LinkedIn is an economic and influence powerhouse not a place to put your CV

Misunderstood as a good ‘place to put your CV’ LinkedIn is instead a powerhouse of economic data that can predict and fill skills gaps, uncover rare, high-demand talent and is now one biggest publishing house in the world with its 380-million readership, strangely enough creating sales spikes for traditional publishers.

Equity raisings have been done on LinkedIn. One Australian business expanded into 27 countries using a LinkedIn-only approach. BT used LinkedIn to drive 5x 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 it.

Equity raising

Of course in any regulated area following the rules in your jurisdiction is non-negotiable but LinkedIn allows you to –

  1. Tell your story directly
  2. Identify value-added potential investors including past investors in comparable funds
  3. Engage with experts, potential investors, entrepreneurs, investment banks and intermediaries thought content, groups and mail at every stage of the investment cycle
  4. Grow a trusted network through common connections, reaching out to relevant people and by nurturing 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 1,000 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 percent have changed relationships or reallocated investments as a result.

From a brand perspective, a further 28 percent of investors said they would see a financial company as “innovative” or a “leader in the industry” for offering social options.

So how are we doing?

  1.  United States: In the US, most Fortune 100 companies use social media andaccording to LinkedIn in 2013, all executives from Fortune 500 companies were members of LinkedIn.
  2. United Kingdom: The FTSE100 Social Media Index shows 86% of FTSE100 businesses used LinkedIn as part of their communications strategy.
  3. Australia: Last year research by Web Profits on the social media activity of Australia’s top publicly listed companies found almost half the top 100 companies don’t bother.

Nonetheless awareness and use of social media is growing. For example, a study conducted in 2013 by Beaton Research and Consulting for Zurich on use of social media for financial advisors showed a ‘123% growth in advisers’ usage of Twitter since December 2011 and a 74% growth in the use of LinkedIn.” (Arguably off a low base.)

According to a joint Putnam-FIT Consulting Survey of Financial Advisors’ Use of Social Media nearly half of advisors using social media for business acquired new clients through social networking.

You can get your content out through status updates, as posts or using the slide sharing platform Slide share, which allows you to include rich media like video, which can be viewed anywhere, anytime and also showcased on your profile.

Actions:

  1. Map the kinds of people you need to reach at each stage of the investment cycle
  2. Use advanced LinkedIn search to identify them, reach out through common connections or directly
  3. Develop a content strategy that gets your narrative in front of them including through SlideShare
  4. Interact directly, in comments, through groups and by sharing – create a community and generate interest.

See earlier series on the right way to link in using LinkedIn.

Business growth

CEO Craig McDonald expanded his company Mail Guard 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 as well as after hours communication.

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 #2 social selling expert in the world, says social media hasfundamentally 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 a process and when they get to something between 50% – 80% of the way through the buying cycle they actually engage with the salesperson.

Action:

  1. When you make a contact immediately extend the invite on LinkedIn
  2. Send a follow-up message
  3. Set a reminder notice in LinkedIn email to touch base
  4. Provide value by sharing with information you know they are interested in.

Cut your marketing budget then 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.

Actions:

  1. Create a LinkedIn poll to get answers to questions and amplify the results by sharing them on other social media channels
  2. Post a status update that asks a question or engages your followers around an interesting topic
  3. 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 and because companies can’t afford to wait 2 – 4 years to find talent, immersive 6-12-week boot camps have emerged as a way to fill that gap.

1 in 100 members did bootcamps in 2011 by 2014 it was 8000 and this year 16,000 graduates are predicted.

Who should 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 be used to 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. 65% of HackerYou’s graduates are women, compared with 27 out of the 150+ university programs, at 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.

Actions:

  1. Build a company page
  2. Encourage employees to use LinkedIn to amplify your brand
  3. 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 that all the combined news programs in Australia. TV’s 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. (I talk about this with the ABC here.)

LinkedIn is a significant publishing house, one of the biggest in the world, with 1 million unique publishers publishing 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 LinkedIn. 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:

  1. Get clear on your strategic intent and develop a content strategy that delivers it
  2. If you don’t have time to write original content, read and post comments on others’ content
  3. Use free professional curation sites like 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 for a dream role? That’s what your LinkedIn profile should look like because increasingly what you will send. And unlike 1974, 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’.

This post first appeared on SmartCompany.