LinkedIn: Social Networks Aren’t Just for Socializing

Note: hyperlinks in red

Terri Nakamura - LinkedIn Connections

I think of Twitter as a cocktail party, and FaceBook as dinner party. Both can be fun, but they can also be noisy and full of drunk people.

LinkedIn is a place where business happens.

I’ve been on LinkedIn for four years. LinkedIn is a social network that allows you to make connections with trusted contacts and essentially create a personal Rolodex in the cloud. But it's much more than that.

In addition to the convenience of finding your important business connections in one place, it offers a host of useful resources for job seekers, sales people who are prospecting, and recruiters who are looking for qualified people to fill jobs. There are too many benefits to enumerate, but it’s not just a social network—it is a database of people and companies that can be searched geographically—and most of what it offers is freely available.

In 2006 my real-life best friend and fellow graphic designer started a job at PopCap, and she invited me to join LinkedIn. At the time, LinkedIn was populated with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business professionals, and required an invitation to join. In spite of its gated approach, its membership grew from five to eight million that year.

In 2007 when Facebook opened its doors to everyone and its membership took off, LinkedIn followed its lead, and by the end of the year it had more than 15 million users.

Unlike Facebook or Twitter, not everyone joins LinkedIn, but those who do recognize its value. Today LinkedIn has more than 80 million members across 200 countries and seven continents, and continues to grow at the rate of one new member per second.

When I opened my account, I invited a number of business associates to join me. But before I did, I spent time aggregating information, then wrote an introduction, cleaned up my resume and gathered other relevant data to populate my profile. At that time, profile pictures weren’t included, but they are now, and I think it is worthwhile to include a good photo that reflects the image you wish to project.

I'm not passing myself off as an expert, but I'm sharing what has worked for me.


Clean up your resume. Have someone with editing skills review it for spelling, grammar and punctuation. Don’t rely only on built-in grammar and spell checking tools, as they don’t necessarily detect context or poorly written prose.

Introduce yourself, including information prospective employers or colleagues would be interested to know. Your LinkedIn page is like an agent who promotes your image to others when you aren’t there to do it yourself. Think about the kinds of experiences you have that sets you apart from others who offer the same goods or services, and make your case.

Identify your affiliations with professional organizations and groups. For example, if you and a prospective employer are connected via an alumni group, that could be a point of connectivity. But LinkedIn is not Foursquare, and there isn’t a competition for the number of “badges” you display. Adding affiliations needs to be done sensibly.

If you feel you can contribute substantively, answer questions as an expert in your field. Members can pose questions, and you can enhance your reputation if you can answer, conceivably positioning yourself as a “go-to” person in a particular discipline.

Take time to consider and make note of your achievements and honors. Today I spoke with a friend who was cited as a tech maven in a Huffington Post story. I think most people would be interested to know about it, and it should be included in a profile.

Participating in your community as a volunteer demonstrates teamwork and good citizenship—attributes that are important to many employers and very often mirror their values. If you have contributed through volunteering, say so.

Who should you connect with? To begin, I think you should connect to real-life current and former colleagues, associates and employers. They know you and will accept your connection request.

And finally, identify people who can recommend you. You can ask a former boss or colleague if they will write a recommendation for you. You should ask only people who have direct knowledge of your work.

If someone takes the time to help you—I can’t stress this enough—you MUST thank them—preferably with a handwritten note. Why do that instead of sending an email? Because few people do it and it makes you stand out. I’m often amazed at how people fail to formally express thanks when someone goes out of their way to do something for them. There is a great story about the importance of handwritten thank you notes in Chapter 41 of Randy Pauch’s The Last Lecture. Read it.

LinkedIn has led to my receiving unsolicited job offers, which illustrates what it can do for people, even passively. It provides options to link to your Twitter feed and to post status updates, and recently partnered with Behance to link visual work samples to user profiles. But for the most part, you will find only salient information on LinkedIn Unlike an individual web site which must specifically be sought out, when a person is searching LinkedIn, they are already in the mode to find you.

