Online Social Media

What’s the point of LinkedIn?

What's the point of LinkedIn
Not yet on LinkedIn? There are plenty of good reasons to join...

LinkedIn is the odd one out of the three big social networks. While the appeal of Twitter and Facebook is pretty obvious, there are still many people who ask me “what’s the point of LinkedIn?” It’s different for everyone, but here’s my take.

The point of LinkedIn #1: Business networking

This is surely the primary point of LinkedIn. You meet someone during a business meeting, you feel there’s a connection (whether a business opportunity or perhaps a job for you down the line), so now what? You could email them, but that’s more awkward than sharing a bath with your mum.

What's the point of LinkedIn
“John was a bit narked that everyone wanted to shake hands with Lucy, not him, but he masked his anger with a thin smile”

You could add them on Facebook, but they’d think you weird. You could follow them on Twitter, but many people don’t do Twitter. LinkedIn is a far safer bet: it gives you a connection, allowing you to instantly message them, but keeps a safe distance between you.

The end result is that, after a few years, you should have built up a healthy network of business contacts, which could come in very handy for the next point.

The point of LinkedIn #2: Find a new job

When I last went job hunting, way back in 1998, my first port of call was newspaper job listings. Those migrated online within a few years, but now a huge amount of job hunting happens on social media. And the most powerful tool, for both job hunters and those doing the hunting, is LinkedIn.

What's the point of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great tool for getting a new job, but to take full advantage costs money…

That’s a generalisation – certain jobs still appear on niche recruitment sites – but you only need to look at the different membership options for LinkedIn to see that this is a big money-earner for the site. The Career plan, for example, costs £25 per month, but promises to help you “get hired and get ahead”.

On the other side of the fence, Recruiter Lite gives employers tools to mine LinkedIn data to create a shortlist of potential candidates for a job. That’s a minimum of £80 per month, by the way.

The point of LinkedIn #3: Build a reputation

Want to build a profile within a certain community? Perhaps develop a speaking career? Or just be seen as a *shudder* “thought leader”? Then LinkedIn is a great place to go.

Unlike Facebook, it’s not just somewhere to share an article you’ve already written. LinkedIn provides a full-on publishing platform, much like Medium, which allows you to pontificate on a subject of your choosing and then share it with your followers.

It does offer many of the same sharing features as Facebook, though, so if you want to pop up a video, upload photos or simply share a link, then it’s there for you.

What's the point of LinkedIn
Sharing a story on LinkedIn should generate awareness of your “brand” at the very least

It seems to work, too. I know several people who use LinkedIn as a tool to interact with others in their industry, and most shared articles on LinkedIn seem to get more responses and comments than they do on Facebook.

The point of LinkedIn #4: Keep in (vague) touch

If you remember Friends Reunited, you’ll instantly understand this premise: keeping in vague touch with people who were never your best buddies but you kind of liked, or kind of didn’t like but are still curious about.

You don’t necessarily want to welcome these people into the hallowed chamber of Facebook, but when they post or react to a comment you’re interested to see what they say. And who knows, one day you may actually send them a direct message on LinkedIn to suggest you go for a beer.

Unlike Friends Reunited, you won’t be charged £5 for the privilege either.

Read this next: Why are most social media sites blue?

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About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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