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LinkedIn Review

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The purpose of social networking sites is to keep you in contact with your friends and help you make new connections along the way. These services are great social tools, but rarely do you get many advantages in life from posting a simple status update. LinkedIn takes the ease of using social network sites to help you find career connections and give you a strong online reputation. This professional networking site launched in 2003 and is one of the most popular social sites in the professional world.

Once you sign in to your account, your homepage allows you to post an update. Here, you can mention how you're back on the job market again or celebrate recently being hired by a company. This page also gives you a summary of everything you could hope to know about growing your professional network. You get suggestions of people you may know, jobs you may be interested in and groups you may like. These widgets help you expand your connections outside of your small network.

For your profile, you add a list of your skills and areas of expertise so that employers can get a good picture of what you could bring to their companies. Your connections can endorse you for the skills you list, and when they do, it shows up as a status update. You can also post company blogs and articles on your profile wall.

You can get away with using LinkedIn for free and still get fantastic features, but there is a paid upgrade, which gives you more networking features. For instance, the paid upgrade gives you premium search filters and the ability to see who's viewed your profile and save files in LinkedIn's profile organizer.

The search function is phenomenal. By simply entering a person's name, you can see how you're connected. For example, if you search for an associate and they show up as a second-degree contact, it means you have a mutual connection. When you see a third-degree member, you can ask a connection to introduce you to someone who knows that member. You can also see what skills you have in common with everyone you search. We found this to be the strongest aspect of LinkedIn's social networking features.

LinkedIn can be a lifesaver if you are looking for employment. For employers, LinkedIn provides instant ways to find employees who are the right fit for their businesses.