Being the professional version of "Big Brother" to nearly 500 million people has its advantages.
Much like Facebook has done with consumers, LinkedIn - the world's largest social network for professionals - has collected an obscene amount of detail and data on its 460 million members.
That type of knowledge, as they say, is power, as indicated by one of LinkedIn's newest site features - LinkedIn Salary.
LinkedIn Takes on a Taboo Topic
"Salary can be a sensitive topic to discuss at work, and it can be hard to find reliable and up to date information on the web," the company said in a recent blog post announcing the new feature. "With LinkedIn Salary, we've tapped into our network of more than 460+ million members to provide deep insights into the compensation landscape.
"This includes salary, bonus, and equity data for specific job titles, and the different factors that impact pay such as years of experience, industry, company size, location, and education level - all of which becomes critical knowledge as you navigate your career. Also, rest assured that when you enter your salary, it's immediately encrypted and remains private."
Currently available in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, LinkedIn Salary is expected to be released to a global audience in 2017.
By utilizing industry types, locations, job titles and more, you're able to quickly search, sort and ascertain what a "typical" salary should be given for almost any type of job based on where you live, the amount of experience you have and what industry you work in.
LinkedIn Salary = Sales Gold
From a sales and marketing perspective, LinkedIn Salary provides priceless clarity on what your typical prospect likely makes as a yearly salary.
For Business Coaches, Consultants, Online Trainers and others who sell their products or services directly to prospects on LinkedIn, it's a great way to add in a huge element (income level) to your typical customer "avatar" or profile.
That becomes sales gold for anyone when it comes to pricing a monthly coaching program, online training course or similar offerings aimed at a specific, niche audience on LinkedIn.
Share Your Salary - Or Go Premium
"With LinkedIn Premium, members will have access to LinkedIn Salary without the need to contribute their salary information," the company noted in its announcement. "They can now filter jobs by LinkedIn Salary data and have immediate access to more precise salary information on the job postings they're interested in.
"This is just the beginning of what's possible. Over time, we anticipate using LinkedIn data to add even more actionable insights to help you make better career decisions."
Don't Stop on Salary
Discovering what a typical sales prospect makes or looking at what most jobs in your industry pay can be very useful information for both a sales professional and job seeker.
However, that doesn't preclude you from taking the right approach in terms of building your personal brand on LinkedIn, including creating a killer profile and using what I call "functional" text in your profile sections, status updates and blogs posts.
(As an example, here's a copy-and-paste template you can use to get started with creating a killer LinkedIn profile.)
At the end of the day, LinkedIn is still about finding the fastest, easiest and most efficient way to earn the time, attention and trust of people you want to do business with.
And while LinkedIn Salary provides some great insight, it's likely only the start of a larger trend.