What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional social network, is a site that provides the ability for professionals, both at home, remote, or in a professional setting, to connect with other professionals in all fields. This social networking site allows users to use their connections to make new ones that would potentially pave the way for furthering careers and opportunities (Duermyer, 2014). LinkedIn differs from many other social networking sites, mainly because it is designed for a more professional setting, which allows users to find jobs, connections, market oneself to potential employers and discover sales leads (Roos). Any personal profile on LinkedIn can be thought of as an instant online resume that lists personal skills, work experience, recommendations and educational degrees (Grovo, 2013). There are many desirable and valuable features that provide the opportunity for furthering one’s career and connections (Grovo, 2013).
How LinkedIn Works:
LinkedIn works by helping people find and capitalize on career opportunities. It can be thought of as a digital career management tool where once a user expands and updates their profile, other users are better-able to find and connect to them. This is based on commonalities. For example, LinkedIn may see that both you and someone else went to the same university and therefore suggest that you connect with that person. “Your reputation is summed up by the relationships you’ve developed over your career” (JobContax, 2011). A primary and highly applied tool is the search bar. Many users capitalize on this feature to look up potential business contacts and other professionals within their field (JobContax, 2011). Moreover, users are able to join LinkedIn groups, which provide the chance for professionals to talk about issues, solve problems and share ideas that are related to specific industries (JobContax, 2011). Similarly, to Facebook, LinkedIn operates by giving its users a news feed in which connections and sponsored sites/companies share, like, and comment on the latest industry trends. Another parallel to Facebook is its ability to follow groups, become part of organizations, and even create pages for a company! Additionally, there is an inbox for messaging other users along with a notification tab that keeps users up to date on their activity.
What Makes LinkedIn a Technological Innovation?
LinkedIn is perhaps the biggest technological innovation for professional networking. Not only has it been able to provide qualities and features that have never been offered, but it has also put a whole new perspective and outlook for career expansion and betterment. LinkedIn predated Facebook, which means that it contrived the concept of social networking. It’s ability to find jobs for users and even suggest jobs that may be appealing, demonstrate how its algorithms and computing processes streamline a member’s experience. Innovation is all about creating new processes and ideas. LinkedIn has brought fresh concepts to the world of technology; there is no longer a need to go door to door and find a job or gain business ventures. Now, everything is at the click of a mouse or at the touch of a fingertip. Another way that LinkedIn is a technological innovation is its consistency and cohesiveness through both mobile and computer forms. Because the site hooks up to different mediums of mass communication (phone, computer and even e-mail), it can be considered as a vital benchmark for other technology concepts and websites to be inspired by.
What LinkedIn Allows You to Do:
The first thing that LinkedIn allows its users to do is fill out their professional profile. Such categories include: known languages, test scores, volunteering opportunities, organizations, publications, patents, certifications, interests, summary, experience, skills & endorsements, education, honors & awards, and relevant courses. These are mostly self-explanatory as they specifically pertain to the individual. Basically, what one does is simply fill out which categories are most relevant (Vaughan, 2015).
What many people do not know is that they can customize their URL to make it more personal. In order to do this, simply go to the top of your profile and click on the button next to the URL. The user can then go in and change what they want their personal link to be (Vaughan, 2015).
Having a profile picture is vital to creating an image for oneself. LinkedIn gives the option of uploading a professional headshot photo. This is highly encouraged by companies because it is seen as more reputable and proficient (Vaughan, 2015).
The above image demonstrates how users appear to other potential connections with a profile picture. Simply by adding a picture makes you 14 times more likely to be found (Smith, 2016).
LinkedIn also allows user to remove, rearrange and even add difference sections of their profile. While in the edit mode, users can drag sections to prioritize what they want potential employers and other professionals seeing.
Perhaps the most appealing feature for young graduates is LinkedIn’s job posting feature. By clicking on LinkedIn Jobs, users can specify the job title, location, experience level and industry that they are looking to work in.
Like Facebook, LinkedIn has a news feed. This is a great place for users to get their name and picture out there. By liking, commenting and sharing other posts and achievements, connections can sum up what the user values and finds interesting.
How Does LinkedIn Differ from Previous Technology?
