Thursday, December 27, 2007

LinkedIn Revisited

It has taken me nearly three years to become a junkie.

I first wrote about corporate social networking in April 2005 when I evaluated LinkedIn, Ryze and Jigsaw Data for their value as sales tools. At the time I concluded they had potential to facilitate networking, yet in no way could they replace the time and energy needed to cultivate meaningful business connections.

People do business with, invest in, work for or partner with companies they know and trust. Public relations establishes the connection and confers credibility. However, it doesn’t replace the bind of a personal relationship. This belief became the foundation of Strategic Communications Group’s (Strategic) Network of Relationships®, a proprietary business community for sales, recruitment, partnerships and teaming alliances.

In time, I began to receive invites each month from respected contacts inviting me to join their LinkedIn Network. The invites increased in number and frequency. Click…click…click, I accepted. I even sent out a few invites to new business prospects I had already met with and had an interest in representing. Click…click…click, they accepted.

My network comprised of my contacts and their contacts grew dramatically. LinkedIn began to introduce new features, such as a daily update of who in my network added contacts, a list of who viewed my profile, and an overview who is hiring and for what position. Rather than merely a tool to facilitate networking, LinkedIn evolved to become a source for market intelligence.

Then, the kicker: in December LinkedIn announced a partnership with BusinessWeek ( that will allow readers to connect with the people and businesses featured in the stories. The agreement represents the convergence of traditional and social media that will help make public relations results more measurable.

At Strategic, we’re now exploring ways to integrate LinkedIn with our business processes, including:

1. Helping clients develop LinkedIn profiles for their subject matter experts to maximize the impact of our media campaigns. We also plan on incorporating these profiles into press releases, op-eds, white papers and other content generated for clients.

2. Conducting rapid surveys to test a client’s positioning or messaging, prior to launching a campaign.

3. Leveraging the collective size and impact of our combined LinkedIn network to identify potential hires.

While I remain true to my conviction about the unequaled impact of a personal relationship, the value of a social networking site such as LinkedIn will continue to increase.

Saturday, December 22, 2007