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Why Is LinkedIn Underutilized?

A look inside the impact of the professional network

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Is LinkedIn one of the first sites that you visit each day? If you’re like me, it’s not. (That is, up until this report! ☺) The reason for this is not because LinkedIn isn’t valuable. Instead, it’s just hard to make time for it, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and all the other sites that demand so much time.

Do you find yourself struggling to make time for LinkedIn? Let us know.

The site is often equated with finding a job, and while this is a very big part of LinkedIn, it’s not everything. According to Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s Connections Director and founder of WORKS by Nicole Williams, the professional network should be viewed as a “career toolbox.”

“Where it may end up being deemed as forgotten is that people don’t realize how helpful it is in your day-to-day career development,” she said. “LinkedIn is designed to help you in your career totality.”

“It’s not just to be used at the point in which you’re looking at a job,” Williams added.

As she pointed out, LinkedIn should be used in continuous career development. It’s full of news, forums, and groups that could create valuable opportunities. The relationships and connections that are made on LinkedIn can play a significant role in helping people get into their desired careers.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are all useful in their own way, but they are very different from LinkedIn. Facebook, specifically, covers a user’s entire life (especially once the new Timeline feature officially rolls out) from personal vacation pictures to fun activities and events that the user participates in.

LinkedIn, however, is different because it offers a professional forum to individuals. As Williams explained, it provides “distilled information,” which is necessary for a professional environment. The company also has features such as LinkedIn Today that helps users stay up-to-date on industries they are interested in.

In addition, LinkedIn recently introduced a Volunteer Experience and Causes field to its service that allows users to display their charity inolvement right along with their work experience. Based on a survey the company conducted, 41 percent of the respondents said that they considered volunteer work just as valuable as paid work experience.

Williams told us that this new feature is especially beneficial in this economy, since so many people aren’t able to work in jobs that are reflective of their true passions. The Causes field now allows them to actually get credit for their volunteer experience.

“You have to set yourself apart,” said Williams. “What LinkedIn is hoping to do is allow people to set themselves apart by being able to offer up their volunteer work experience.”

The truth is – there are a lot of ways to use LinkedIn that people aren’t taking advantage of. According to Williams, LinkedIn Groups is a powerful means for people to connect with individuals not only in their industry but also in other industries that they are interested in. Groups also can give a user the opportunity to become a leader in their industry by participating in conversations.

“You can get exposed to people who are beyond your normal realm of influence and get to know people who may, in fact, get to be able to offer you something professionally; or, you may be able to offer them something professionally,” she said.

Williams told us that, as a new mom, she is involved in several groups related to professional women and working moms. Through a conversation she had about being tired, she met a sleep coach and, after talking with her, hired her. She told us that the chances of them connecting in another way would have been extremely slim.

“If you can just engage in conversation and offer up tidbits of advice that prove that you’re a legitimate, helpful individual, that may turn into a real business opportunity,” Williams said.

She also said that LinkedIn would continue to build products that would enhance the lives of professionals and make it easier to connect with other professionals.

While it is difficult to keep up with all the social networks, Williams told us that LinkedIn should not be underutilized because it could really impact a person’s career for the better.

After reading this, are you going to make more time for LinkedIn?

Why Is LinkedIn Underutilized?
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  • Barrett Peterson

    I devote one hour to 75 minutes pre day to social media, much of it on my commuter train commute. Facebook, Twitter, and Google plus get 30 minutes…LinkedIn the rest. I use LinkedIn for “personal branding” as I am not job hunting.

  • http://try6weekbody.org/ DK

    So, why is LinkedIn not utilized as other social networks? I can only speak for myself: personally, I’m more or less self-employed, and prefer to work on my own.

    Although I have a LinkedIn account and have tried it out, I don’t really feel the need to go much further with it.

    There’s only so much time in the day for me, but at least, after having watched this video, I’ll know what LinkedIn has to offer me.

  • jenny collins

    LinkedIn is also a social networking but kind of different than all other social networking sites for internet marketing. The new feature of career toolbox is having lots of functionality than now. This step of LinkedIn can grow the site users easily.

  • Ginny

    I find it interesting solely in the Group interests I have in opera and writing. As for my vocation, I see little utility in using it. I am a self-employed writer and lawyer. I find linkedin to be like the store of the stock exchange, everybody is yell g, “over here! Here!” it’s too much of a hassle wading through all of the noise. I also see little utility in paying for it in this atmosphere.

  • http://www.winerywebsites.biz Jim Teresinski

    Where Linkedin needs to make some improvements is in the business pages (they really suck – especially considering they’re on a biz professionals site) and the groups. Both of these areas need better and more features. Theres been rumors improvements were forthcoming with the business pages, but my fingers are still crossed.

