It’s easy for me, as a LinkedIn Trainer, course leader and speaker, to forget that there are professionals and people out there who don’t know what LinkedIn is. They might have some vague notion that “it’s Facebook for businesses” or that “it’s an online version of your CV”, but they can’t specifically define it. In fact, ‘what is LinkedIn’ is the most searched-for question online related to the subject on LinkedIn, with an average monthly search volume of 4,400 in the UK!

So, here are my 3 main definitions of what LinkedIn is:

1) A Showcase

LinkedIn has in the excess of 675 million users. That means LinkedIn is THE number one social media platform for professionals. To log in, all those active users must have LinkedIn profiles. A LinkedIn profile is basically a professional’s shop window. It highlights your professional experience, showcases your qualifications and achievements, and shines a light on your skills and strengths.

As well as being able to inform people about what school, college or university you attended, what your professional contact details are, where you currently work and what your job role involves, you can also tell people what your passions are, what drives you and what motivates you in your Profile Summary.

Many people have what might be termed a “portfolio career” these days, where they have one job but professional interests in another area. You might think it’s too confusing to paint a full picture of who you are on just on Profile. You may wonder: “can I have two LinkedIn accounts?” If this sounds like you, you will benefit from watching my quick video below:

You also get chance to proudly display your Recommendations – people who have worked with/for you and kindly said nice reviews about their time working with you. Nothing convinces strangers that you’re worth their time better than the opinions of other people like them!

Before visitors to your LinkedIn Profile reach the different Profile sections outlined above, they first have to be enticed by your LinkedIn Headline: 120 characters that capture how you can help other people; an attention-grabbing statement that says how you can solve their problem and make their lives easier.

If you have a LinkedIn Profile, you can also administer a LinkedIn Page, which is, at its simplest, a LinkedIn profile for a company. You can fill out a description of what your company offers, specialises in and company history as well as your website and contact details.

In my humble opinion, not filling out all the fields on your LinkedIn Profile and Company Page would be a waste. You’re much more likely to gain Connections (friends) if your Profile is filled out in its entirety, Likewise, you increase your chances of gaining LinkedIn Page ‘Followers’ if you fill out all the fields on your Page.

You might like to pop along to one of my interactive LinkedIn Bootcamp courses for a helping hand to give your Porfolio a boost!

2) A News Source

Why does anyone use any type of social media? To be nosey! To be informed, up-to-date and ‘with it’ when it comes to knowing what’s going on.

As Foundation points out:

[LinkedIn]“It’s where most Fortune 500 decision-makers and executives like to spend their spare time.

The best part?

More often than not, they’re actually scrolling through actively looking for valuable content to read.”

That’s right, the answer to ‘What is LinkedIn?’ could also be that LinkedIn is a source of industry news and developments – providing you’ve Connected with relevant people, such as suppliers, clients, colleagues, employers, employees, associates and people who do a similar job to you. It’s a publishing platform in which anyone with a profile can post tips, share advice and insight, spark inspiration and publish in-depth articles that answer questions and ignite trends and new ideas. LinkedIn gives you a springboard to become a thought-leader – a well respected ‘go-to’ expert in your industry.

All these articles and posts appear in your Connections’ news feeds – you have your own news feed too. From there, you have a bonanza of possibility at your fingertips to share your opinions and engage with other people’s content by Commenting, Liking and Sharing.

Being a silent LinkedIn user is no good. I can help you learn how to demonstrate depth of knowledge on LinkedIn with my courses and LinkedIn Consultancy services.

3) An Opportunity

You might have noticed something by now. An online CV (Profile), digital address book (all your Connections) and a blogging platform (your LinkedIn posts and articles) spell ONE thing. LinkedIn is first and foremost an OPPORTUNITY.

Remember, LinkedIn is only an opportunity if you invest in it. Fully fill out your LinkedIn Profile. Interact with other people’s content. Consistently publish your own content, adding value to those in your network. Connect with relevant people with potential. Do these things and opportunity will come knocking!

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