Most people understand the basics of LinkedIn: You complete your profile, connect with colleagues, join groups and—if you're invested enough—you could end up landing a new, better job.
Many of LinkedIn's most recent efforts have focused on beefing up the social aspect of its site: It added sharing buttons to its revamped Polls and introduced Signal, a feed that streams updates and news from LinkedIn.
But with a new feature in beta called Skills, LinkedIn is revisiting its roots by helping users better market themselves and stay up to date with the latest job trends.
Skills is a hub where you can search specific skills to determine its popularity, peruse featured professionals and locations associated with that skill, find related jobs and groups, as well as discover whether that particular skill is trending up or down.
Viewing its growth alongside related skills is a good measure for determining new skills you may want to develop to become more marketable.
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You can also peruse the top companies associated with the skill and follow them to keep tabs on new hires, company news or newly posted job openings. The "Related Location" box will tell you where that skill is most in-demand, if relocation for a new position is an option for you.
Browse the Groups section to find new forums in which you can converse with likeminded professionals and start branding yourself as an expert in that skill.
There are two ways you can add a skill to your profile: Click the "Add sections" link on your profile and select Skills, or visit the Skills homepage, search for a skill and add it manually.
Back in October, LinkedIn announced four new profile sections, one of which included skills. This new beta feature—and the possibility that you could be included in a skill's top professionals list—makes it even more imperative that you fill out all sections of your profile and give LinkedIn Skills a try.
Kristin Burnham covers Consumer Technology, SaaS, Social Networking and Web 2.0 for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Kristin at firstname.lastname@example.org.