LinkedIn is a social networking platform that caters to businesses and people in professional occupations. The site, which is primarily used for professional networking, was launched in 2003. By the beginning of 2013, LinkedIn had more than 200 million users in more than 200 countries and territories.
Basic profiles for businesses and users are free. By paying for an upgraded account, profiles get access to additional features and are allowed to make more connections using the platform.
LinkedIn is a very advantageous tool for building a brand and expanding your network. The profiles have a professional listing side and a social media site that allows for Facebook-style postings. LinkedIn allows users to maintain a list of “Connections” made up of contacts they have a relationship with. Users who try to invite too many people they don’t know can have their accounts restricted or closed, which helps promote a higher quality of professional interaction among users of the platform. Users can also list information about themselves such as their resume, publications, work experience, skills, and more. LinkedIn has been described as the “de facto tool for professional networking.”
Like all social media, using LinkedIn to benefit a business requires an investment in time. Additionally, while there are hundreds of millions of users, many of them are not actively engaged on LinkedIn. Depending on the type of profession and state, a LinkedIn profile may constitute advertising and thus may subject to ethical constraints (e.g. LinkedIn use by lawyers).