Facebook vs. LinkedIn: Which is better for business?

We test two top social networking sites with six business problems

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2. Find information about a job you're interviewing for

Out of the blue, you've gotten a call from a headhunter about a new job that could be your dream assignment — higher salary, more responsibility and the chance to do something really creative. But it's a company you've never heard of, and none of your friends know anyone who works there. And since it's not a publicly traded company, there isn't a lot to go on. It would be great if you could get some inside information before you make any decisions.

Facebook

None of your real-life friends may know anything about the company, but how about your virtual friends on Facebook? Tap their collective knowledge. Install the My Questions application and then use it to ask for information about the company, or to find out if anyone knows someone who works there. The question will be displayed on your friends' Profile pages, and you'll be able to instantly get their answers.

Facebook lists employee networks.

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You can also check to see whether there's a Facebook network of the company's employees. Click Networks at the top of your Profile page, choose Browse All Networks and click the Workplaces tab. You'll find an alphabetical listing of all Facebook's workplace networks. Most workplace networks are open only to employees, so you probably won't be able to join. But you can find out who works there and how to get in touch with them. (For details on how to do it, see "Keep track of former associates.") — Preston Gralla

LinkedIn

LinkedIn's ability to help you here depends on whether there are any other members who work at your desired company. If the job is posted on LinkedIn, the entry will have a box labeled Inside Connections if someone in your extended network works there. Click on the link, and it'll bring up those names. If they're two or three degrees of separation from you, you can bring up their profile and go through an introduction process similar to the referral process described before.

Inside Connections can help check a job.

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If the job isn't posted on LinkedIn, you can still do a people search by company name and find out if there's anyone on LinkedIn in your extended network who works there. You can then get their names and pursue an introduction.

You'll also get the names of people at the company who are on LinkedIn but not in your network. But in this case, you don't see their name, just their title. You can't see their full profile or contact them unless you spring for at least a Business account at $20 a month. (There's also a Business Plus account at $50 a month and a Pro account at $200 a month.) With a paid account, you can send the unnamed contact an InMail, which is a way of contacting them without knowing who they are.

On the other hand, if you can then find the name that goes with the title (for example, via the company's own Web site), you can search for them that way, bring up their entire public profile and use the introduction feature to send a more personal message. — Jake Widman

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