It really is a no-brainer: An investment of time on your LinkedIn profile can be beneficial on a number of levels. And beside the strictly business end of things, there can be a social aspect of joining groups where others share your interests or expertise.

When I started using Twitter in 2008, I would occasionally see people refer to LinkedIn as a network for old people. Since then, I’ve seen my kids and their friends graduate from college, and more and more of these twenty-somethings are joining LinkedIn and asking to connect.

As LinkedIn has evolved and innovated, one thing hasn’t changed: IT WORKS.

One reader mentioned he'd received a LinkedIn invitation from me, which is a concern. Please beware—it could be spam.


  1. Great entry and tips! Very on point. LinkedIn is also a great research tool to seek out companies and to try to find insider connections, especially when you're on the job hunt.

    You're such a great writer. I wonder if you ever thought about writing a book.

    I always enjoy reading your entries!

  2. Dear Felice,

    Thank you so much for reading and for your additional comments.

    There were many more things to say about it, but in the end I realised it just wasn't possible to be all inclusive.

    Looking forward to our next chance to get together!

    Hugs, Terri

  3. Thank you Terri. You're motivating me to finally finish setting up my LinkedIn profile. Great suggestions and tips.

    On a related note, I agree with Felice You're a terrific writer. :-)

  4. A great article - thanks for sharing! :)

  5. Good points - thanks for the post, plus one question: do you think it is necessary to upgrade to get the full benefits of Linkedin? Or do you find the basic account works just fine? Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this.

  6. Most Awesome Post Terri!

    Your love of words makes for a very pleasurable read.

    Thank You for sharing your experience with LinkedIn.

    Love the hand written note suggestion.

    Love reading your posts! :-)

  7. Thanks for a thoughtful and interesting post Terri. I have had a Linkedin account for some time, have some great connections but haven't really done anything with it yet.

    Having read your article I realise that my presence there should have some purpose other than just 'being there' and that I need to update my profile to include what my goals are and what I can offer to others.

    Thanks for focusing my mind Terri..


  8. Great synopsis on the different benefits to social media and,more specifically,LinkedIn.I had recently worked on my profile and as you said-it works!Enjoyed the read.

  9. Terri,

    Thank you for your insight into a marketplace of social business. Funny thing is that I had really been working on my profile and networking over there and then you came in with this post, adding value and reassuring me at the same time — I really couldn't ask for more!

    Note that the LinkedIn API has only been around since last November — it was a closed platform which gives you a good indication of how valuable their database of information and companies really is.

    @Justanordinaryjoe I remember Terri saying that the basic LinkedIn membership holds alot of value and it's totally free. But that's a great question, @Terri do you also have a premium membership and how would you compare the both?

    I also loved the hand note suggestions, the founder of IMG Mark H. Mcormack says exactly the same thing. They are the company that got Rolex to Wimbledon + many huge milestone in events, fashion and celebs.

    Yet again another classic picture for a classic post (love the details). Hey, I thought i smelled class way back when i met you on Twitter Terr! :)



  10. Hi, you guys.

    First of all, many thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules to read this post. I'm very grateful!

    Second, I'm sorry I am behind in responding, so in order:

    Marty McPadden:

    Thank you, Marty, and I hope you find LinkedIn to be useful. Once you set up your profile, it's a matter of occasionally adding or tweaking, so it's not high maintenance. If I can help in any way, you have my email address! ((HUGS))


    Thank you and you're welcome!


    JAOJ, unless you are in HR in a large company or a head hunter, I don't think a paid account is necessary. However, some people are DYING to see who has viewed their profiles, and the only way to find out is through a paid membership.

    If you plan to utilize "InMail" introductions, a paid account would be worth considering. I haven't used InMail to connect with second or third level connections, but sometimes there is "one person" who is out of your network who could make all the difference, and being introduced by a mutual contact is definitely an advantage.

