Mark Amtower

OPINION

Is 2014 your year to master LinkedIn?

Most surveys I have seen over the past couple years have indicated the widespread adoption of social networking as a business tool, especially LinkedIn.

However one study I read recently made me stop and think about it differently. The study indicated that only 10 percent of C-levels found LinkedIn a valuable marketing tool.

I compared this to what I teach regarding the use of LinkedIn and it made sense. While the adoption of social networks over the past three years has risen, the level of use and expertise varies widely. I classify the adopters into four groups:

  • The Dormant
  • The Curious who are attracted by all the activity and are toying with engagement
  • Active and Improving
  • Active, Engaged and Growing their business

Mark Amtower's LinkedIn for Government Contractors workshop is March 12 in McLean and April 8 in Columbia. Email him for details @ mark@federaldirect.net and mention Washington Technology for a 10 percent discount.


 

My years of unscientific research on LinkedIn has led me to believe that 70 percent of those on LinkedIn are there in a largely passive mode, possibly looking around and watching what others are doing, but not yet engaging.

At least 35 percent, and probably more, fall into the Dormant group. Another 35 percent fall into the Curious group. Active and Improving is next at about 20 percent.

This leaves 10 percent as Active, Engaged and Growing, matching the results of the 10 percent study.

The study indicating that only 10 percent of those surveyed thought LinkedIn was valuable tool did not go into why people believed certain things, but let me offer a few observations from my aforementioned unscientific study:

  • The recurrent myth, especially popular among CEOs, that social networking platforms are used by those looking for jobs, or those poaching key employees
  • The  more active you are, the more you are approached by people you don’t know and probably don’t want to know
  • “I don’t want people knowing what I’m doing”
  • “I don’t want my employees sharing company secrets”
  • The simple fact that many people are lazy and will do new things only when told to do so by their supervisor, and then do the minimum required

The telltale sign of the passive approach is a poor profile, one lacking details or anything that might cause someone reading it to be interested.

Many  of those on LinkedIn, including CEOs, senior sales, marketing and business development professionals, have not taken the time necessary to understand the full value of this platform.

Well beyond providing a platform for job seekers and recruiters, LinkedIn offers a broad range of activities for those willing to spend some time mastering it. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Identify and connect with key contacts in client organizations
  • Build deeper relationships with government agencies and major contractors
  • Find communities (groups) of people with shared interests
  • Research prospects and competitors
  • Share useful information about your company
  • Share info that might influence the TA portion of LPTA
  • Set up meetings with prospects
  • Establish credentials as a subject matter expert
  • Develop and manage a professional network in ways you may never have imagined
  • Grow your business

So, while almost 100 percent of the business community has adopted LinkedIn, only about 10 percent have fully adapted and have started to leverage LinkedIn.

This reminds me so much of the mid-1990s conundrum over the use of email. CEOs were saying the feds would never adopt it, that employees would only use it for personal matters, especially the classic “honey do” list.

The same applies to LinkedIn. It is critical to grasp both the value of the platform and the fact that the market is here, even if seemingly dormant. The dormant will wake up, it’s just a matter of when.

So ask yourself, is this my year to finally master LinkedIn?

If the answer is yes, start looking for the right resources to help you adapt, engage and grow.



Reader Comments

Thu, Feb 20, 2014 Tom

Excellent article Mark, I really like the way your captured the levels of engagement. I also like the "reasons" some people aren't engaged, without knowing or understanding all the privacy controls that exist (and that they control). Glad I took your LinkedIn class year, it was well worth the time and cost!

Wed, Feb 19, 2014 Lee Frederiksen

Mark- You are so right about the value of LinkedIn. Our research shows that it is one of the prime ways prospects check out you and your firm...lwf

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