Prospecting and the potential power of Linkedin

02 February 2011

Some of you may have read over the weekend at Reuters[1] that Linkedin is gearing up for an IPO, hoping to raise 110GBP million. The company was co-founded in 2002 by ex Paypal executive Reid Hoffman and now has over 90 million users[2] (4m in UK) using it for business networking, prospecting and recruitment. Reuters are predicting that this may trigger more web company IPOs. Company valuations are quite eye watering for the raft of Social players such as Facebook which are now claiming to be worth $50US billion.
Linkedin has been coming of age and has even started to register a profit recently.
Having used Linkedin for many years I’m sure it was no coincidence that they are now promoting their “paid for” services much more heavily than in the past with 50% off deals.  That is useful if you want to know who has been viewing your personal profile on line which may well help your prospecting with clients, although recruitment agencies are the heaviest users.
One of the key ways in which you can grow your personal network is to join or start a group within Linkedin. You can join up to 50 of them of the thousands listed and they cover all kinds of topics and it’s likely you could find some kindred spirits in any that share your special interests. I was amazed to see one group increase from 1 to over 970 members in a matter of days. The key is not to join them like a bull in a china shop and crash in and out of them, not adding value to any. Contributing to their discussions will make you more friends.
Another feature is that you can now put up a presentation on your Linkedin page although I’m not sure if it is yet working as the Google application kept crashing last time I tried to load it. You can link your blogs and Tweets to your Linkedin profile which also adds more interest.

In the Company section of Linkedin you can see which companies the employees used to work at and where they went next so giving some interesting insights. It also shows you the 3 employees who have the most recommendations within the company and gives you an insight as to whether the company has been growing its staff or not, if their staff are using Linkedin. Another interesting feature is that you can clearly see your competitor set and see which other companies were also browsed as shown in the American Express Business Travel example below.
As Linkedin raise more money to do more mining of their data I can see that the corporate world could be somewhat “Amazonified” ( I think that’s a new verb). That means we could start to see some very interesting company insights as Linkedin mine their data, which would help both recruitment companies and others in networking and prospecting. The key will be persuading individuals and companies to see the value of posting their full profiles and I wonder whether companies will be comfortable with the increased likelihood of poaching that this may potentially bring. However many will argue that the benefits of increased transparency of your company profile may well be good for business, especially if and when companies use it to determine if they want to do business with you.
How does your company look in Linkedin? Do share any useful tips below that you have discovered about Linkedin.

[1] Sat 29 January LinkedIn eyes $175 mln IPO; investors eye financials
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