As social networks explode, they need to differentiate themselves to attract members, subscribers and advertisers. With more than 200 million members, LinkedIn has emerged as the professional network for posting jobs and making your resume and profile available to anyone who might be hiring. It has become the starting point for uncovering new opportunities.
But LinkedIn is so much more than a hiring tool. We’ve found the network to be a critical resource in our new business efforts, building company brands, and organizing and growing networks.
New business often involves tight timelines, scarce details and little opportunity for relationship building. When an agency is trying to win a six-figure piece of work, often all they receive is an electronic request for agency capabilities and a list of corporate names of those who will be participating in the agency review. Yet, more often than not, it’s the agency/client chemistry that secures the win. That’s where LinkedIn comes to play.
Today, LinkedIn allows agency pitch teams to go beyond the list of supplied corporate names or bios and provides a wealth of personal and professional information, endorsements and recommendations. LinkedIn allows members to see updates posted on behalf of the potential client, which serves as a megaphone for their business. Most profiles list past employers, many of whom could be current or past clients of your own agency. And then there is all that personal information, like where they went to college, or a catalog of personal interests that provide that nugget of information to make small talk before the agency review session starts or break the ice before getting into the pitch.
Companies seeking inclusion on Fortune’s Best Places to Work also should turn to LinkedIn to build their brand. Each employee LinkedIn profile serves as an example of what it’s like to work at your business. Photos on profiles demonstrate diversity of race, age and sex. Employees can include links to company managed website pages and social networks promoting products, services or opportunities. And summary statements, especially those written in the first person, can ooze of passion and enthusiasm convincing even the most career satisfied that they may want to join such an amazing company.
Probably the most useful function of LinkedIn is its universal, always available, virtual-rolodex feature. LinkedIn provides the capability to tag each profile you research with key words to find later for new business, job opportunities, resource questions or personal networking. And to help keep track of when or how you know this person, you can write notes on the profile, which are automatically dated as you type in your thoughts.
LinkedIn gives organization to professional networking. Not only do groups connect employees with other like-minded professionals, but it fosters discussion, a sharing of insights, posting of relevant articles and allows for polling among group members. Groups also can help build long-lasting relationships with customers and give exclusive access to a select audience of professionals. And groups also can raise awareness of individuals as thought leaders within their industry sector.
Last year, LinkedIn recorded more than 15 billion interactions. That includes networking, status updates job postings and more. LinkedIn’s power derives from its simple mission which is “connecting the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” Joining LinkedIn gives access to not only people and jobs, but to competitive information and organizational tools, all with the goal of helping professionals to excel at what they do. It may have started as a jobs site, but it has grown into the essential tool of the social executive.