Did you join LinkedIn because someone you know invited you and you didn’t want to hurt his or her feelings, but now you’re wondering why you did it?

Guess what? If you wrinkle your nose in disgust when someone mentions “social media,” LinkedIn is for you!

Because LinkedIn is not like MySpace and Facebook. It’s not where teenagers post pictures of their high school prom or their latest beach party.

LinkedIn was built for professionals who want to use their existing and future social networks to build a career. And for companies that want to find qualified employees. And for job-hunters.

linkedinfordummiesAnd fortunately for you, there is now a “Dummies” book about LinkedIn. It’s LinkedIn For Dummies by Joel Elad.

This book will tell you everything you need to know about LinkedIn, in language you can understand. It’s filled with screen shots, lists, and detailed instructions for doing everything from signing up and creating a profile to finding venture capitalists and angel investors to fund your startup.

Yes, you can even look for business financing on LinkedIn. The Answers section of LinkedIn has two appropriate categories for this topic: Startups and Small Business, and Venture Capital and Private Equity.

And if you’re looking for venture capital for your startup, you can even use LinkedIn to find experienced professionals for your “dream team.” With tens of millions of experienced professional members, LinkedIn should be the first resource you use to recruit a management team.

But let’s start with the basics.

Information for Employers

If your HR department is trying to fill a job, here’s how they can do that on LinkedIn:

  • Search all LinkedIn People profiles using specific keywords.
  • Look at each candidate’s profile, which includes education, experience, and recommendations.
  • Look at their network to see if you have any connections to them.
  • Contact them or one of your connections to them for more information.
  • Look at any questions they have answered to learn more about them.
  • Do all of this online in the privacy of your office.

The LinkedIn profile is exactly like a resume, but it holds a lot more information. It includes fields for education, jobs, experience, interests, awards and honors, and personal information. Job-hunters can add extensive information about their experience at each job that they could never include on a paper resume.

They can also ask previous employers to recommend them, and those recommendations appear on their profile. They can even upload a picture. Have you ever seen a picture on a resume?

Imagine having access to all of that information when you need to hire someone. Instead of wading through hundreds of documents to eliminate candidates, you can build a search query to select the best ones from the start.

There is only one caveat: you must sign up for a paid account to see full profiles of people outside your network.

Information for Job-Hunters

If you’re looking for a job, here’s what you can do on LinkedIn:

  • Create a detailed personal profile because there are over 130,000 recruiters on LinkedIn.
  • Search the Jobs database using specific keywords, job titles, and geographic locations.
  • See company profiles and current employees.
  • Use your connections to get an introduction or informational interview.
  • Search for people who used to work for a company and contact them.
  • Do all of this without taking time off from work.

Yes, it might take a few hours to create a complete profile on LinkedIn. But once you’ve done it, you’ll never have to send out a paper resume again.

Oh sure, many employers still ask for one. But look at it from their point of view. The old way of filling a job was very tedious and time-consuming:

  • Post the job ad somewhere, usually in multiple places.
  • Receive dozens of resumes and other documents.
  • Spend weeks and even months going over all of that information.
  • Invite the best candidates to interview.
  • Call their references.
  • Select the best candidate.

Is there a new way? See Information for Employers above.

Can you understand why some recruiters might use LinkedIn before they do anything else? Do you see how many recruiters are on LinkedIn?

Information for Independent Contractors

If you’re an independent contractor, here’s what you can do on LinkedIn:

  • List your business in the Service Providers directory.
  • Send business updates to your network.
  • Create a group or join an existing group related to your business.
  • Ask your clients on LinkedIn to recommend you.
  • Answer questions to establish your expertise.
  • Search the People database on specific keywords to find potential clients.

As an independent contractor with a LinkedIn profile, I have to say that LinkedIn isn’t set up for independent contractors. It’s set up for companies, employees and jobs.

Yes, I could call my clients “employers” and my projects “jobs,” but it isn’t my preference. And how do I enter a “job” that lasted only five hours?

If you want to be seen as an expert in a given field, include references to any articles or books you’ve written, articles you’ve been quoted in, focus or advisory groups you belong to, and any speaking engagements or discussions you’ve participated in,” Elad says.

But where would you put this information? The Profile page is set up like a resume. All you can do is list your education, employers, and job titles. Even entries in the Experience section are linked back to specific jobs.

So where would you list a book that you wrote? Or the one-hour keynote speech you gave at a recent conference? The Interests section just doesn’t seem appropriate for this type of information.

