How Does LinkedIn Work?
Much like the typical social network sites, LinkedIn is based on users who know and trust others that they do business with. These include current co-workers, past employees that you may know, companies that you've worked for, and of course others who might be in your same industry.
The first step is to of course sign up and create a professional profile. This profile will have your real name, your past experience, your current location, and contact information. It is recommended that you include your resume, as well as any type of portfolio that shows off the work you have done, such as articles (if a writer or editor), graphic design work (for graphic/web designers), any websites or blog that you update regularly, etc. This allows for not only people that know you, but those that would like to add to see what interests and qualifications you have. These are called your connections.
Along with this, you can also have the opportunity to join groups - groups that are based on interests that you have or would like to learn more about. For instance, as a freelane writer you might want to join several writing, freelancing, or freelance writing groups. These groups are laid out a bit like message boards or forums, with members posting or starting a topic and others commenting on them.