Chapter 10: Social networking site use in professional contexts
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Professional social networking sites (SNS) such as LinkedIn or XING promise their users easier access to relevant experts and job opportunities, and to help them become more successful altogether. In this chapter, we briefly introduce and define professional SNS, before we review research investigating (1) benefits of professional SNS use and (2) predictors of beneficial professional SNS use including processes potentially underlying these benefits such as increased social capital and ambient awareness. Overall, available research suggests that professional SNS use is linked to various benefits in terms of job-related information and innovative performance. Social network theories explain part of these benefits. Studies also provided evidence for both notions of professional SNS being tools for further social enhancement for successful offline networkers (“rich-get-richer”) and tools to compensate for a lack of social resources and offline networking skills (“poor-get-richer”). We discuss (3) methodological approaches and challenges when investigating professional SNS use and its effects. Finally, we (4) pose some open questions and make suggestions for promising avenues for future research in this still very young field of research.

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