It’s true that I’ve publicly predicted their demise, yet, like the grade-school girl who hits the boy she loves, deep down I really have a crush on LinkedIn. Obviously, I’m not alone. This professional network is signing on new users at the rate of two per second and has a lot of advantages that make it useful to anyone in business or looking to bust in.
Here are my five reasons for loving LinkedIn:
1. Picture perfect
Admit it. Before you meet with someone, or even before you call them, you look at their photo on LinkedIn. It’s just human nature to want to see the person you’re about to contact; LinkedIn provides that vital connection. It’s no longer necessary to think of the audience in their underwear to eliminate the fear before a meeting. Now I can get a sneak peek, and know before I go.
2. Group therapy
Speaking of presentations, following Brandemix workshops on popular topics like DIY employer branding or social media marketing, I receive dozens of business cards and LinkedIn requests. But how do I remember that I met Jim from Dallas in Orlando and Jane from Orlando in Dallas? LinkedIn lets me organize my contacts with tags: keywords that I create myself. I can group by speaking engagement, event, date, location, or up to 200 differentiators. It’s a simple online solution to a real-world problem that LinkedIn recognized and addressed.
3. A happenin’ app
Hardly anyone talks about it, but I think LinkedIn’s mobile version is more versatile and beautiful than the site itself. Its intuitive images of file folders, envelopes, and ID tags are a welcome change from the web version’s stark blue and white. The big, bold icons make it easy to read content, comment on posts, and search the directory. The interface gives LinkedIn a more friendly, social feel, like Facebook or Twitter. And speaking of which…
4. Wonderful for wordsmiths
I can’t always express myself in the 140 characters of a tweet. LinkedIn gives me 700 characters or a post, four times as many as Twitter. I also get 1,000 characters under Interests and 2,000 for my Summary. Great for, shall we say, enthusiastic writers like me!
5. There is such a thing as a free lunch.
While LinkedIn offers excellent premium accounts and comprehensive recruiter packages, I have almost 800 connections and still use the free version. Even without InMail or the advanced search options, I’m able to form groups (and you're welcome to join mine), join groups (I hit my limit at 50), and still get access to all kinds of useful content for free.
Miscellaneous: I always get enlightening feedback to my questions on LinkedIn Answers. I use my allotment of free introductions to expand my network. And I follow my competitors and my “wannabes” to stay up to date in the fields of marketing, branding, and interactive technology.
LinkedIn is my one-stop shop. And with its two new features – targeted updates and follower statistics – I’m finally able to segment my messaging and see exactly who I’m reaching. Last year, I worried that LinkedIn wasn’t innovating, but features like these (and don’t forget that great app) show me that LinkedIn is committed to being the most useful network for business professionals.