Founded in May, 2003, LinkedIn is a social networking application geared to white collar professionals ages 25 to 65 that allows users to stay in virtual touch with their professional working colleagues.
The basic account level is free. Once a user has uploaded their personal contact information, thumbnail photo and career history (“Profile”), they can begin to be found by friends and those searching for individuals with matching qualifications or backgrounds. At the same time, users can grow their list of linked colleagues (“Contacts”) by searching for individuals who belong to their e-mail contact directories, share some of the same professional history or attended the same school(s). LinkedIn also has a smart widget, “People You May Know,” that constantly suggests possible new people to connect with. All successful Contacts are contingent on the invited person accepting the invitation.
For a monthly fee, users may upgrade to one of three premium membership levels: Business ($24.95), Business Plus ($49.95) and Executive ($99.95). Among the benefits of these levels are the ability to learn the identity of those viewing a profile, brokered introductions to target companies, upgraded hiring search capabilities and expanded in-network e-mail functionality. Reflecting the white collar nature of the membership’s current 70 million membership base is the fact that half of all premium account users claim their upgraded account fees as a yearly business expense.
Upgraded Levels of Membership
Although the basic level of LinkedIn membership offers powerful job search options, there are once again upgraded levels of membership to choose from within just this particular channel as well (Basic, Job Seeker, Job Seeker Plus). These entitle users to various benefits, including the newest feature of appearing at the top end of any Featured Job Applicants lists. LinkedIn users can also choose to advertise on the site (“Direct Ads”),find or share local networking events and tabulate potential connections separated by two or three degrees within the network