I have personally found LinkedIn’s best uses lie in the creative strategies practitioners have devised on their own, thus my recent favorite five tactics, to wit:
1. Scoping the Competition
This is the strategy my client accomplished last week. He had asked me the week prior, as he prepared for annual budget planning, if there was any way of assessing just how large his competitor’s marketing team and budget might be?
I opened LinkedIn and ran a search on the company’s name and any job titles that contained marketing or communications. Voila—the search produced an immediate list. As he began to peruse their titles, I suggested he temporarily change his privacy restrictions to make his views and searches anonymous. Within a few minutes of searching we were able to see how many results appeared for people currently employed in the company’s entire base and of those, how many are working in marketing. While not every employee is registered on LinkedIn, surely, he’d arrived at a reasonably close estimate of the percentage of the company’s employees who are working in marketing, which would equate at least somewhat to the level of the company’s percentage of revenue devoted to marketing efforts as well.
As may be expected, a search of employees both past and present was also helpful in illustrating a fairly significant level of churn. How long do employees typically stay at the company in question? With a bit more calculation, now we know. Some of the former marketing employees had gone into private consulting practices. Extra helpful. Subject to the confidentiality aspects of their prior employment, of course, the client knows which consultants might be especially beneficial in helping him scope out his own future competitive plans.
But my clever client showed me how he’d taken the results a step further: he’d created a simple Word document that outlined the competitive company’s full department, by job title. Next to it, he placed a column to illustrate the corresponding people and roles in his own team. The result was a picture worth more than a few thousand words. The difference was profound. He was able to inform his management team that he recognized it would not be possible to fill the resource chasm in the space of a year, but would strongly suggest the addition of four strategic new hires, and flipped his screen to show the comparison with the addition of the four new positions, in blue. He’d made his case with a single image, and indications are strong that his proposal will be entirely approved. A smart strategy.
2. Job scoping/background checks
Yes, we fairly well all use LinkedIn to accomplish background checks, but consider the call I recently received from a regional tech company. It wasn’t a recruiter, but an internal executive who phoned.
“I need to make a PR hire that will really ‘wow’ our senior executives,” she said. “Of the resumes that have crossed my desk, I know that three of these individuals have prior connections to you. I’d like to hear your unvarnished reactions to each.”
Bear in mind that I knew nothing of the position she had opened prior to the call and that I hadn’t been listed as a reference for any of three prospects. In fact I’d never even worked at the same company as one of the three. I gave her my feedbacks. In one of the cases, the individual had been a prior employee who had departed impulsively and badly. I might have shared that information, but I never got that far. As she heard a bit about the juvenile choices the individual had made here and there—the things a young employee thinks the boss doesn’t hear about or won’t matter—she replied, “Say no more. I wouldn’t touch this employee with a 100-foot pole. He won’t be getting a call.”
In a word: LinkedIn.
Strategies 3-5 and the complete Forbes article