But this is just my personal gripe about LinkedIn, not Elad’s book.

Have I convinced you that a LinkedIn profile might be one way to advance your career or build your business? If so, get a copy of Elad’s 300-page book and start reading it.

Because relationships matter.

Social Media Examiner gives this book a 5-star rating.

What do you think about LinkedIn? If you are using LinkedIn, please share your experience! Comment below…

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  • I haven’t actually utilized this service yet. Keyword is (Yet) :-). Probably be a great book to pick up if I decide to take the plunge.

  • LinkedIn has become an integral part of my work with clients, my counsel for clients and customers, as well as an excellent way to enhance my personal brand as well as that of my organization.

  • LinkedIn is by far my favorite social media platform. As a freelance writer, I have landed more gigs through LinkedIn than any other social media platform I use. What appeals to me is that it is more professional than most. The key is in joining groups and sharing ideas and information. It allows you to showcase your knowledge and is a good source for providing referrals.

    For me, the groups are only as good as the owner who created the group. Some have deteriorated into schlocky sales promotions but if you get in a group where the owner has at least some control on blatant sales pitches, it’s really worthwhile.

    I just hope LinkedIn retains its professionalism.

  • About a third of my blog traffic comes from LinkedIn (too bad I don’t try to make money with my blog) and a big reason I get that traffic is I spend time reading my community posts and I comment on whatever is the topic of the day. Helps me choose a subject and when I reference my post later I get a lot of traffic.

  • I like Linked In due to the level of professionalism found within. I agree with Cathy Miller when it comes to the “spamming” within the groups, but most owners of the discussions get the conversation back around to simple ideas, experiences and overall discussions.

    I have found many lost friends through Linked In and I find it a viable avenue to build my potential client and business partner list.

  • Timely article. I am giving Linkedin a closer look these days. I just posted a discussion in my Linkedin groups asking if Linkedin is better than Facebook for Lead Generation.
    Our company analytics findings suggest that we are getting more qualified leads from Linkedin.
    As a B2B offering online marketing services we are always looking for better ways to help our customers. I am finding that in social media marketing it is essential to customize a plan for each individual client. Linkedin is just one avenue, as you stated it does have a few shortcomings.

  • This article is very timely. I didn’t know much about LinkedIn, but your feedback and resources were a big help. Thank you!

  • LinkedIn is a massively under utilised tool for generating new connections, particularly with people you would not ordinarily come into contact with.

    I run workshops and webinars on LinkedIn all the time. Here is the link if you are interested.


  • I have been using Linkedin for years and find it great,few years back I also ran a paid Advertisement for hiring – it worked and we got brilliant results.

  • theinspiredsolo

    Yes, LinkedIn is far more “acceptable” (should I say “palatable”?) to my lawyer clients, I find, than the Wild-West-wooliness of Facebook and Twitter. I’ve been looking at it a little more objectively myself lately, hoping to find some more creative ways to use it to help clients market their services.

  • Hi Ruth..

    I love how you bring up the greatness of the Dummies books. Just love the simplicity of these books.

    And here you make great connection between the book and how to use the information in a professional setting.

    For me this was also good timing. Working on some changes for my LinkedIn profile. Mostly to take advantage of the professional aspect of LinkedIn that I don’t find on other Social Networks.

    Thanks for the tip on this book.

    Cheers.. Are

  • I’m def a Linkdin

    I know there is more I can do with it, yet I don’t know how.

    This has def opened my eyes.

  • Nicely written. I conduct training on LinkedIn and like the “Let’s start with the Basics” approach.

  • Ademir Alvarado

    Last days: Linkedin BusinessInnovation of the Year let’s support Uriel and vote–>Sala de inversión!Takes2Minutes! #fb

  • I have found LinkedIn to be very useful. My blog posts to my groups generate a lot of traffic to my blog. Also, after I joined the Blog Zone subgroup, The Bloggers’ Bulletin, I was invited to be a contributor and have connected with other bloggers. We’re looking to build an audience for the Bulletin so here is the link if you would like to check it out Lots of good content.

  • Kevin

    I am finding Linked In to be more useful in building a professional network, even as an Independent Contractor. The fact I can promote my references via Linked In makes the service even more valuable.

  • Could someone answer this Dummy question? 🙂 I could not find the Services Provider directory. Do you need to pay a fee to have yourself listed in that directory? Or is it free?

