If you think LinkedIn is just a good ‘place to put your CV’ than you are missing out on the platform’s huge business benefits and potential.
LinkedIn is a powerhouse of economic data that can predict and fill skills gaps, uncover rare, high-demand talent and is now one biggest publishing houses in the world. With a 380 million-strong readership it can even, strangely enough, create sales spikes for traditional publishers.
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Equity raisings have been done on LinkedIn. One Australian business expanded into 27 countries using a LinkedIn-only approach. BT used LinkedIn to drive five-times more social interaction. NBC Congress Centre amplified the reach of its content by almost 50%.
Thought-leaders, venture capitalists, talent-seekers, those who want to grow clout internally or transition careers and even students who need to know what degrees will get them a foot in the door with their dream company can leverage the professional network.
Of course, in any regulated area following the rules in your jurisdiction is non-negotiable but LinkedIn allows you to:
- Tell your story directly
- Identify value-added potential investors including past investors in comparable funds
- Engage with experts, potential investors, entrepreneurs, investment banks and intermediaries’ thought content, groups and mail at every stage of the investment cycle
- Grow a trusted network through common connections, reaching out to relevant people and nurture the connections you already have.
A quick search for equity raising on LinkedIn puts you directly in front of relevant experts, groups and content whether you’re looking to attract funding or for the right opportunity to invest.
David Teten, Chairman of Harvard Business School Alumni Angels says social media is key to investment strategy and that of the 1000 venture capitalists in the US actively seeking deals about 10-15% blog.
Social media can be used through the whole investment cycle to raise capital, originate investments, for due diligence and exit investment.
We know investors act on the information they find on LinkedIn. According to Cogent Research high-wealth investor groups use social media to inform investment decisions and up to 70% have changed relationships or reallocated investments as a result.
You can get your content out through status updates, as posts or using the slide-sharing platform SlideShare, which allows you to include rich media like video that can be viewed anywhere, anytime and also showcased on your profile.
These actions will help you find investment on LinkedIn:
- Map the kinds of people you need to reach at each stage of the investment cycle
- Use advanced LinkedIn search to identify them, reach out through common connections or directly
- Develop a content strategy that gets your narrative in front of them including through SlideShare
- Interact directly, in comments, through groups and by sharing – create a community and generate interest.
CEO Craig McDonald expanded his company MailGuard into 27 countries with a LinkedIn-only approach heavily based around publishing content.
McDonald says one reason LinkedIn content is so powerful is that people tend to read content after hours when they’re more open and accessible, to the message.
Sales expert Ken Krogue says LinkedIn shortens the sales pathway which typically requires six contacts before a prospect tips over, because extending a ‘real life’ connection into LinkedIn and talking there increases the number of touches.
When someone clicks on your profile and is also able to see that you’re publishing or sharing there’s also immediate resonance and a reason to engage. It takes cold calling pretty much out of the equation.
Timothy Hughes, the No. 2 social selling expert in the world, says social media has fundamentally impacted the sales process and will continue to transform the way we grow business into the future, with 25% of B2B salespeople jobs no longer existing.
Hughes says the biggest change has been in the buying process because people use Google to search and make purchasing decisions without necessarily involving a salesperson.
Hughes says 72% of buyers are going through such a process and only when they get to somewhere between 50% – 80% of the way through the buying cycle they actually engage with the salesperson.
These actions will help sell on LinkedIn:
- When you make a contact immediately extend the invite on LinkedIn
- Send a follow-up message
- Set a reminder notice in LinkedIn email to touch base
- Provide value by sharing with information you know they are interested in.
Cut your marketing budget and add it back in where it counts
Want to cut your marketing budget by 25%? Think about using LinkedIn to ask industry experts, employees or prospects what they think about an issue, your product, a new initiative, the list is really endless.
You can tap into the collective intelligence of industry-specific groups, use status updates to ask questions or share polls.
Reallocate the money you save back as an investment into building a strong, strategic and committed social media team that will amplify your brand and generate leads.
