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Sara BakerAre you on Facebook? Twitter? How about LinkedIn? Do you participate in social networking?

Recently, I've been learning more about LinkedIn, a professional networking site. After participating in LinkedIn's exclusive training for Career Services Professionals, I became a social networking convert. With so many of people using the internet for social purposes, it's important to understand how to responsibly use these tools to one's career advantage.

What is LinkedIn, and what makes it different from Facebook?

Facebook is a website where people share all aspects of their lives (even those that others may not want to know about). Conversely, LinkedIn is a 100% professional network, connecting people for the purpose of business and education. There are no games and no inappropriate photos. In other words, it is an online professional portfolio site.

LinkedIn's training session is a webinar that gives insight into some of the hidden strengths and offers great ideas on how career professionals can use it to enhance their services.

The webinar teaches participants how to set up a profile and encourages you to create a public one that you can include in your resume -- basically directing employers to your "professional site" instead of leaving them to "Google" your name and find your Facebook page. LinkedIn training sessions are offered live each month, giving you a chance to ask the moderator questions directly. If you are unable to attend the live session, the most recent webinar is also available in a recorded version online. You can find these, and supplemental PDF files with information to help you learn how to create your profiles online.

Learning about networks such as LinkedIn gives you the skills needed to build a professional image online, research companies and career paths, explore organizations, and connect with alumni and professionals

Employers truly are checking out people online. LinkedIn offers an opportunity to create a great first impression with your own personal brand!

By Sara Baker