    Best wishes and thanks for stopping by!

    Daniel Stoica:

    Thanks Daniel! You've always been incredibly supportive and I'm so glad Twitter brought us together. I'm grateful you found it worthwhile to read, and appreciate your comments. Thanks for taking the time to post them! ((Hugs))

    Tony Hastings:

    Tony, lots of people have dormant LI accounts. LI is most useful when you have an objective — like finding a job or researching a company. So chances are you haven't had a reason to use it.

    I'm of the opinion that people should spend a bit of time to craft their profiles. After that, there isn't a huge need to revisit it, except from possibly an SEO standpoint. I believe new connections and activity are detected and may influence where you turn up on Google search.

    Thank you again for reading, Tony! ((HUGS))

    Muna Al Gurg:

    Muna, thank you for checking out the post. By spending time on your profile, I hope you find it worthwhile. Best wishes to you!

    Ahad Bokhari:

    Dear Ahad, it means a lot to have you read and weigh in. Thanks for taking the time.

    The chapter in "Last Lecture" I referred to is about a young woman who wanted be a Disney Imagineer and had applied to Carnegie Mellon's ETC graduate program, where Randy Pausch was a professor. He came upon her handwritten note to say thanks for helping her make arrangements. It wasn't a "suck up" letter as it was mailed to a non-influential staff person, but the note had been placed in her file and Pausch came upon it.

    After reflecting on the type of person who would take the time to do that, he decided to admit her to the program even though she was only a B+ student.

    The young woman graduated with her masters degree and is now an Imagineer. How's that as an example of the power of a handwritten note!

    Writing thank you notes was drummed into my being at a very young age. People appreciate being acknowledged!

    (((Hugs))) Terri

  11. Love your post Terri! Linked in is definitely the place where business happens. Love your tips about updating your profile and asking for recommendations. Thank you for bringing light to the importance of the use of LinkedIn for business professionals. It not just a social network, it is a lot more.

  12. Dear Eva,

    Thanks for stopping by to read this!

    When starting a LI profile, most people need to request recommendations. If no one realises you are there, unsolicited recommendations are likely to materialise.

    After establishing your presence there, clients or colleagues who connect with you may feel compelled to write a recommendation on their own initiative.

    You have the option to accept and "show" it on your profile, or not.

    On another note, I've really missed seeing you. I'm sorry our schedules don't overlap more!

    Thanks and (((Hugs))) Terri

  13. a fan3:27 PM

    Smart and practical! What great information and in the usual wonderful style... always a pleasure to read!

  14. Anonymous3:41 PM

    Dear Terri-

    Thanks for the post, the kick in the behind and for adding to my workload:). I guess I've been spending too much time at the cocktail party...

    I wish LI was more fun. But wait, getting unsolicited offers is fun. Thanks again. Off I go to spruce up the LI house.

    Best from Miami.


  15. A fan:

    Hi, a fan! Thanks very much for taking the time to read and comment! Have a great day!

    (((HUGS))) Tink


    Mike, thank you for reading my post. The cocktail party rocks, so there's no need to stop unless you're in danger of TUI (tweeting under the influence!)

    LI is not fun. I think they've TRIED to make it more fun by linking Twitter and allowing status updates, but at its core it's no nonsense. I guess a blessing and bummer at the same time!

    Nice to meet you and looking forward to getting to know you!

    Cheers/hugs, Terri

  16. Terri,
    Hi, this is very well written. I'm new to social media and still uncomfortable with the concept, articles like this help make it more palatable.

    Great advice,


  17. Dear Tracy,

    Thanks so much for having a look. For someone who is new to social media, I think you are doing an incredibly great job!

    If you have questions or if I can help in any way, please feel free to contact me :-)

    Hugs, Terri

  18. I'll add to the praise for this fine article, Terri. I've already passed it on to some of the young job-seekers that I've been counseling lately. Nice job!

