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LinkedIn is probably the largest professional networking website in the world with over 100 million members worldwide. But from my own observations, the members are not as active on it as members of Facebook are. Perhaps this is because it’s more of a professional website than a social one. Or maybe it’s because people don’t really understand how to use LinkedIn to their advantage.

On a personal level, I don’t really use LinkedIn all that much. I know I should but I feel there’s an invisible wall between my personal life and my professional life that should not be crossed. Although my tweets can feed directly to my LinkedIn status simply by adding the hashtag #in at the end of my tweet, I often choose not to do this. I feel a little bit uncomfortable sharing my personal updates with my professional network.

On the other hand, I’m a LinkedIn advocate when it comes to business related use. When I was an HR Manager for a high tech company, I took advantage of the LinkedIn recruiting solutions to recruit hard to find candidates. 99% of the jobs I had to fill at an average of 10 positions a month were mostly engineers – software, hardware, electronic, video, audio, etc., with very specific skillsets that could only be gained through experience. In addition, I had to fill jobs in other countries as well such as Japan, Korea and Hong Kong.

I remember when we were opening up a new office in San Diego and I had to find 4 senior RFIC design engineers. Yes, not just any engineers but ones with very specific skills. I would not have been able to successfully recruit highly qualified candidates had it not been for LinkedIn. There was no way that I would have been able to fill these positions in the U.S. and overseas by using the traditional job boards such as Workopolis and Monster.

Through LinkedIn, I was able to reach out to candidates and create a “talent pipeline“, engaging candidates in conversations rather than using the usual method of recruitment. People may not indicate on their profiles that they’re looking for new opportunities, but when presented with an opportunity, they would listen and perhaps consider making a career move.

Another use of LinkedIn is to help connect with people. If you have a job interview for example, you can look up the interviewer’s profile on LinkedIn and perhaps you’d be able to find a common ground you can discuss during the interview. Often interviews are about a connection you have with the interviewer, not just strictly experience and skills.

I found this interesting video on LinkedIn, explaining what it is and how you can use it to your advantage, whether to grow your network professionally or to help your business grow.

Here’s some interesting stats about LinkedIn, as shared by Invisible//Ink//Digital.

  1. LinkedIn has 101 million members worldwide
  2. About 36% are between the ages of 25 to 54.
  3. North America and Europe make up 3/4 of LinkedIn users.
  4. Over 52% of members are located outside of the U.S.
  5. 15.3% of business users are from the high tech industry.