May 05, 2012, 7:30 AM — If you're job hunting or looking to expand your professional network, many people turn to LinkedIn and its portfolio of features and tools to browse job listings, connect with colleagues, ask questions, join groups and more.
But beyond those usual destinations are a number of other lesser-known features and tools that help you efficiently catch up on the day's headlines, protect your identity and more.
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Here's a look at five of those features.
1. Browse Securely
If you're logging on to LinkedIn from open WiFi hotspots, your security could be at risk. Luckily, LinkedIn now supports hyptertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) browsing.
HTTPS browsing is an opt-in feature that provides encrypted communications and secure identification of a network's Web server. To turn it on, select "Settings" from the drop-down menu that appears when you hover over the link to your name in the top-right corner. In the "Profile" tab at the bottom, select "Manage Security Settings." Note that if HTTPS has not yet been enabled on your profile, you will not see this option, so keep checking back.
Next, check the box and save your settings/
2. Easily Find Contacts You Already Know
In March, LinkedIn updated a key feature to help you connect with people you already know. The "People You May Know" tool, which had been located in the top-right of the screen when you log in, displayed three potential contacts. The new "People You May Know," currently in beta, uses LinkedIn's algorithm that takes into account factors such as your existing network, past workplaces and where you've gone to school to produce a categorized portfolio of potential contacts.
A few noteworthy features in this update: the capability to toggle between the networks by clicking the icons at the top to sort your potential contacts; selecting the "Connect All" button to connect with all the individuals in that particular list at once; and infinite scrolling so you don't have to click through pages.
[Want more LinkedIn tips, tricks and analysis? Check out CIO.com's LinkedIn Bible.]
3. Listen to Headlines on Your Smartphone
If you're in a rush and don't want to spend time flipping through the day's headlines, LinkedIn has a quick fix to get you snippets of news on the go.
SpeechIn is a text-to-speech feature that reads the top headlines from LinkedIn Today, its news aggregation site. To access it, visit speechin.linkedinlabs.com from your mobile browser, then enter in your LinkedIn username and password.
Once you're logged in, just tap the flame button to begin the text-to-speech reading. Tap the forward or backward buttons to advance to the next headline or repeat the last one. Otherwise, the app will continue reading the headlines. Tap the flame icon once again to pause the reading.
SpeechIn is part of LinkedIn Labs, which means there is certainly room for improvement within the app. But if you want a quick rundown of what's happening today, SpeechIn isn't a bad choice.
4. Hide Your Identity When Viewing Profiles
The "Who's Viewed My Profile" box is on the right side of your LinkedIn page when you first log in:. In it, you can see vague attributes of people who have clicked on your profile, such as the company the person works for, sometimes their name and occasionally someone labeled "Anonymous." If you don't want others to see information about you when you look at their profile, you need to change the following setting.
Navigate to your settings page and click the link for "Select what others see when you've viewed their profile." In the form that pops up, select the appropriate option: either anonymous profile characteristics or anonymity. Then click save changes.
5. Visualize Your Network
Another useful tool from LinkedIn Labs is called InMaps--an interactive, visual representation of your professional network that helps you better "understand the relationships between you and your entire set of LinkedIn connections," according to the professional social network.
To try InMaps, visit its homepage and log in with LinkedIn. Once it gathers your connections, it generate a map like the one below.
The map is color-coded to represent different affiliations or groups from your career, such as previous employers, college classmates or industries you've worked in. As you zoom in, bigger names represent people who are the most connected with that specific cluster. When you click on a contact, you'll see their profile pop up on the right, as well as lines highlighting how they're connected to your connections.
Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and enterprise collaboration for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at email@example.com