LinkedIn is a social networking platform used for business and professional networking. The site has registered around 35 million users in over 170 industries.

The site aims to give registered users a pool of contact details from people that they are professionally acquainted with. LinkedIn users are labeled ‘Connections,’ and these users can invite other people to become connections.

How do LinkedIn users benefit from their connections list?

Here are some of the ways that users apply LinkedIn:

  • A network of contacts is assembled using direct connections. Each direct connection has second-degree connections. Each second connection has third degree connections. All these users can obtain access to each other’s details. One connection can link to the others through a mutual user.
  • This system can give the primary user details about other people and business prospects.
  • Companies can display a list of jobs and look for possible hires.
  • Prospective employees can browse through human resource profiles and determine whether any existing connections can introduce them to the hiring managers.

Communication with any professional in the extended network necessitates a pre-existing connection or the intercession of a direct contact. This practice (called the gated-access method) helps to foster trust among users of the platform.

LinkedIn Answers is a feature of the platform, which is comparable to Yahoo! Answers or Google Answers. This permits users to post queries and have the rest of the community as a resource for information. This free feature’s main difference from the previous search engine services is that queries are within the range of business topics. The identities of the people who ask, as well as the people who answer, are disclosed.

LinkedIn Groups is a ‘searchable’ section of the platform. It gives users the opportunity to build new business connections through industry, professional, or alumni groups, among others.

Much like some social networking platforms, a mobile version of LinkedIn was launched early in 2008. It offers some of the basic features of LinkedIn for access through mobile phones. The service is available in English, German, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese.

Mid-year in 2008 saw the launch of LinkedIn’s DirectAds for subsidized advertising.

October 2008 saw the introduction of LinkedIn’s ‘applications program’, which permits the inclusion of online services in a user’s profile webpage. Initial applications included:

  • Amazon’s Reading List, wherein users showcased books they were reading; and
  • A WordPress and Six Apart application where members displayed their most recent blog posts using their LinkedIn accounts.