When Microsoft acquired LinkedIn back in 2016 for a crisp $26.2 billion, many people scratched their heads. Why focus on a networking site whose ‘cool factor’ palled in comparison to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Why such a large amount for a platform that had, for all intents and purposes, plateaued in the public eye?

Well, now we know now that Microsoft had a few tricks up their sleeves.

Embedding LinkedIn with such things as Skype, its email system, and a host of other features, Microsoft has elevated the platform from a ‘social network for job-seekers’ into an indispensable resource for business professionals the world over.

The newly streamlined and user-friendly site has amassed over 500 million users, making it the third larger social network in existence. While stats show that only around a quarter of users are actually active, that’s still hundreds of millions of users who are potentially viewing your content each and every day.

And unlike other social media channels, the platform isn’t burdened by fake profiles, fake news, and unwanted comments that bog down and dilute quality content.

LinkedIn, in short, dominates business-to-business marketing, and is an essential platform for all things related to both marketing and communications. Here are a few of the (many) features in which you can extend your reach and get the most out of the platform:

#1- Groups

Allowing you to narrow your focus on specific professionals within a given industry, the LinkedIn groups feature provides places to share content, find answers, and to establish yourself as an industry expert.

Unlike groups in say, Facebook, where memes and misspelled comments reign supreme, LinkedIn groups allow you to specify your content in a professional setting. The groups feature even creates its own feed, which aims to keep you up-to-date with the most relevant information tailored to you.

Not sure where to start? Firstly, the ‘product’ is found on the homepage dropdown menu. Past that point, you will be able to use any keywords you want to find the groups that best suit your needs. LinkedIn, will, of course, have plenty of suggestions.

#2- Slideshare

Immensely popular in its own right, LinkedIn embedded SlideShare into its platform when it purchased it back in 2012 for $119 million. Hailed as “the youtube of presentations”, the feature enables you to share quality PDFs that have potential to go viral within, and outside of the LinkedIn network.

With over 80% of SlideShare’s visitors coming from targeted sources, their over-18 million uploads in 40 content categories serves as an invaluable resource for you and your business. If you have a finished presentation that you want to share, this feature will give it its proper due.

#3- Pulse

Back in February 2014, LinkedIn opened its publishing platform, Pulse, to the general public. Previously used only by influencers and a small pool of high-level execs, Pulse is now open to over 230 million English-speaking users, with the average post reaching LinkedIn members in 21 industries, and across 9 countries. Not bad for a single post.

Both a blogging resource and personalized, integrated newsfeed aggregator, Pulse marries published content with LinkedIn’s data and professional identity. And while influencers still drive the general conversation online, their published content is a great place to cull inspiration of your own. Subjects related to careers, business, and self-improvement rank as the most shared subjects throughout the entire network, so keep your audience in mind.

Make sure to draft your piece with care. Pair that with a stellar headline, a nice featured image, and keep SEO tactics in mind—you never know who your content could reach.

#4- Native Video

Unless you were one of LinkedIn’s Influencers, the only way that you used to be able to share video content was via a YouTube or Vimeo link—behold a new era. Available on both mobile and desktop, you can now share videos directly to the platform.

And while other social media sites make your content compete with cute cats and puppies tripping over their ears, LinkedIn’s video resources allow you to add an element of visual storytelling – and a personal touch – to your business while always keeping it professional.

#5- Advanced Search

With a new interface and a new search bar, LinkedIn’s advanced search options are more streamlined than ever before. With advanced search, you are able to narrow down your fields by location, current companies, past companies, industries, profile languages, nonprofit interests, and schools. You can even look for 1st, 2nd and even 3rd connections if need be.

If you’re willing to upgrade to LinkedIn’s premium Sales or Hiring plans, you’ll also be able to unlock additional features such as “function,” and “years of experience”. Clicking on the label “structuring your search” is another way to sharpen your focus by structuring complex queries with search operators.

LinkedIn, in short, has simplified the search process to guarantee that you find the right connections, and fast.

#6- Messaging

Taking its cue from Facebook, LinkedIn now has a live chat option, with a green button appearing beside your icon if you are ‘online.’