  • Interesting points. I tend to focus on just a few social media sites – and LinkedIn isn’t one of them. But I will have to take a closer look to see whether it might infact me worth the time. Looks like a lower learning curve than some sites.

  • This post was very helpful to me. I’m an independent consultant and I was wondering about LinkedIn’s efficacy for my type of business. I joined months ago but do little with it. Good to know I haven’t been ignoring something perfect for my business development!!

  • Pavlina Radoslavova

    Infact in Bulgaria there is a similar e-book about the possibilities LinkedIn gives you to develop your business. It is free and you can find it here – . Unfortunately for now it is only in Bulgarian. The author is Alexnder Krastev a blogger, PR specialist and editor-in-chief of the biggest book site in the country.

  • Do you have any experience buying ads on LinkedIn.

  • Well said about LinkedIn. I started my Social Networking from LinkedIn. Its a very professional place to spend time in LinkedIn.


  • GOwen

    The book is a great book to get you started. I highly recommend it to anyone with interest in using LinkedIn as a social media platform.

  • While I would never say anything bad about my competition, my book on LinkedIn and social networking “Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing” has gotten a lot of great reviews on Amazon. You can check it out here:

    If you’ve read this far, I do have a few review copies for bloggers that I am giving out. Feel free to contact me for details! You can find me on all of the social media platforms or at my blog

  • ruthmshipley


    Someone posted a message containing the “F” word in one of the groups I belong to. It was in the title of the message. It was so unprofessional, I couldn’t believe it!

    Several people complained and asked that the offending member be kicked out of the group. But every time someone posts a complaint about it, I get the update and see the offensive word again and again and again. I can’t believe the group moderator – if there is one – lets this go on.

    And other groups have so many “blatant sales pitches” as you aptly put it. “Make money from home! Make thousands of dollars every month! I did it and so can you!”

    Some group members complain about those messages too, but the group powers-that-be never seem to do anything about it. Sometimes it’s very tedious to go through my daily group updates!

  • ruthmshipley

    Thanks for your comment!

    I always try to convince people to read these books. A book is still the most cost-effective way of transmitting lots of information. And the Dummies books are the best books for an absolute beginner.

  • ruthmshipley

    Thank you so much, Jenn.

  • Wow-I’m glad to say I never had an experience as bad as that! Recently, I had one group where you weren’t accepted until you linked up with the owner. When I did that I found the “Discussions” were numerous with 0 comments–maybe because they were all sales pitches–mostly by the owner.

    My response? Dump the group. It takes all kinds!

  • ruthmshipley

    Hello Steve:

    First, you must be logged in to find the Service Provider Directory.

    From your Home page, click More in the top menu, and click Companies. You’ll see a link for the Service Providers page over on the right. Click that, and you will get the Service Providers page.

    Unfortunately, you can’t add yourself to the Directory. You can only be listed if another LI member recommends you. LinkedIn does this to ensure that you are a bona fide service provider. In other words, you have at least one client, the person who recommended you.

    I have to confess that the Service Provider page is very strange. I have been recommended by another LI member who is in my network. So I tried to find myself in the Service Provider directory. But I couldn’t see any way to do it. There is no search box and the page focuses on recommendations that I have made.

    I haven’t recommended anyone, so there was nothing under the You tab. When I clicked the 1st degree connection tab, I saw 1st degree connections of mine who had recommended someone I didn’t even know! Same for the 2nd degree connections tab. And the Worldwide tab shows service providers who have been recommended by anyone on LinkedIn.

    But I never found any way to see if I was in the directory! Maybe when you’re logged in, you can’t see your own Service Provider record.

    But for anyone who is looking for a service provider, you just click one of the Categories on the right side of the page, and then click one of the tabs: You, 1st degree connection, 2nd degree connection, and worldwide.

    The results will show you service providers in that category in your network or worldwide who have been recommended by someone in your network or All LinkedIn Users. You can see how many recommendations they have received and can read one of the recommendations. I’m guessing it will be the latest one but all the providers I looked at only had one recommendation.

    I’m assuming it would be best to hire a service provider recommended by someone in your network.

    If anyone knows more about the Service Providers Directory, please chime in here. Thanks!

  • ruthmshipley


    Twitter has the lowest learning curve!

    My opinion of LinkedIn is that it’s mostly for job-hunters and companies who are trying to fill jobs. It has been less useful for me as an independent contractor. Especially on the free plan. You really need to sign up for one of the paid plans to get the most benefit from LinkedIn.

    I think it’s good to be on LinkedIn just to interact with other professionals. It’s a little harder to do that on Facebook and MySpace.

