Tim Johnson grew up in Elk River, served in the Air Force and later chased his dream to be a radio personality by taking requests in studios as far away as Alaska and as near as KCLD-FM in St. Cloud.
A self-described online technology addict, he began to integrate social media into his career 10 years ago when he developed a MySpace page as the night disc jockey for a top-40 station in Anchorage.
"I didn't know what I was doing, but it gave me a chance to interact with people in a different way," said Johnson, 36, who has since completed undergraduate and graduate programs in mass communications at St. Cloud State University. Last year, Johnson became a graphics and communications specialist and social media trainer for Resource Training & Solutions. "I could build a lot of connections instead of counting on people to use the call line."
He later progressed along with the technology to Facebook and Twitter. There, he learned the delicate balance of marketing and advertising in communications -- and how to make an ad not sound so much like an ad.
Increasingly, though, he's learned a lot about what other people are coming to know: When it comes to business and careers, the best online networking tool available may be LinkedIn, a publicly held diversified business model with revenues coming from member subscriptions, advertising sales and talent solutions.
"I think you have to look at some of these tools (as if they were) specialty cable channels," Johnson said. "Facebook is about your home life. Twitter is like happy hour, and LinkedIn is strictly business. To me, it's become the most important way to network, find jobs and research potential employers. With 60 percent of them using social media to vet the hiring process, LinkedIn can make a difference up to the interview level if your profile matches up well with your resume."
More than a resume, though, LinkedIn profiles can showcase your work. You can post photos and link to examples of your best work. You can't do that on a one-page resume.
According to The Wall Street Journal, 60 percent of small-business owners say they believe social media tools are valuable to their companies' growth. But just 3 percent said Twitter had the most potential to help their organization.
LinkedIn topped The Wall Street Journal survey, with 41 percent singling it out as most beneficial to their company. By comparison, 16 percent chose YouTube and 14 percent picked Facebook.
The same survey also pointed out most business owners don't have anyone dedicated to social media campaigns, and one-third of businesses spend no time on social media at all.
Since 2008, LinkedIn has let small- and medium-sized businesses create free company pages. It has about 2.6 million organizations with an active profile, though it's impossible to discern how many are large corporations or small businesses.
"Whatever they're doing, they're doing it right," Johnson said.
On Feb. 7, LinkedIn announced its financial results for 2012. Revenue increased 86 percent to $972.3 million from $522.2 million. In 2013, that number is expected to top $1.4 billion.
But it's not only job seekers who are using LinkedIn. Bruce Hagberg is owner and CEO of riteSOFT, a St. Cloud-based company that develops commercial
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