While this may seem intrusive at first, it allows your connections to see when you are available, and how active your business truly is. Allowing for the potential of real-time discussion and higher levels of engagement between yourself, your clients, and your peers, this chat-like feature encourages a more instantaneous connection.

This new feature also allows you to message directly from the homepage – and any page, really – without having to click through each individual profile to find that message button.

#7- Recommendations

LinkedIn dubs the profile ‘recommendation’ as “a statement that is written by a LinkedIn member to recognize or commend a connection, such as a colleague, business partner, or student.” It is an important tactic to use when attempting to put one’s profile above the rest.

A well-written recommendation – paired with the all-important “endorsements” from your connections – will not only instill a sense of confidence in a potential recruiter, but will, in general, elevate any profile.

As important as it is to have a wide range of recommendations, be careful not to “logroll”: ie, exchanging LinkedIn recommendations between current or former teammates. This will have a negative impact on potential recruiters. So if you’re putting the effort into creating a stellar page, don’t let your hard work go to waste.

#8- Customized Notifications

Filtering your content has never been easier. While the new, sleeker homepage enables you to scroll through content that your connections post, you can now turn off, mute, or unfollow anything you deem irrelevant to your business or brand.

So while your connections will, of course, still be there, you won’t need to see every single article shared (keep in mind that those reading and watching your content can turn off your content as well!).

And while LinkedIn has also streamlined the way you see your content, customizing your notifications is another tool to ensure that you’re seeing exactly what you want (and need) to see.

#9- Sales Navigator

While this is not a free LinkedIn feature, it’s advantages for your business far outweigh the cost. Payable on a monthly or annual basis, the feature is available for both team and individual members—the latter allowing you to see who’s viewed your profile; access to the extended LinkedIn network; lead and account search capabilities and recommendations, and plenty more.

According to LinkedIn stats, social selling leaders see:

  • 45% more opportunities created
  • 51% more likely to achieve quota
  • 80% more productive

And while these numbers may seem vague and/or slightly optimistic, it is abundantly clear that opting for a premium feature like gives you an added level of exposure. In all, it’s an invaluable tool for marketers and business professional, and that is well suited for a wide range of industries.

#10- InMail

While InMail can only be used with a Premium account, its an excellent resource that allows you to send private messages to anyone on LinkedIn without an introduction or contact information.

If you’ve been running your profile on (free) basic mode, this would definitely be a cue for an upgrade. InMail will also track the effectiveness of your messages, and provide data on your InMail messages via the InMail analytics page.

Once you’ve signed up for InMail, you will be given a set number of credits. While this may seem strange at first, it ensures that each message you send and receive carries a sense of importance, unlike your standard email.

You can also receive credit back when one of your messages has received a response. In short, if you’re a business professional looking to expand their network, sign up for InMail as soon as possible.

#11- Lynda

Purchased back in 2015 for a cool $1.5 billion, the online learning website Lynda.com has now been integrated into the LinkedIn interface. Given the official title of “LinkedIn Learning” and available directly on the homepage, the combination of Lynda.com’s easy-to-access expertise and LinkedIn’s complex database allows you to explore and learn about a wide array of subjects quickly, and easily.

With videos and beautifully-designed How-To’s, the marriage of LinkedIn and Lynda.com was the smartest union that could have been made.

#12- Analytics

Like other social platforms, LinkedIn’s analytics aim to give you and your company deeper insight into your page’s performance. If you are a company page administrator, you can view analytics about your Company Page by clicking your “me” icon, followed by “manage”, and then the “analytics” tab. Broken down into three sections—visitors, updates, and followers—LinkedIn allows you to see the breadth of your page’s engagement in one place.

Unlike other social platforms, LinkedIn allows you to measure more than simple followers and clicks. Providing graphs and a variety of stats on such things as audience demographics, broken down by industry, seniority, and function, the analytics feature puts you and your business to stay a step ahead with every post.

Do not view LinkedIn as an afterthought, but as an essential tool with a multitude of underutilized features. Get your ideas, articles, videos, recommendations, endorsements, and questions out to the people on the world’s most popular professional networking platform. And while we only mentioned a handful of features here, there is still much to explore on LinkedIn’s new and improved interface.