Staff missing in Action on LinkedIn, Company losing out on Branding and Business – Some companies discourage their staff from joining LinkedIn or being active on the site because they are afraid that the staff will be poached or headhunted by competitors. Are these companies not living in fear? However, the same companies also spend a lot of money looking for business or trying to grow their brand sometimes millions of rand, in the process overlooking a very effective and efficient way of doing this using LinkedIn. Why not get your staff to help you achieve your corporate goals and company objectives using LinkedIn?
Example of Networking possibility– LinkedIn is an excellent way for the company to leverage the networks of all the staff working the company. Let’s give this simple example. The Head of Marketing in the company might know someone outside the company, who happens to be on LinkedIn, who could be an excellent client. However because the Head of Marketing is not on LinkedIn and he is not constantly in touch with the business development team, there is a missed opportunity to pursue a potential client for the company using LinkedIn. Or maybe one of the programmers in the company has a great contact at a local IT company in the city, which could be a potential service provider. However because the programmer is not allowed to be on LinkedIn, you cannot take advantage of this relationship on LinkedIn. The programmer would have to find another way of introducing this contact and because this might not be a focus area for him, he is not likely to take it as a priority.
The Big Question – For companies, LinkedIn efficiently and effectively answers the following question: Who in the company knows whom? By encouraging everyone in the company to be on LinkedIn, the various teams in the company can use referrals from staff in the company to obtain valuable contacts outside the company. Thus cold leads can effectively become warm leads because there is someone who personally knows that lead and can do a referral on LinkedIn. LinkedIn will show you how you are connected to someone and that person can provide an introduction via the site. It bridges the gap between people in a network comprising first, second and third level connections. You could argue that the same introduction could be done via email. True, however, this is much less efficient and only so much information can be contained in an email whereas a complete LinkedIn profile is much richer with information and insights. When you connect via email you miss out the opportunity of seeing who your new contact is also connected to. Why not do this on a platform designed for this, LinkedIn?
Moving from Reactive to Proactive – Companies should take a proactive view to using LinkedIn. Looking at the vision and objectives of your company, a proactive view should be taken on how to fully maximise on such sites as LinkedIn. After all the site now has over 160 million professionals registered globally, 1.7 million users in South Africa of which a good number are decision makers, the people you want to be talking to in the business. More than 1,500 professionals in South Africa are joining LinkedIn every single day. What does this mean for your business? The mindset must change from one of living in fear to one of living in opportunity and potential.
Company page needs people – The company page on LinkedIn is a great way to showcase your corporate brand. However, even the best company page on LinkedIn will not be effective without complete staff profiles from the company. These staff profiles give a soul to your company, a face that outsiders can connect with. When your company is listed as having 50 to 100 people yet only 5 people have LinkedIn company profile, what message does this send to a visitor on LinkedIn? Are you serious about your brand? Do they want to be doing business with you?
Encouraging Everyone to take the leap – Why not encourage everyone in the company to be on LinkedIn. Get to establish who knows who and take advantage of the compounded networking that results using LinkedIn. You have to admit that because of the hectic demands of each day and other needs in the business, typically there is very little time for everyone in the company to actually sit down and map their contacts who could be valuable to the company. Sometimes someone has no way of knowing that a contact could be valuable to the company simply because they have never had a conversation touching on the topic. There is a good chance that such an activity has not been thought of anyway as a way to grow leads or referrals in the company. We are now in the relationship economy and all companies need to take advantage of this to grow their brands and businesses.
Brand Ambassadors they are! – Remember that everyone who works in your company is also your brand ambassador. Get your employees to grow the brand of the company through their personal profiles and through the company page on LinkedIn. Typically before a potential recruit joins the company, he will check out the company’s presence online including the LinkedIn company page, and the personal profiles of the people working in the company and Google search results. Now with just a few people on the LinkedIn Company page that actually have complete LinkedIn profiles, the potential recruit might have a number of unanswered questions about the company, its culture and what the brand is about? Why not preempt these questions through comprehensive and complete LinkedIn company page and LinkedIn personal profiles for staff in the company.
Give Guidelines, manage the risk – As part of your social media policy in the company you can outline the DOs and DON’TS of conduct on a site like LinkedIn and help to manage the risk. Ultimately if staff are unhappy at the company it will show up in one way or the other, they will either leave at some stage or maybe it’ll also be seen in level of productivity of the quality of work regardless of their presence or activity on LinkedIn.
Intellectual Property, a key issue – Perhaps you are worried about the company’s intellectual property (IP), that a site like LinkedIn could lead to leakage of IP. Well before we even talk about LinkedIn, how have you covered or addressed this risk in your company. LinkedIn is just a medium like any other. The same IP could be lost when staff meet with outsiders in person or talk on the phone. The company should educate it’s staff on the risks involved of using not just LinkedIn but all social media in general.
TEAM – In conclusion there is a lot that companies can do to extract value from LinkedIn. However, that could start with a simple step of actually encouraging their staff to fully utilise the site and grow their own networks. Get the TEAM on LinkedIn. Remember Together Everyone Achieves More and this definitely applies to LinkedIn as well.
Your Thoughts or Comments – How is LinkedIn working for you as a company? I would love to hear from you.