I feel privileged that in my job I get to meet so many people from such a diverse range of careers and professions. I have trained people ranging from FTSE 100 board members right to sole traders to make the most of their use of LinkedIn, all of whom have an opinion of LinkedIn.

Very often, the conversation turns to relevancy. Whether they’re already on LinkedIn, or they’re not (but are perhaps considering it), the conversation turns to just how relevant LinkedIn really is to them. Do I need LinkedIn? Won’t it just be a distraction? How much time and effort should I dedicate to this? Why would people find what I say interesting?

I often get these sorts of questions which is why I have decided to write a series of blogs, sharing my perspectives on what LinkedIn is, why it’s not just useful, but essential to your line of business, and how to gain the maximum benefit from the time you spend on the platform. You might just be surprised …

Let’s start with a brief LinkedIn 101 to explain what it is. (For a full history on LinkedIn click here.)

LinkedIn is a social network for professionals, founded in 2003, and continuing to grow at a rate of two new users signing up every second (so there will be many people on LinkedIn who are very relevant to you!). Currently there are over 450 million members on LinkedIn in over 200 countries, and in the UK alone there are over 22 million users, of which 3.2 million are directors and above, and 160,000 plus are CEO’s.

Being on LinkedIn is like being in an ongoing conversation with everyone you rely on to make your business a success: team members, clients, suppliers, partners, and every other kind of stakeholder. It has often been referred to as word of mouth on steroids. Which is why you need to ask yourself: is word of mouth useful to my business?

If the answer is yes, then you absolutely need to be on LinkedIn.