  19. Dear Lar,

    I appreciate you taking the time to read this and passing it along. My youngest son read it and made fun of the reference telling people to read Randy Pauch's book. When I explained the premise (that he was terminally sick and wanted to pass along some life lessons for his children), then shared the story, he understood.

    It's a tough market out there, and I think job seekers should take advantage of the tools available — especially LinkedIn because it's free and offers so much.

    I hope you and I can snag a lunch together sometime before the end of the year, but in the meantime, thank you again for taking time from your busy schedule to read this post!

    Love, Terri

  20. Absolutely agree with your article.

    Being a contractor/freelancer, I find Linked in so valuable to my profession as well as seeing and keeping tabs on what new ventures and projects are out there.

    Though I do hate Recruitment Consultants adding you and using your name to get their way in to new clients. But hey it works both ways.

    We need the recruitment consultants as much as they needs us.

    A bit like A-Listers and Paparazzi :)


  21. Dear Harry,

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

    The recruitment consultants haven't been too annoying except one who had the nerve to ask me to do something on spec. Uh uh. There are not a lot of self-respecting pros who will unless the stakes are very high.

    Re: A-Listers/Paparrazi — Sometimes I think our existences are almost entirely symbiotic!

    Many thanks again :-)


  22. Good article. You did put everything into perspective with the social networking sites. I too have a Linkedin account. I haven't had one for as long as you have had one for, I think I've only had mine for a year now. But it has served as great professional site to connect with other professionals and see what new job opportunities are available not just with the company I work for but with other companies as well. I have been on a couple interviews in fact from this networking site based off my connections. Its only been a year and I am noticing more and more people on here. I need to work on my recommendations as I speak on here.

    Did you have a good Thanksgiving?

  23. Dear Eric,

    Thanks for your comments. It's great to hear you are getting something out of LinkedIn. I think people get back what they put into it.

    I especially love that you asked about my Thanksgiving :-) It was lovely. How was yours?



  24. It was nice, always good to spend time with family. I was able to spend time with my wife's family this year which was nice.

    As you just said, "I think people get back what they put into it," this is true, and holds true in life itself. I often hear about people telling me what they want, but are not willing to put in the time to make it happen. We both know that "life doesn't just happen, life happens just" -Jim Rohn.

    Thanks for the reply, hope all is well, and Stay Blessed --- Keep in Touch!

  25. Hi Terrinakamura!

    I agree with your points here. I think most websites rely on their social network web design these days to attract more members and potential company partners for advertisements. And I think part of this social networking development is how people use such website - keeping in-touch with friends, colleagues, friends, and the likes. LikedIn is a great way to keep up with other professionals. Nice article, by the way.

  26. Hi Terrinakamura!

    I agree with your points here. I think most websites rely on their social network web design these days to attract more members and potential company partners for advertisements. And I think part of this social networking development is how people use such website - keeping in-touch with friends, colleagues, friends, and the likes. LikedIn is a great way to keep up with other professionals. Nice article, by the way.

  27. Hi Terrinakamura!

    I agree with your points here. I think most websites rely on their social network web design these days to attract more members and potential company partners for advertisements. And I think part of this social networking development is how people use such website - keeping in-touch with friends, colleagues, friends, and the likes. LikedIn is a great way to keep up with other professionals. Nice article, by the way.

  28. First, I love that you reply to others... the interaction is so helpful!
    Second, I'm still having so much trouble w/ all the social media... it consumes so much of my time + yet I have a business and website to run... I simply cannot do it all.
    would you consider writing a post about how to take on specifically twitter +fb in bite sized pieces -what to do first, what should be bare minimum -how to build on those things and keep advancing?
    or do you have a resource to point me to?
    you are a great writer and very thorough. thank you! I will be tweeting this post! Blessings! -Ellie

  29. Ellie, thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I think you also tweeted a link to this post, so thank you, though I accidentally cleared my mentions column tonight! (Drat that Tweetdeck!)

