Oct 31, 2016 / by Jim Dougherty

LinkedIn sometimes feels like the forgotten social network.

A majority of professionals have profiles on the site, although only 22.6% are active each month (LinkedIn has 467 million members, 106 monthly active as of October 2016). The same earnings report shows that LinkedIn generates 65% of its revenue by job recruiting, perhaps reinforcing the belief that LinkedIn is for job seekers (ads and promoted content constitute 26% of revenue, Premium Subscriptions represent 17%). And don’t forget the most sensational LinkedIn news this year has been that Microsoft is looking to get regulatory permission to close on their proposed purchase at the end of the year.

What most people discern from this is that LinkedIn is a great platform for job seekers, and perhaps doesn’t have a lot of utility for other purposes. If this approximates your thoughts about LinkedIn, this post is intended to give you a broader perspective about how LinkedIn can be more useful for you in your everyday life.

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Jay Greene writes that LinkedIn’s objective is to increase engagement with the site, which is why they’ve built out such a rich complement of features. Perhaps you won’t be a superuser in a traditional sense (spending an unusual amount of time interacting with the platform), but many underutilized features may make LinkedIn much more useful for you.

1. Job Search (On the DL)

linkedin incognito

It’s not a secret that LinkedIn is the premier job search platform, although its effectiveness to fill jobs is debatable (many studies demonstrate that networking and internal hiring are more useful for hiring than LinkedIn, although LinkedIn recruiting revenue intimates that a lot of hiring happens from LinkedIn as well). As one of my favorite LinkedIn aficionados likes to point out: it is conspicuous when someone is looking for a new job, because few people spend a lot of time on LinkedIn unless they are job searching.

LinkedIn just released a new feature that allows you to signal that you are open to contact from recruiters and set preferences for the industries and employment that you are open to pursuing. So what’s new about this? Unlike a typical job search or profile information, you can make this information incognito (meaning that recruiters affiliated with your current employer wouldn’t be able to see this). This is available on your Preferences page and is very easy to set and navigate.

2. Mobile (Everything)

60% of traffic to the LinkedIn platform comes from mobile. This is consistent with many platforms but somewhat counterintuitive given the demographics and utility of the service. In addition to rebuilding their mobile data structure (end of 2015), LinkedIn has a rich complement of standalone mobile apps (all apps are available for iOS and Android, links are to iOS):

Another tip to optimizing LinkedIn mobile is to sync your calendar with the LinkedIn app. This gives you contextual reminders from LinkedIn (if you have a meeting with a contact, for example). You can enable this feature in the LinkedIn mobile app, go to “Add Connection,” then enable “Sync Calendar.”

3. Courses (LinkedIn Learning)

If you’re a LinkedIn user, you’ve most likely heard about LinkedIn Learning, a vast library of professionally filmed courses on a broad range of topics. Although this is new to LinkedIn, it is an integration of the Lynda library (which LinkedIn acquired in 2015). Very similar to online course offerings from (for profit) Udemy, or free platforms EdX and Coursera. Jill Duffy and Jordan Minor writing for PC Mag called Lynda “hands-down one of the best sources for online learning.” High praise. They also single out Lynda for multimedia software and coding instruction. They also have four banjo courses, although I can’t find a reputable review of that content.

maximize your media channel mix banner

LinkedIn Learning is a free benefit to LinkedIn’s Job Seeker, Business Plus, or Executive subscriptions. This differs from the Lynda pricing model which is ala carte with “regular” and “premium” levels.

4. Publishing

In a recent post about distributed content, I wrote about the opportunity to publish (blog) posts on LinkedIn.

Distributed content is content that you post to a third-party platform, rather than an owned property. The decision to publish directly to the LinkedIn is largely a decision of audience.

You have a small, but segmented audience (your present and future contacts). Depending on how you choose to use LinkedIn, distributed may be a worthwhile option on the platform. Jamie Mottram of USA Today writes that distributed content allows him greater reach and monetization opportunities because of the increased mobile upload times.

The first iteration of the LinkedIn Publishing platform was a little clunky (compared to WordPress, Blogger, or other writing programs), but last month LinkedIn revamped the tools making it very minimal and functional.

If publishing (or repurposing) content to your LinkedIn contacts or prospective employers makes sense – this may be a content option to pursue. The Slideshare below discusses best practices and how to get picked up for bigger public distribution.



5. Groups

Writing for HuffPo, J.D. Gershbein says that LinkedIn Group engagement is demonstrably down. This may be your experience, or you may have been a part of spammy groups in the past, but Gershbein points out that there are still pockets of genuine engagement within LinkedIn Groups.

As with content, the determining factor of contributing is why you’re on LinkedIn. As a source for discussion around a particular topic, there are still rich communities to draw from on LinkedIn, very similar to the less symmetrical audiences on Google Plus communities.

6. Rapportive

One of the star acquisitions for LinkedIn (in my opinion) is Rapportive, LinkedIn’s Chrome and Firefox extension that shows you the public or private (if you’re connected) LinkedIn profile when writing emails in Gmail.

Of course, there are plenty of caveats to using this – you have to use Gmail and use one of two browsers (one hopes Microsoft Edge will integrate as well post-acquisition). In any event, it is super-helpful to have the context of a LinkedIn snapshot available when you’re drafting an email.

A quick aside: Often mentioned as a competitor to Rapportive, Clearbit is perhaps not as rich with Rapportive-like features. Clearbit doesn’t give you the contextual information that Rapportive provides, simply a name and image. Where it may compete with LinkedIn is with InMail, unsolicited contact to another network member. Clearbit allows you to look up a person by name and corporate domain, essentially performing the same task (perhaps a little less expensively as well).

7. Slideshare

Speaking of LinkedIn’s acquisitions, Slideshare continues to be a smart tool to add shareability to presentations. Not only does Slideshare offer a public cloud to store and share presentations (with versatile embed options), but also drives annual traffic of about 70 million users. While this isn’t social behemoth level traffic (recall that LI proper has over 100 million users per month), it is an impressive amount of traffic.

An additional aspect of Slideshare that is special is its embed function. Not that it’s unique, but embedded presentations can tell a more holistic story in a finite space. Paul Bradshaw of Online Journalist Blog writes that embedding content may be as important as linking to justify and add depth to a story.


Of course, if you want to be a LinkedIn superuser, you’ll also want to keep your profile relevant. You may want to do something old-school cool like import your LinkedIn contacts into your address book by downloading to a .csv file. A superuser (for our purpose) is understanding the LinkedIn tools and using the ones that will make you more productive.

Whether you immerse yourself in everything LinkedIn offers or just use a few of their (increasing) services, I hope this post demonstrates that LI is a richer ecosystem of apps and services than most people acknowledge or use.

Get more tips that will help you build a strong, relatable presence on social media by downloading Engage in Social Conversations Around Your Brand. This free guide outlines how to participate on key networks without wasting resources or missing opportunities.

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About Jim Dougherty

Jim Dougherty is a featured contributor to the Cision Blog and his own blog, leaderswest. His areas of interest include statistics, technology, and content marketing. When not writing, he is likely reading, running, playing guitar or being a dad. PRSA member. Find him on Twitter @jimdougherty.