social-349568_640If you don’t know what LinkedIn is, or haven’t heard about it, you should go to the site immediately and check it out. Initially launched in 2003, consider it the Social Media network for the working professional. Over the years it has prove that from a business perspective, it is an excellent place to make and expand contacts, and is fertile recruiting ground.

How Does It Work?

Unlike Facebook and other social media sites, LinkedIn is geared toward professionals. Its profile pages read a lot like resumes, with background notes, job experiences, competencies, and skill sets. Profiles are also media rich, enabling members to really show off their skills and make themselves shine.

The site shares many features in common with Facebook, most notably the ability to “friend” other users, which is the process by which you add them to your “network.” Users can build a virtual network of friends, allies, and contacts that they can use for the rest of their professional lives. You can benefit from this in any number of ways. As you’re reading this, I’m sure a number of them are already coming to mind, but if you’re struggling to wrap your head around how you can use a tool like this, let me give you some signposts to get you started:

Joint Ventures & Partnerships

Is your next “big idea” too big to be a one man show? Creating your own LinkedIn account can allow you to start building your own network, and you can begin systematically reaching out to, and keeping in touch with people who have the skill sets you may need for your future endeavors.

The flip side of that is also true. You never know when some other entrepreneurial sort will appear before you, wanting to add you to his network in order to bring you in on his next “big idea.”

Freelance Bench

The platform is also an excellent way to line up resources that you may not want to hire outright, but are useful as periodic, project specific hires. You many not need to have a dozen Java coders on staff all the time, but when you’re rolling out a new app suite, it could come in handy. Finding these folks ahead of time and keeping in touch is a great way to be able to call in the cavalry at a moment’s notice.

Current and Future Permanent Needs

Of course, this is the perfect venue to “shop” for the next permanent addition to your team, too. You get an in depth, detailed resume, the chance to interact with them and really see what they know. By the time the position opens up and it’s time to start interviewing, most of the hard work is already done.

No matter what your needs are, present or future, you could definitely benefit by being a part of the LinkedIn community. In fact, one of the intangible benefits of immersing yourself in that world is the simple association. Ideas always seem to flow more freely when you surround yourself with determined, career oriented people, and you’ll find no shortage of them in the LinkedIn community. So…are you “Linked In” yet? If not, why not?