So you have Facebook, Twitter and maybe Google+. They’re all great platforms that help you reach mass audiences quickly and inexpensively (if you know what you’re doing). But what about Linkedin, the unloved brother of the social media giants?

It’s a shame, because so many people could use Linkedin effectively to further their careers in ways they could have never expected, but think of it more as somewhere to just jot down some memorable career achievements. In essence, LinkedIn is an online portfolio but if that’s all you use it for, then you’re missing out on some effective practices that can help you in the long run.

What is Linkedin?

Launched on May 5, 2003, Linkedin is designed as a social network for professionals, bringing people from all over the world together to communicate about their industries. On the surface, Linkedin is a website where your employment details and experience are the focus, instead of the statuses about what you ate for breakfast that day. It’s an online resume and portfolio of your achievements.

Why You Should Use It

It’s more professional: When you scroll down your Facebook feed, you’ll see pictures of people partying, posts with users arguing over politics, and funny cat memes. While that works more for Facebook, the Linkedin community has a more professional atmosphere. It’s a great place for you to showcase your credentials and abilities while also proving you have what it takes to succeed in your chosen career path.

Find new contacts: No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll find relevant people on Linkedin. For example, if you’re in real estate, it’s almost guaranteed that everyone in real estate in your area already has it. No matter what you’re doing, this is a great way to meet new contacts that can help you professionally. It’s modern networking but with anyone at any time, anywhere in the world. You can chat, send files, share links and communicate with like-minded professionals with similar goals.

Linkedin groups are booming: Like Facebook, Linkedin uses groups to let people talk to other professionals in the same field all at once. Some groups even allow for more toned down, easy-going conversations so you don’t need to spend all your time in the groups acting like you’re in the boardroom.

Information for potential employers: Let’s say you’re looking for a new job. Many prospective employers will search Linkedin for potential candidates because it’s an easy way to source future targets without having to rely on receiving their resumes. This is great for people in trades or doing freelance work because if you specialize in something and the employer doesn’t know whom to contact, they can find you and assess your suitability for the vacancy they have.

Share content: As with other social media, your connections bring traffic to your website. If you post relevant content on your Linkedin, people who connect with you will read it. If you add the right people, you’re an audience that wants to learn more and can add to add to the discussion. That way, you engage the people who care about it without annoying your friends and family on Facebook.