Amidst the negative sentiment that is flung around about LinkedIn, there are individuals and companies that are deriving substantial benefits as a result of their participation on the social network. These success stories are freely available on the web.
Quite simply, these are LinkedIn users that have taken the time to educate themselves on how to use LinkedIn properly and participate on the platform on a regular basis. They have fully embraced LinkedIn and have integrated its use into their daily ritual and routine.
Unlike the other social networks, LinkedIn has a number of unique differentiators that sets it aside from the rest. I have listed five reasons I believe LinkedIn will continue to grow in popularity amongst the global business community.
1. Access to “real” people One of the features that LinkedIn provides is the ability for users to connect. It is relatively simple to create “dummy” personas on any social network, but with LinkedIn, it is more challenging to get away with. If you register as a LinkedIn user, you are asked to provide information relating to past education and current and past employment. You are then expected to connect with known individuals. It is pretty difficult for someone to create a false identity and not get caught out pretty quickly.
2. Rich repository of business expertise and content You name the role or the industry, you will be sure to find someone on LinkedIn that you can connect or enter into dialogue with that is a specialist on it. Because you can access the person’s information relating to their current role and company they work for, you can easily assess if they know what they are talking about. Besides the people you have access to, there is the questions and answers section and E-Bookshelf where you are able to subscribe to a wealth of business-related content.
3. Structure One of the reasons LinkedIn is “bad-mouthed” is its complexity. LinkedIn provides a lot of features and functions to assist users to connect and interact. In order to navigate competently through these features and functions, a fair amount of structure is required. Those that do not familiarise themselves properly will struggle. Competent users, however, will reap the benefits.
4. Control In order to deliver rich functions and features and provide an environment where users feel comfortable with their daily interaction with other LinkedIn users, a fair amount of control is required. LinkedIn does a great job in ensuring that you are connecting and interacting in a controlled environment.
5. Partners LinkedIn has partnered with a number of other technologies, social networks and websites to enhance your overall experience. To assist you in promoting your content effectively, there are plug-ins provided for the likes of WordPress, SlideShare and Twitter which display related content on your LinkedIn profile. To publicise LinkedIn updates and discussions externally, you are able to effectively share on Twitter, Facebook or email. There are numerous other partners such as Amazon, My Travel, Google Presentations and Events… and the list goes on.
If you want to truly benefit from your participation on LinkedIn, my first recommendation is that you put some time aside and educate yourself on its proper use. Next time you are getting an ear-bashing from a LinkedIn nay-sayer, tell them to do the same. LinkedIn is exceptionally rich in features, functions, controls, access to highly competent people and organisations and associated with well-known, value-adding partners to provide you with a rewarding and beneficial user experience.