Do You Really Need LinkedIn?

When I was younger, long before the Internet boom and dawn of social networking, my father explained to me the major advantages of living in a world where we could save a document to a magnetic disk, bring it up in virtual space and edit it at will before ever putting words to paper. His sense of wonder did not fall on deaf ears. Having seen my older sisters type research papers on typewriter, I knew these advancements had created an invaluable level of convenience for me.

By the time I was searching for my first job, we already lived in a world of pocket sized 3.5” floppy disks, enabling us to create and save documents on one machine and transfer it to another with relative ease. Although my first resume was limited to mowing lawns and school achievements, it quickly grew as I continued to finish High School and worked multiple part-time jobs. The ease in which I was able to simply revise my resume with a few quick edits made it something I could update frequently, streamlining it into a more professional format with each new addition.

Updating my resume became the fruit of my job seeking labors. It was evidence of my professional growth. As I shifted towards more career-oriented work, I also began to do contractual jobs on the side, creating not one resume but several, each tailored to the various areas of creative and professional work I had done, and what I hoped to do next. I was branching out, and hoping that my various talents would spread via word of mouth, and my nest of CVs eventually became a catalog of budding client lists. As I progressed, I realized I was only slightly ahead of the curve. I found that this process was called networking, and I was slowly being outdone by my peers who were able to use a new medium, called social networking, to reach potential employers and clients I had never thought imaginable.

I had ignored social networking for so long because I had always associated it with something that teenagers used, like MySpace or IRC chat from my younger years. When I was finally introduced to LinkedIn, I discovered a vast playground for someone like me. Not only was I able to update my resume with the click of a button, I could seek out others, be sought out by others, and even join different groups within every niche I could imagine. All of these components attributed to free advertising for my side-businesses, which happened to be designed around a nice little hub for me to continue my hobby of updating my business profile.

Since my own discovery of its benefits, LinkedIn has transformed from a virtual oasis to a bustling metropolis, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed by businesses. In 2011, LinkedIn surpassed the 100 million user mark, with an unprecedented 1 million new users signing up every week from across the globe. It was quickly touted as the single most important social network for job seekers and professionals alike, and has proven time and again to be a wonderful resource of information, simply because of the amount of professionals already using the service and eager to spread their knowledge for networking purposes.

While these reasons might be enough to persuade the uninitiated to sign up, the largest incentive comes from the simple fact that our modern society expects companies and individuals to familiarize themselves with the latest trends in business and technology. Although I was reluctant to explore the potential behind social networking a few years ago, it has quickly become a basic element in business understanding, and the absolute absence of a LinkedIn account will hurt you more than having one with a skimpy client list.

After all, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of such a great system? In our modern economy, marketing your business has become costly and cluttered, and LinkedIn puts you in the middle of the ocean where the sharks are biting. As well, most of your peers and clients already have a LinkedIn account, and within a few hours you will find you have a vast network of companions, making your search that much stronger.

LinkedIn’s benefits are innumerable, and can help you keep your contacts list growing and your Internet presence consistent as a living, evolving thing. It is the modern way to network inside and outside your business, and is a monument to your company’s ability to maintain an edge in the expansive world of online independent professionals.

Miles Hall writes frequently about the business world. He is interested primarily in writing about selling businesses.

Filed in: Business, Business Success, Linked In
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