For many of us, LinkedIn has become a social media staple because it is a way to get a foothold within the social media and digital landscapes.
At the same time, LinkedIn also offers users the opportunity to expand their professional networks.
Over the past two years, LinkedIn has seen major growth, highlighted by the fact that it recently surpassed 100 million registered users, including more than three million in Canada.
Its growth reflects how social media has become more mainstream and how more people are building their networks amid volatile economic conditions.
One of the biggest challenges facing people using LinkedIn is how to really leverage it. Most people sign up, complete their profiles and start accepting invitations from other people to connect. After that, many people struggle to get more out of the service. It is like having business cards but not knowing what to do with them.
Jonathan Lister, managing director for Canada and Latin America for LinkedIn, said the key to getting more out of the service is exploring the different ways to get business insights through it.
This kind of information includes being able to see updates posted by people within your network and the conversations taking place. You can also look at the pages of competitors to see any new products being launched, and what people are saying about them.
"We are really focused on making professionals more productive," Mr. Lister said during an interview. "We spend a significant amount of time trying to create those insights for professionals. We are doing more of it and getting in front of users in a more evident way."
One of the more interesting features launched by LinkedIn recently is LinkedIn Today, a news page that features links posted by people within your network. This provides users with a curated view of what's happening in the world based on their interests and connections.
Mr. Lister said LinkedIn has become a particularly valuable tool for entrepreneurs because it is cost-effective, lets them tell their stories to a worldwide audience and, in the process, allows them to position themselves and their companies. As important, he said, is how LinkedIn can be used by entrepreneurs to establish themselves as domain experts to brand themselves in a unique way.
To provide people with more insight about how to get more out of LinkedIn, Mr. Lister said the company is speaking at a lot of events and meeting with customers and partners.
"We're doing a lot of member marketing campaign to raise awareness and let people know about the tools they can use on LinkedIn and the value of connecting to people," he said.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting, a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.