Imagine how incredible it would be to set up an internet business that even once it hits a membership level of 36 million people, it continues to add a new member every second. This is what LinkedIn has accomplished, and unlike most businesses which struggle through a recession, this web wonder has worked its way from strength to strength. In fact, this time last year it had 3.6 million unique monthly visitors. Today? 7.7 million. A month.
It’s easy to understand the rise of LinkedIn during tough and troubled times. Desperate employees seeking the limited opportunities available in the marketplace have finally resigned themselves to “giving this thing a go”. Many adults who have been laid off are now so eager to try anything, even (gulp) that dreaded social networking, that they’re happily hopping online to take a sticky-beak, and before you know it, they’re joining groups, updating statuses, and deleting contacts that aren’t making enough of an effort. All of a sudden, older citizens see the value in Gen Ys’ fascination with finding friends the fast way – via a keyboard.
The business benefits of LinkedIn are publicised as much as Pauline Hanson’s mistaken identity “pants-down” crisis, so here are two main suggestions on how you can use it to help you with managing your employees.
Firstly, it’s a great recruitment tool. Rather than posting a job advertisement where the applicants will be those in need of a job, LinkedIn enables you to find people who aren’t even looking for one. You can slowly build meaningful relationships with select contacts, and then when your business is ready, offer them a job. You go straight to the source (the talent, so to speak), rather than to a pool of trying-to-be-cool wannabes which is what often happens on internet job boards and newspaper classifieds.
Secondly, by getting your employees onto LinkedIn, you can create a group just for your staff so that you can interact with each other in a whole new way. The perceived danger in this is that by getting your employees onto LinkedIn, you’re potentially creating an avenue for them to be nabbed by another employer. But really, if you’re worried your employees are going to jump ship just for jumping on a website, my guess is there are probably greater underlying issues in your management style than you care to admit.
I must admit, I was a reluctant user of LinkedIn. I joined at a time when I couldn’t bear to hear another person ask me if I was “LinkedIn”. I remember thinking, it’s a verb now? I’m not there yet with Twitter – although I can feel myself ready to move up from being a thumb-sucking neophyte to someone who succumbed to the groundswell of online progress. Any day now…
Has LinkedIn worked for you? Does this online stuff turn you on or turn you off?