    There may be articles on Mashable's web site that could help you, but if you'd like to contact me via DM, I'll send you my email address and I'd be happy to try to help you get a game plan going.

    If you let it, it can completely consume your life.

    Looking forward to connecting further, and thanks again for reading!

    Cheers, Terri

  30. This post resonated for me in that I can look at my relationship with each of LinkedIn, Facebook, and now Twitter, and see how each caters to the strong yet different parts of my personality. I also kept a blog for four years, much of that time anonymously, but last year I took off the mask so to speak. I've worked as a corporate manager for 14 years, but also have identity as a writer (fiction and essay) and artist. Through the years, my relationship with social media has played into these different personas.

    This year I stop blogging (because I had limited time for my creative pursuits) and about a month ago started using Twitter. I identified myself in my Twitter profile in part by my job, which signals the first time I'm embracing both my corporate and artist/writer roles. I then went in and updated LinkedIn to also reflect my creative side (previously it was only my business persona).

    I want to be consistent in all my social media profiles. I may use them differently, but I've decided that in all cases I am who I am--an often silly person who brings my whole creative self into all my roles.

  31. Roma, thanks so much for reading and commenting.

    I think it's impossible to completely separate the different parts of ourselves on FB, Twitter or LinkedIn, so the fact that you've incorporated different facets of yourself on each makes sense. It will help create a more dimensional notion of who you are, over all.

    It's interesting you and I both kept our blogs under wraps for a long time. For me, I think it was because I lacked confidence in myself and my writing, and I didn't want to subject it to analysis or criticism.

    But after cancer I came to really comprehend that old saying, "life is short," and when I finally had the energy to resurrect it, I decided to go public with it.

    I looked at your Etsy wares and see you are artistically prolific and very creative. I applaud the effort you put into various forms of expression. You inspire me to try to find time to write!

    Thanks again and I'm looking forward to getting to know you better in the coming months.

    Cheers, Terri

  32. Smart, clear and articulate. I think I have found a great blog to follow. I use LinkedIn and I am amazed when I find it deployed simply as part of a blanket approach to lighter Social Media forms such as Twitter or Facebook.

    Good to meet you, Terri.

  33. Dear Gar,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! I appreciate it!

    Last night I was talking to someone who was describing a great way to use groups to make contacts with potentially helpful people and at the end of the day, she got a great job that way.

    I think the possibilities are limited only by one's imagination!

    Nice to connect with you both here and on Twitter!


  34. Reading this, I realised that we are not connecting #in - may I ask why you don't include your LinkedIn profile link/connect button (and perhaps a share plugin) on your blog? See mine for how it appears in three ways -

    I think you may also enjoy my articles on Quora - my latest favorite toy.

  35. Hi Terry, nice to meet you, i'm Riccardo from rome, a football reporter...nice blog! compliments...i'm just following you here and on twitter, hope you'll do the same for me, come to vist
    see you...a kiss for a good monday

  36. I've been on LinkedIn a lot longer than most people... almost from its inception.

    I haven't been so lucky as to do any real business on it, but I'm eager to learn how :)

  37. Ray, first thanks for taking a look at this. It might help explain my strange obsession with wanting my connections there to be...verifiable, I guess?

    I think those who most benefit are either looking for a job or looking to hire someone for a job. Since you and I are not seeking either, that may be why it hasn't delivered for you so far.

    Like all things, the amount of effort expended has a bearing on what benefits are realised, and people I know who practically live on the site have experienced very impressive outcomes.

    Cheers and thanks again for looking/Terri

  38. Thank you so much... i didnt have the knowledge in this now i get an idea about this.. thks a lot

    Maven Business Consultancy

    1. Hi Kaviya,

      Thanks for the comment.

      As a business consultant, I'm sure you must use it a lot.

      Good luck,

  39. thnx for the information..
    blog is really gud.
    Social Communities

    1. Hi, SEO.

      Thanks for the comment.

      What is "Social Communities?



Post a Comment


i'm a graphic designer who loves words. - terri nakamura