Take these markeing actions on LinkedIn:
- Create a LinkedIn poll to get answers to questions and amplify the results by sharing them on other social media channels
- Post a status update that asks a question or engages your followers around an interesting topic
- Ask groups for input about gaps in the market, product names, customer experience, dos and don’ts. People are generous and willing to share experiences online.
Rare talent, real-time skill
Right now LinkedIn data shows we can’t fill the demand for jobs like software engineering because companies can’t afford to wait two to four years to find talent, so immersive 6-12-week boot camps have emerged as a way to fill that gap
One in 100 members did bootcamps in 2011 by 2014 it was 8000 and this year it’s predicted there will be 16,000 graduates.
Who should you care about this? Employers wanting talent. Human resource professionals looking to grow internal talent. Governments needing to partner with private industry to generate future jobs. Entrepreneurs looking for business opportunities.
While LinkedIn data can validate a training approach such as the one above, it’s about something much deeper – the ability to predict skills and close gaps using real-time economic data that maps employers’ needs with skill availability and then provides training solutions on platforms like Lynda.com, which LinkedIn acquired recently.
There can be unintended benefits to this non-traditional training approach. For for example, women are underrepresented in tech but make up 40% of bootcamp graduates. Sixty-five per cent of HackerYou’s graduates are women, compared with 27 out of the 150-plus university programs, making up 20%.
Do they work?
According to the LinkedIn official blog top 10 companies employing bootcamp graduates include Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Salesforce, Accenture, American Express, and LinkedIn.
We also know of the rising business stars referred to as ‘new wavers’ 80% didn’t go to an Ivy League university for their undergraduate education, and only 15% earned a M.B.A.
Training and recruitment actions to take on LinkedIn:
- Build a company page
- Encourage employees to use LinkedIn to amplify your brand
- Check out Lynda on LinkedIn.
Pick yourself, grow authority and influence
Nowadays you can reject the tyranny of being picked, as Seth Godin says.
Instead you can pick yourself by creating excellent content and sharing it on social media channels to grow influence and authority.
This does not mean traditional media is dead, media as a whole has morphed.
For example, some YouTube channels get more views a day than all the combined news programs in Australia. TV is still important as part of a mix, as are other channels, but they feed off each other.
We saw this recently with the leadership change in Australia where #libspill trended on Twitter and drove people back to independent bloggers and also traditional media channels, then back to social channels for discussion and further links. There’s no either/or in this space anymore.
LinkedIn is a significant publishing house, one of the biggest in the world, with 1 million unique publishers putting out over 130,000 posts a week.
That’s an opportunity to showcase thought leadership and get content in front of decision-makers rather than tangled up in the middle management tree. Over 45% of readers are in the upper ranks of their industries – CEOs, presidents, vice presidents and so forth – the kinds of people who might be interested in your investment opportunity or growth strategy.
According to LinkedIn, major book publishers like Simon & Schuster also report spikes in sales every time their business authors write on the networking platform. The LinkedIn writers, in turn, are being approached by the media for comment once they’re recognised as experts in a particular field.
When you publish on LinkedIn your material shows on your profile, a form of ‘social proof ‘that you’re real and you know what you are talking about. It’s also a calling card to connect with other content producers and so expand your networks.
Actions to help you be a thought-leader on LinkedIn:
- Get clear on your strategic intent and develop a content strategy that delivers it
- If you don’t have time to write original content, read and post comments on others’ content
- Use free professional curation sites like Openfor.business by Meddle which allow you to extract content from an original article, make a comment and then distribute the ‘mini-blog’ widely. This way, many small impressions over time contribute towards create a digital footprint.
LinkedIn is of course also an excellent source of CVs and 94% of recruiters use it to identify and approach talent. The new LinkedIn jobs app means you can search by role and location and use your profile to apply with a click.
So what would you send to an employer if you were suddenly asked to submit an application for a dream role?
That’s what your LinkedIn profile should look like because increasingly that’s what you will send. A clear headshot, narrative written in the first person and a ‘searchable’ bio rather than just a job title will help you stand out. Because on a platform of 380 million professionals, it’s no good just being a marketer or a CEO.
Dionne Lew is the CEO of the Social Executive, an adviser to boards and senior executives on digital and social media rated in the top 1% for global community influence by Kred.