By Ben Cerroni –

The last column I wrote for the Advocate was focused on the growing social network called Facebook, an online database of personal profiles that allows a user to connect with others in their social lives.

But there is another social network out there growing just as feverishly as Facebook, just in a different niche. LinkedIn is a social network with a focus on the professional world. It is similar to Facebook in that it is an online database of personal profiles and groups, but instead of pictures and status updates, LinkedIn shares an individual’s resumes, work experience and skill-sets to other professionals in the LinkedIn network. To be a LinkedIn member is free and only takes a few minutes to set up your professional profile.

What makes LinkedIn such a powerful tool is not only its ability to connect you with people already in your professional network, but also connect you with the extended networks of those people. If, for example, you are looking for an internal connection at a company you are hoping to apply to, you can check your LinkedIn network to see if someone you know has that internal connection you are looking for. By joining LinkedIn, you easily gain access to many more networks than you could manage without the social network, and all with the click of a mouse.

Another great aspect of LinkedIn is the online job board. Companies looking to hire new employees can post job openings on LinkedIn and search the pool of candidates that match the job’s qualification. Oppositely, employees looking to gain employment can search by company to see if there is an opening for their dream job and can then message the company to inquire about the position. This creates a much more effective and efficient way for companies and job seekers to find each other and make better employment matches.

So if you are looking to expand your professional network, consider joining the 150 million users that are already taking advantage of the free and user-friendly social network.

Ben Cerroni, a college grad we reported on in last June’s issue, is moving to Bostonto start a new job. He is going to stay involved with Granite Peak Web Solutions, and will monitor the Advocate monthly.

Technology Update: Linked In