For years, LinkedIn was somewhat shunned in the SMM (Social Media Marketing) industry as it had a lower user base than Facebook or Twitter, and due to the relatively dry nature of the system it was viewed as less engaging. Don’t scratch LinkedIn out of the list just yet. Whether you are a Realtor®, mortgage broker, or any other small (or big) business person, LinkedIn has several benefits for you and here’s our top 5 list, but not in specific order of importance. Depending on your business and the way you engage with your customers & social media, the importance of each one will differ.

1. Get more connections with people easily – better than Facebook friends!

The LinkedIn algorithm for finding “People you may know” is by far more powerful and more business oriented than that of Facebook. It searches not only based on your current connections (Facebook’s equivalent would be the algorithm that finds people you may know based on mutual friends), but also by the company at which people worked at, schools they went to, geographic location & business interests. Using this filter, I was personally able to find many more old connections that I may have forgotten about, since not everybody is on my Facebook, or for that matter, on Facebook at all. This brings me to another important point, and that many people do not use Facebook for privacy reasons, as they find it to be a much more personal ground. Even if they do, they do not want to add people to their Facebook beyond their close friends. But, LinkedIn is viewed as a more public and professional space, so even those who may not want to be your Facebook friend will probably happy to be your LinkedIn connection. Even the term “connection” is much less intrusive than “friend”.

2. Claim your place on Google’s 1st page

Unless you have a very generic name such as David Jones, you have a great shot at becoming the #1 search result on Google when somebody searches up your name. Go search up “Jeff Kee” for example on Google, and most (if not all) of the first 10 results are actually about me personally. Social media profiles always have your name on it of course, and it also can contain links back to your business website or your personal website, which is great for forging free back links to the websites you own. Don’t have a website? No problem – think of your LinkedIn page as your website which will show up when somebody searches your name. When a potential business prospect (or an employer) wants to do a background search on you through Google, your well-groomed LinkedIn page should be the centre of attention, not your Vegas trip photos on your Facebook. On a related note, here’s some important security tips for your Facebook page since the new timeline launch.

3. Relevant News & Updates

I’ve been using the LinkedIn news feature (I get it emailed to me, but you can also choose to log into the site to see them), and I love it. The news articles are filtered based on trending, popularity, and best of all, your profession & interests, meaning that they will be much more relevant to you than, say, hitting as a habit. These news articles have been a great source of information and thoughts for each day as I start my work hours. It saves me a lot of time compared to having to look through multiple news sites for information.

Also, LinkedIn has a feature for members to share links to other websites, articles and more. This means that you can see what your connections are talking about, and see if there’s any business opportunities anywhere. It also keeps you in tune of what’s trending and what you should be on the lookout for. You can also join Groups on LinkedIn based on your profession & interests, which is another great way to keep updated. And don’t be shy to share your blog posts or any interesting articles you found – show your expertise in your field!

LinkedIn users may be fewer, but with more relevancy

LinkedIn users may be fewer, but with more relevancy

4. Growing user base that is also relevant

LinkedIn, for a while, trailed far behind other social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter due to its more “rigid” appearance. However, LinkedIn’s member count increased by 60% in 2011 since their IPO. Their numbers are still smaller than that of Facebook, but the quality of the members is much higher. Facebook is accessible to everybody – whether you are a pre-pubescent high school kid trolling around for attention, or whether you are a senior trying to keep a tab of your grand children. However, LinkedIn, with its professional-purposes-only niche, contains many more quality connections who are actively engaged in business, and can be of value to you. In case you’re curious, as of April 2012, the numbers on Facebook are 845M active users, while LinkedIn reported 150M in contrast. We probably won’t see LinkedIn getting higher numbers than Facebook, ever, because of the limited usage – which is good news for the quality of each connection on LinkedIn.

5. Professional Appearance & Online Resume

Even if you’re not planning on being active on the social media scene, when a potential client (or employer) looks up your name on Google (which is commonplace these days) you will have a place to show your work & education history, as well as your personal interests. It beats having nothing online. LinkedIn’s profiles are much more geared towards your professional & educational track records rather than photos of you.