If you’re at all familiar with LinkedIn, you’ve undoubtedly noticed all kinds of changes in recent months. The social network has been putting a greater emphasis on publishing and connecting users to top influencers as it seeks to become the leading destination for professional content.

LinkedIn has also been a hot stock of late after reporting fourth quarter revenues in excess of $300 million. But despite its momentum, LinkedIn will continue to battle in a competitive social environment where established players and startups alike are vying for our attention (and for advertising dollars).

LinkedInMoving beyond just brokering connections

Launched back in 2003, LinkedIn has grown tremendously over the past decade. The network made its name as a site that professionals use to advance their careers by connecting with business colleagues and other professionals, and by accumulating professional recommendations. The wealth of professional data gathered by LinkedIn even serves those just joining the working world. For example, recent graduates can map their careers by exploring the careers, talents and connections of their school’s alumni.

However, LinkedIn has grown well beyond the business of brokering digital connections. Today the network has numerous features such as industry and topical groups, company pages, advanced search and a multitude of applications. So, how do you rise above the noise? Over the past couple of years, LinkedIn has also dramatically increased the ways in which you can customize your professional profile.

One of the more compelling aspects of LinkedIn is that it’s truly global; LinkedIn says it has more than 200 million members in more than 200 countries and territories. The Mountain View, California-based company had some 3,458 full-time employees at the end of 2012, including workers in international offices in cities like New York, Amsterdam, Munich, Hong Kong, Sydney and Tokyo.

A map on the LinkedIn site shows the breakdown of LinkedIn’s membership. More than 74 million members are from the United States. India has more than 18 million LinkedIn members, while Brazil and the United Kingdom each have more than 11 million members.

LinkedIn Today

At the center of LinkedIn’s drive to become the premier destination for professional content is LinkedIn Today, where you can go to get “the day’s top news, tailored for you.” You can access LinkedIn Today from your profile by clicking the link under your “News” tab at the top. LinkedIn Today customizes your news according to factors like the Industries that you follow (and it’s not shy about suggesting additional Industries you should include).

You can also follow the content of selected companies like Slingshot SEO. Content produced by these companies on their blog is syndicated to LinkedIn Today – providing LinkedIn Today with fresh, relevant content while boosting the visibility of the contributing companies.

Are you an Elite(st)?

Like other social networks, LinkedIn can definitely play on our sense of vanity sometimes. In February, LinkedIn began sending out messages to its “elite members” – those who were in the top 1 percent, 5 percent or 10 percent in profile views for 2012. This gave rise to a wave of social media bragging from some of those who received a message. (Remember braggers: One percent of 200 million is still a group of 2 million.)

Certainly LinkedIn deserves accolades for its tremendous growth over the past decade and its continuing innovation in finding ways to help us connect with other professionals. But it will be interesting to see how well the network can keep our attention amidst a landscape of established networks and startup challengers.

What are your impressions of LinkedIn? Do you like how the network is expanding into a professional content hub? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Need help optimizing your LinkedIn profile? Download our guide to Increasing Conversions with Social Media.