  • http://www.payperclickhouston.com Tony Nguyen

    Yes. It’s another social media outlet that lacks a task. On Facebook, you have things to do like communicate with your friends and family and that’s why you spend time on facebook.

    I believe that if LinkedIn becomes a hub for project management to get work related tasks done, (Manymoon) then, more people will be using it for work which accounts for more of our time these days as professionals.

    Hopefully they wake up before they become irrelevant.

  • http://roomswithgreatviews.com Bill

    I tried it; didn’t care for it. When I suggested people to possibly link, it kept sending them emails and wouldn’t stop until they responded. It embarrassed me, so I got off.

  • Mike Ross

    LinkedIn is a pain to use. It limits my efforts in trying to network. You can’t make contact with anybody you want. I like the other parts and opportunities. They need to make it open to be able to attempt to make connections with anyone you deem viable. Otherwise, I think it will eventually fail and Google Plus will beat it out.

    • Curt

      Absolutely agree. Poorly designed, hard to use. Couldn’t believe they got an IPO out of that website. Now they want to charge you for basic networking actions. I have no intention of ever signing onto LinkedIn again.

  • http://www.lmpmaps.com mike adams

    I never get time to use it, restrictions in who I can request connections with make it a pain, so I don’t mess with it.

  • http://earthwalkways.com Darlene Rollins

    I find it very difficult to navigate. I have two accounts and one is inactive and I don’t know how to close it so people want to link, but the site won’t let me. I get very frustrated with lack of technical support and training experience to learn how to navigate this and many other sites. I don’t have time to trial and error figure it all out. MAKE IT CLEAR AND SIMPLE!!!!!

  • http://www.bookreviewsbyangy.com Angy

    I too find it difficult to navigate, confusing and I have no idea what it is supposed to offer. The same people I am linked to are on Facebook.

  • Wise One

    Clearly the lot of you have no intention of professional networking nor understand the concept. Possibly you have no professional career path and flip burgers for a living. LinkedIn will probably not benefit you if you fit into this category. Regardless of whether the site is difficult to navigate or not, LinkedIn is a must have valuable asset to anyone in a ‘professional’ arena. I have made many connections to headhunters, entrepreneurs, same position professionals and other like-minded people. I know people that have taken up professional positions in completely different countries paying six-figure salaries through an initial random private message on LinkedIn from a random person (i.e. the job came to them!). Whether you are job hunting or not, it enables you to get out yourself out there.

    Good luck trying to get the same attraction or purpose on another social networking site.

  • http://www.technicolorgoldfish.net Suzanne

    LinkedIn can be helpful for finding new advertising companies to work with and new affiliates, and reading interesting marketing discussions, and it can be handy to keep in touch with past coworkers without being their “friend” on FB. I’ve never used it in job searching and am actually surprised to hear that is the main focus of the site. As useful as it can be in networking, I admit I usually don’t think to log in very often.

  • Jean Minthe

    Amazing to see all negative comments about design and unease of use, which I agree with. I think the actual confusion reflects the lack o precision in Linkedin positioning. We live in times of confusion, frontiers are not as defined as they were, Work/Leisure, Public/Private, Information/entertainment, Friends/Connections… All web based network grow on that confused ground, that is why they attract so many people. Linkedin wants to be different, and that might be its principal weakness, because its differences seem wrongly chosen. Being reliable doesn’t mean being stark. Being professional doesn’t mean being exclusively focused on work. Being serious doesn’t mean forgetting about being simple. Beyond that Linkedin shows some surprising weakness. It seems driven by numbers (number of connections, number of times a profile as been viewed…). We all know that quality and quantity rarely walk hand in hand, especially in Networking. Adding now an item about Volunteering and claiming it is on users’ request could hardly be considered as a major progress as it so common in traditional CV presentation. It claims to be focused on job, that for not the right place to post holiday pictures and such, like Facebook users do. OK. But what do Human resource people when they find an interesting profile? They go and check it out on Facebook! The point is, I think, Linkedin misses its target because it still has a traditional view on professional Networking. Of course it is a useful tool for recruiting and it might be helping some people (who have enough time to understand the way it works, and to advertise themselves – which is not a proof of work efficiency) to be visible, but it certainly could be a lot more than just that. It is underutilized because it is underoptmized… hope for this to change fast or it will quickly be replaced by a more open, simple and reactive Network.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/larrywilliams4u Larry

    I like LinkedIn and use it to network and try to find employment. At this point, I believe it is the best business networking tool available.

    It doesn’t look or feel like Facebook, because it isn’t supposed to be used like Facebook. Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn is for business.

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