LinkedIn is one of the social media sites that may be as misunderstood as Twitter. CEOs and key executives constantly ask me why they should be using either one. They haven’t been able to grasp the impact these tools can have on their company. The CEO or key executive doesn’t have to actually use either of them, but they should at least encourage the use by the appropriate people in their organization.
LinkedIn is more than just social networking like Facebook. I think of Facebook as a personal social site and LinkedIn as the business people’s social site. LinkedIn and Facebook serve different purposes.
Unlike Facebook which hides a lot of information about the person, unless you are directly connected, LinkedIn profiles are pretty much open for everyone to review. Granted the person controls what information they chose to display, but whatever they decide it is open to just about everyone. This is actually a good thing.
Since most profiles on LinkedIn are about the person’s professional background it really isn’t too much different than posting one’s resume online. This opens up a whole new way to use LinkedIn to benefit your company.
Here are some examples:
Hiring. Why pay thousands of dollars to Monster, CareerBuilder or The Ladders in order to have access to their resume databases? If you are seeking a professional person chances are very high you can locate them on LinkedIn. You can review their background, experiences, accomplishments, awards, education and so on, for free or a small monthly fee.
In addition you can connect to references, view a list of people with similar backgrounds, identify people in your industry or even specific companies. LinkedIn has provided you and your hiring team not only with a wealth of people, but also given you an enormous amount of information on this person.
Reference Checking. We hear this all the time, people won’t give you references unless they know they will give a good reference. OK, so now you have a way of getting your own references. LinkedIn allows you to find people based on companies. LinkedIn will give you list of people that have worked at a specific company and those currently working at the company. Now you have a list of people independent from the ones the candidate provided you.
Customer Leads. Cold calling has never been the best way to access a company. With LinkedIn your sales people can now develop warm leads. Your salesperson can identify a potential customer, find who else in their network has contacts within the company or better yet knows the person your salesperson wants to meet and ask for an introduction. How about asking if they would set up a lunch with the potential customer? This is a powerful tool few sales people use.
Vendors. What a great way to pre-qualify vendors. Go on LinkedIn look for people that have left the company and connect with them. You may learn some things the salesperson will never tell you. Granted, depending on the person the information could be biased. That works both ways. As with all information the person collecting the information will have to filter it as they see fit. But I submit having it and ignoring it is better than not having it at all.
Affiliations. Another tool that helps identify potential companies to affiliate with. This is a great way to be introduced to someone you hope to develop a professional business relationship. Often contained within the profile are recommendations that may help you decide if this is the right company to work alongside.
Open Jobs. A component of hiring but this has a different spin. The ability to post open positions for free or low cost. With LinkedIn groups you can post a job for free and have hundreds of thousands of people be aware of it. In addition, for a reasonable fee you can target specific people, with specific backgrounds, in specific industries only. So you don’t receive hundreds of unqualified resumes.
International Contacts. LinkedIn is a global site. If you are seeking contacts or considering doing business in a foreign country, LinkedIn may provide the contacts you need to get started. If your company is considering coming to the USA, the level of contacts available to you in just about every business sector is well worth your time to check out.
I could continue, but if I haven’t convinced by now why go on. Even if these reasons don’t work for your company, think beyond the specifics above. Think about how these resources can be utilized in your company. That is the real value of LinkedIn. It opens up so many opportunities that have not been available in the past.
I would encourage everyone to be active on LinkedIn. The benefits far out weigh any drawbacks.
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I welcome your thoughts and comments.