Why you should pay attention to LinkedIn
By Jagdish Singh Malhi May 21, 2013
- With LinkedIn, you can better reach and target professionals, decision-makers and the C-suite than with other social networks
- It is operating in an uncontested space and will grow into a formidable force as more graduates and young professionals sign up
I AM going to start this article with key facts about LinkedIn which we should all know because unfortunately, it isn’t yet as popular as it should be.
LinkedIn was launched on May 5, 2003 by Reid Hoffman, Allen Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly and Jean-Luc Valliant. The company has a diversified business model with revenues coming from talent solutions, marketing solutions and premium subscription solutions.
LinkedIn has offices in 25 cities with almost 4,000 staff members, and is currently available in 19 different languages.
Let us look at the membership data. According to the corporate website, LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet, with more than 225 million members in over 200 countries and territories. Each second, more than two people sign up for an account and the fastest-growing demographic are students and recent college graduates.
There are more than one million Malaysians on LinkedIn. Sure, that pales in comparison with Facebook’s 13 million or Twitter’s four million (guesstimate), but if you study the average value per user for B2B (business-to-business) relationships, could LinkedIn return a higher value?
I say ‘yes’ because your ability to reach and target professionals, decision-makers and the C-suite is better versus other social networking platforms.
The key differentiator about LinkedIn is its focus on business – not what your wife ate for dinner. This alone separates LinkedIn from all the ‘noise’ because most of the other networking platforms focus on the social aspects of life – the fun in the sun.
LinkedIn is operating in an uncontested space, a blue ocean, and will grow into a formidable force as more graduates and young professionals sign up.
Okay, I’ll get to your question now – so what? I know you’ve got 9GAG on, but bear with me because your professional future will be influenced by LinkedIn, whether you like it or not.
I foresee a time where businesses will no longer ask for your résumé – that piece of paper which is passed around between managers before it ends up in a pile somewhere, only to be thrown away after some time because you either got hired or passed over.
LinkedIn makes sense because it’s easy to access and update, and there are a host of other features like recommendations and endorsements which are a great form of social proof from fellow professionals.
You need to have a well-managed profile which is attractive and current. One tip would be to describe instances where you helped the organisation progress in some way – by increasing revenues, saving cost, optimising processes or any of that good stuff.
In relation to Point 1 and the second paragraph, LinkedIn offers recruiters and HR (human resource) managers talent solutions which allow them to view your profile and contact you if they’re interested.
I assure you this method of recruitment is becoming very popular because the solution offered by LinkedIn makes their lives so much easier that it’s an enjoyable process. When it makes their lives easier, they want to use it more – so you do the math and figure out why you need to be on LinkedIn for professional reasons.
If you’re on LinkedIn long enough, you’ll begin to receive invitations to connect from people within the HR industry. I think at least 10% of my connections on LinkedIn are from the HR industry.
Any successful professional will tell you that networking is important. Networking allows you to meet others from the same or different industries which expand your sources of information, access to opportunities and, once in a while, pull in a favour.
Because people are so time-poor, LinkedIn is an attractive way to connect either via direct invitation or groups. You can either search for a person by name, or for people by industry, and connect with them – or you can join relevant groups and take it from there.
Either way, networking has become so much easier, faster but most importantly – targeted! Why I say that is important is because LinkedIn is a great way for lead generation and pre-sales as long as you know how to go about it. I’ll discuss this in another article.
How do you get your news at the moment? Print? Online? Social? LinkedIn is a great place to get relevant news updates either via your network or what LinkedIn displays in the homepage.
For example, the majority of my network consists of people from the marketing, advertising and technology industries, with a good mix of people from FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), telecommunications and the like.
Assuming 10% of 500 people share updates daily, you will be able to quickly read 50 articles which other people found interesting – which magically shortens your search for information. I find this valuable because I “bump into” interesting articles relevant to my field of interest, and I don’t have to search for them!
5) Thought leadership
Many people don’t see it this way yet, but my view is this is a great tool for you to differentiate yourself. The competition is only getting tougher, we know that. MBAs are a dime a dozen. People with roughly the same skills are easy to find. Access to information is easy and free most of the time.
My personal opinion is what differentiates two candidates are their personality and soft skills, but that is not relevant to this article. The point I’m arriving at is if your competition has the same qualifications, skills and knowledge, then you need to stand out by being a thought leader and LinkedIn is an ideal platform.
It is ideal because you can share your thoughts, link to written work, answer questions, participate in discussions, share what you’re reading, and much more.
On the ball
As a professional network on the Internet, to me, LinkedIn has got its game right and will probably be acquired someday by an Internet giant. Or it will continue to grow in terms of membership and revenue on its own.
Personally, I hope it doesn’t sell out as that sometimes kills innovation. To you and me, this is a tool for professional gain. Use it to promote yourself, to meet others and to acquire knowledge.
You can thank me when your next job offer comes through LinkedIn. I personally enjoy the lobster thermidor at Monte’s in Bangsar Shopping Centre – just sayin’.
Jagdish Singh Malhi is an ex-banker turned marketing and communications specialist with a deep interest in brands using technology and data to meet business objectives, and has been on both sides of the client/ agency divide.