LinkedIn has recently hit the 100M users mark and is recognized to be the most popular and powerful professional networking platform on the Internet.
It`s popularity has grown drastically over the last two years which has placed LinkedIn in the top 5 fastest growing social networks in the world.
Since I wrote the first post about LinkedIn in October 2010, it has acquired more than 20M new users which means that in average the network has grown by more than 100 users EVERY minute. Isn’t that cool?
As a company, LinkedIn employs over 1000 highly skilled professionals in 8 countries. These guys work really hard on developing and growing the LinkedIn business bringing to its users amazing and sometimes unique tools and features.
Even being a basic plan user of LinkedIn you are getting an instant access to a large number of features which we have already discussed in previous posts. Additionally (in partnership with third-party service providers) the list of features and applications you can use is even more impressive.
Today let’s have a closer look at some of them and make points on how you can benefit from the usage of these additional tools and applications.
Before we start, I would like to make a little note about some restrictions for basic plan subscribers. There are a limited number of applications (five) you can use before the paid upgrade and the good thing is that you can change the applications you use as many times as you want. For example, you want to survey your network about something by creating a poll with the «Polls» application. There is a 30-day activity period for polls and once you have completed your «poll project» you can remove the «Polls» application from your profile and add something else from the list.
Now let’s review the most often used applications based on what I’ve seen while browsing LinkedIn.
For those of you who have a Twitter account, one of applications of your choice should be Tweets. It allows you to integrate your Twitter account(s) into your LinkedIn profile so that your network would be able to see your Twitter activity even if they are not on Twitter. LinkedIn has done a great job allowing you to adjust your settings in order to display your Twitter account on your LinkedIn profile, to share your tweets in your LinkedIn status, and to add additional options about your tweets such as pictures, page titles etc.
The only thing about the usage of this application that you should keep in mind is that LinkedIn is a professional network. So, make sure all your activity (including your tweets — if you choose to display them on your LinkedIn profile) is relevant and does not create an endless and annoying stream of information which does not relate to you from a professional perspective.
Speaking of Twitter and LinkedIn, there is one more application which uses Twitter technology — Company Buzz. Using this you will be able to see the twitter activity associated with your company, view tweets, and keep track of trends and top key words. You can «customize» your topics and share with your co-workers, which is good to use in connection with the «company following» LinkedIn function.
Do you have a blog? If so, there are two applications you can use to show your blog activity on your LinkedIn profile: WordPress and BlogLink. Both of them are used to connect your blog with your LinkedIn profile so that your network will be able to know about all your blog’s updates. One is for blogs working on WordPress and the other one is for other types of blogs.
It would be really useful if you have a blog which relates to your professional interests. On the other hand I wouldn’t consider connecting your personal blog to your professional profile on LinkedIn. Remember the purpose of LinkedIn.
If your professional portfolio contains any kinds of multimedia resources such as video presentations or PowerPoint presentations created to show off your expertise, there are ways to display them on your LinkedIn profile. They include SlideShare Presentations, Google Presentations, and Portfolio Display. Try them and see which one best suits your needs.
There are two applications which you can use to extend your professional profile by showing off your reading preferences: E-Bookshelf and Reading List by Amazon.
E-Bookshelf is a kind of e-library and you need to buy credits to get access to the content while the Reading List by Amazon is a completely free service which allows you to create your reading list consisting of books you have already read or are interested in reading. Also, you will be able to see the reading lists of other connections (if they chose to display this application on their profile). There is a «review» function within this application which allows exchanging your thoughts about a book within your professional network. You can also use this application as a networking tool to expand your network through users who have reviewed books of your interest.
The Events application shows your interest or your participation in specific professional events from global trade shows to local community networking events. Events are being created by other members of LinkedIn and you also can create one. There is a very good search function allowing you to find events based on your needs and locations. In addition you can see what kind of events your connections are visiting or interested in.
The last application I would like to draw your attention to is Box.Net Files. This is a type of storage for the files you would like to share with your network.
Open access to your files gives additional opportunities for you to show off your credibility in the sphere of your professional interests. It is a very easy to use tool that allows you to upload, manage, and share compatible documents such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and others on your LinkedIn profile. The cool thing about this application is that you can edit your files «on the spot». Moreover you can create your own folders and sort your files accordingly.
You might want to check the list of LinkedIn applications from time to time (go to More-Add More Applications menu on the home page or in the profile edit mode) as it is being changed and new applications are being added all the time. Additionally, in one of my next posts I am going to review some other tools created by LinkedIn and other companies using LinkedIn’s application program interface (API) which was recently upgraded. Believe me, there are cool things out there…
If you have had an experience using the mentioned LinkedIn applications, or have something to add to the post, you are more than welcome to share in the comments.
To be continued…