The main competitor and perhaps the most similar to LinkedIn is Facebook. Despite Facebook post-dating LinkedIn, the same core concept still exists – social networking through technological mediums. Because these two sites are still largely relevant, differences need to be highlighted. First, LinkedIn is for professional purposes – it’s not about how many likes one can get on a profile picture or seeing a friend’s pictures from her recent trip to Europe. Instead, LinkedIn is meant to have a more serious tone and build a reputable image through career content rather than uploading pictures that could potentially tarnish a reputation. Moreover, Facebook is a more personal profile that lets friends and family know what you’re doing and the latest things that are going on in your life. In contrast, LinkedIn conceals everyday life occurrences and puts forth minimal personal happenings.
Evidence for LinkedIn Use:
As of February 2016, there are over 414 million users on LinkedIn (Smith, 2016). And with 2 users added every second, there is no shock that LinkedIn is widely used and still being discovered. Many millennials are using the site as part of their job search and even getting jobs as a result. Users who add skills increase their profile views by 13 times (Smith, 2016). Perhaps the increase and evidence of continuous use can be credited to the success of network expansion.
In looking at the first quarter of 2009 through the fourth quarter of 2015, it is clear that LinkedIn’s growth has continued to be successful. This chart showcases that the site is still generating buzz and is clearly in the early majority and not in the laggard stage (Statista, 2016).
How LinkedIn Has Diffused:
LinkedIn has clearly spread throughout the world due to its innovate concept. The below picture illustrates where LinkedIn fell on the diffusion of innovation curve. When the site reached the early adopter phase (those who are considered opinion leaders and adopt an innovation early enough to upkeep a central communication position) the market share was about 8% (Johnston, 2011).
Why LinkedIn is Successful:
LinkedIn is so successful because social media has become mandatory for gaining success and staying relevant in today’s technological society. In fact, the pervasiveness of social media has been termed The LinkedIn Effect. This effect highlights how there are purposes that are necessary to fulfill for furthering personal success. “Our brains, which have evolved greatly over time in order to manage our personal networks,” allow websites like LinkedIn to be a daily occurrence (Smith, 2014). Processes are moving to more technological mediums and professional networking is no exception.
The Effects of LinkedIn:
LinkedIn has had many effects and impacts on today’s society. Not only has it given professionals the opportunity to create a digital image of themselves but it can also provide more opportunity to distill personal images and create undesirable searches by employers. Because employers see individuals in LinkedIn, they can easily use their image and name to search on more social, personal networks like Facebook. With these searches, there can be inconsistent identities that are portrayed in different sites because of their nature. For example, someone may present themselves composed and qualified on LinkedIn but may not carry through these desirable traits on their Facebook or Instagram because they are less monitored. However, LinkedIn has many more positive effects that outweigh its negative counterparts. It allows its users to make more connections at a faster pace, which ultimately furthers their career. Overall, LinkedIn’s features and ability to constantly keep up to date with industry trends, connections’ achievements and new jobs keeps it the most successful professional networking site.
Duermyer, R., (2014) Introduction to LinkedIn. Home Business. Retrieved from http://homebusiness.about.com/od/linkedin/a/how-does-linkedin-work.htm
Roos, D., How LinkedIn works. How stuff works. Retrieved from http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/social-networking/networks/linkedin.htm
Grovo., (2013) Explain LinkedIn, in one minute or less. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yz2Bcr3LTMA
JobContax., (2011). How does LinkedIn work? YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKCFNje8CSE
Vaughan, P., (2015). How to use LinkedIn: 35 LinkedIn tips for professional networking, business and marketing. HubSpot. Retrieved from http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/23454/The-Ultimate-Cheat-Sheet-for-Mastering-LinkedIn.aspx
Smith, C., (2016). By the number: 125+ amazing LinkedIn statistics. Digital stat articles. Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-few-important-linkedin-stats/
Johnston, S., (2011). Infographic: diffusion of social networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Retrieved from https://samj.net/2011/11/10/infographic-diffusion-of-social-networks-facebook-twitter-linkedin-and-google/
Smith, R., (2014). The LinkedIn Effect: why social media is not mandatory for success. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/ricksmith/2014/10/20/the-linkedin-effect-why-social-media-is-now-mandatory-for-success/#1e60f9f91c1b
Statista., (2016). Numbers of LinkedIn members from 1st quarter of 2009 to 4th quarter of 2015 (in millions). Statista. Retrieved from http://www.statista.com/statistics/274050/quarterly-numbers-of-linkedin-members/