LinkedIn”.

LinkedIn started in 2003 and is still growing. It connects business people via networks of common interests. It might be by a topic of expertise, looking for a job, or posting a job. Think of it as an online dating service, but for trusted business professionals.

The site was started by five people who invited about 350 of their business contacts to join their network. By the end of the first month, LinkedIn had 4,500 members in the network. Now there are over 360 million members in over 200 countries. It’s about creating a network of business expertise and trust and using that network to be seen, get advice, give advice, look for a job, find the perfect candidate, and much more. (And yes, there are a few spammers and snake oil salesmen too.)

Not only does the site reach millions of people worldwide, those looking for your expertise can find you and do so quickly. There are ways to advertise and reach all 360 million users, or you can be more specific. You can create a LinkedIn page for your business so everyone can see you, and that is free. You can host a blog on different marketing topics. You can provide advice to those who are looking for a marketing expert. You can send out a survey. Although the site has millions of people across the world, the way it is set up, those who are looking for your information can find it.

When you want to find the right person for a job opening you have, it can be very difficult. Perhaps you usually post the opening in a newspaper, or on Seek or even hire a head-hunter or contracting firm. These methods bring in hundreds of non-relevant resumes, which can make the hiring process onerous and distasteful. The benefit of posting an opening on LinkedIn is that those who need a job in your field can reach you better and they can be referred by others on the LinkedIn network, giving more credence to their applications. There is also a feature for an automated talent search that allows you to precisely target candidates.

One interesting aspect to LinkedIn is that you can ask, answer and collaborate on business questions with a large community. Many people in your same line of work or position are willing to give advice and help others. You can ask by topic such as administration, finance, legal, management, marketing and more. This can help any business avoid pitfalls, but also provide ideas that never occurred to you.

And it builds your personal brand.

The Internet offers businesses the opportunity to reach more people than ever. LinkedIn has provided a way for businesses and people to connect in a trusted environment at little to no cost. Don’t miss this chance. Learn to maximize your use of LinkedIn.

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