  • ruthmshipley

    I certainly don’t mean to discourage you, Kathleen.

    But I’m also an independent consultant and I haven’t gotten very much from LinkedIn. It is overwhelmingly focused on job-hunters and companies looking for employees. And I can’t afford the paid plans, but you can’t do much on the free plan.

    For example, I wanted to search companies in my target market, look at their employees who are on LinkedIn, and see if any were in my network. If so, I could use my connections to be introduced to them as a way of getting my foot in the door.

    But you can’t see very many company employees on the free plan. LinkedIn shows you about 10, and then says, “Upgrade to see more.”

    And many employees don’t put their personal name in their profile. Just their job title. And without a personal name, LinkedIn can’t tell me if they are connected to me. It’s been very frustrating.

    The other problem is that the profile is set up exactly like a resume. Another clue that LinkedIn is not set up for independent contractors. I have had projects that only lasted a few hours. Where would I put them? They’re not really “jobs.” And if I’m currently working on three different projects, can I have three “current” jobs?

    The other day, the message on my Home page told me my profile had turned up in search results 11 times in just the past three days! This happens all the time. Sometimes people even look at my profile. But I have never gotten any project from LinkedIn. I think when people find me and see that I’m an independent contractor, they turn away. They’re obviously looking for employees, not a consultant.

    I would love to hear from other consultants. How do you use LinkedIn? Is it working for you?

  • ruthmshipley

    Hello Phuong:

    No, I haven’t bought ads on LinkedIn.

    But every time I sign out of LinkedIn, I see two ads on the Signed Out page. But they are obviously not targeted to me! They’re ads for things I have absolutely no interest in. That’s the “old” style of advertising!

    On the other hand, on Facebook, you can create an ad that is targeted toward the people who should be interested, based on what keywords they put in their profile. That’s the NEW style of advertising! Why show your ad to people who probably don’t even care about what you’re advertising?

    I think YouTube also lets you target your video ad so it appears on the watch pages of videos about the same topic.

    So if I were going to advertise on social media, I would definitely use Facebook over LinkedIn. And if the product or service you’re advertising could best be explained in a video, I would use YouTube!

  • ruthmshipley


    It’s OK that you wrote another book about LinkedIn! The more the merrier. It gives people many choices. If they already know a lot about LinkedIn, a Dummies book might be too easy for them.

  • Thanks for the comment Ruth!

  • Thank Ruth.

    I agree with you here. Have Dummies book on Small Business, Twitter, Marketing, PHP and more.. They are really awesome. It’s kind of funny after I really got myself into blogging I find myself reading more books then I did before. Was never big on reading books, most books I read was more technical books and manuals. But I found that several of the Dummies books and books related to Social Media really adds an extra value to your information. So now I am listing to and paying attention to people that review books, like you did here.

    Cheers.. Are

  • Linkedin and other social media like twitter and facebook are very helpful for internet marketing. I think it’s also good for those who want to learn more from internet.

  • This is great news, in part because it shows the benefits from some of these VC’s opening Portland offices in the last year or so.

  • ronnietrainer

    Ruth this is excellent information! As a Corporate Recruiter I use Linkedin extensively and have a vast network set up! This has enabled me to maximize my recruting efficiency and save over 15k per year as I have downsized my usage of the big job boards which are becoming more of a waste of time and $$!

    Last year alone I hired 8 people that I first found through Linkedin! I search for candidates daily and have joined many industry relevant groups that allow me to post jobs for free on the group sites with a very good response rate!

    Linkedin is great for finding professional candidates as well as corporate marketing, branding and business development!

  • ruthmshipley


    Sorry to respond so late, but I really wanted to THANK YOU for your real-life testimony about the power of LinkedIn.

    Have you really reduced your use of the online job boards? That’s amazing! Not for them, of course! But think about it: All you can do on those boards is post a job. And then sit back and get applications from hundreds of people, many of whom may not even be totally qualified.

    And then you have to sift through all of those applications! You’re absolutely right – compared to what you can do on LinkedIn, it’s a HUGE waste of time.

    On LinkedIn, you can search for specific keywords that people have put in their profile. You can even search on job titles. If you’re on a paid plan – and I’m assuming you ARE – you can look at their network to see if you have any connections in common. Then you can contact those connections for information BEFORE you even contact the applicant! You can even see their recommendations before you contact them.

    No wonder 130,000 recruiters are on LinkedIn! They must be experiencing the same success you are.

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