Mark Huxley speaks about his continuing love affair with LinkedIn, the importance of staying connected with industry peers and how he has rekindled various old professional relationships that might otherwise have been lost. He discusses why LinkedIn is such a crucial social media tool for professionals worldwide and what you might be missing out on if you choose to ignore it. ______
I have been a member of LinkedIn for quite some time now and to me it has become an integral part of my working life. I love the connections I have made, more so I have relished the countless numbers of my own working past that I have reconnected with. I follow many of the debates that the Groups throw up with a passion and it has become an automatic go-to place for much of the research I do. I cannot then fathom those that I speak to who refuse to use it or have a closed mind to all the benefits it can bring.
I think it is the truth to say that LinkedIn is the single form of professional social media that we recommend to every single client we work with. To me it is the world’s largest online directory of professional people, the companies they work for, the Groups that interest us all, the endless volumes of research and communication tools as another tool. None of us would not use the phone or email, so why would someone elect not to use LinkedIn?
- 150 million users Worldwide
- 8 million users in the UK
- 2 new members sign up every second
- Circa 4.2 billion searches made on it in 2011
- More than 2 million companies now have profiles on LinkedIn
So why do we advocate it so widely? Firstly and most importantly, unlike all other social media channels it exists for one reason alone; it is purely for professional people undertaking their professional lives. In that task, it cannot be doubted that they have utterly succeeded.
If you make the leap of faith and start using it, after some polishing of your LinkedIn skills (which many a trained professional can help you with) you will soon be:
- Keeping in touch with an entire network of people, crossing many professional boundaries. With their own activity everything will be current, saving you lots of hard work in keeping track of what they are up to. Don’t forget friends beget friends, so you will be able to constantly build your own network, sharing friends old and new
- You can invite your rolodex of business cards to come join your network
- Share and collaborate upon what you are working upon and for that matter anything of wider interest to you and them
- By joining the myriad of Groups that it has, you can drill into specific sectors and topics, seeing the current thinking and rumours on the street.
- Actively join in discussions, either asking questions or sharing sagely opinions
- Keep in touch with companies that are of specific interest to you, who’s joining, who’s left, what are they doing right now
- Research more about the people you are going to meet for the first time. What is their role at the company, how long have they been there, where did they come from, what have they done in their past
- Take out one of the paid for packages and you can see who’s been looking at your profile, really helpful if you’ve been targeting a specific person or company
Frankly the list is endless and every day LinkedIn creates new services that are aimed at making all our professional lives just that little bit easier and more interesting. If I finish with one word of caution, then it is that LinkedIn is only a tool, like your phone or email. The real art of networking is still the face-to-face time that makes the whole working relationship work. They are still founded upon friendship that harbours trust and builds the opportunities to prove worth in work, act or deed, which leads to the long-term relationship. This must never ever be forgotten!