LinkedIn is a powerful tool: as of June 2012, more than 175 million people had created a profile on the social networking site dedicated to professional networking. The company says two new members sign up every second. Sure, not all those folks stay active on the site, but that’s still a lot of people sharing information on one website.
As market intelligence analysts, we often turn to LinkedIn when crafting and updating competitor and client profiles. The site’s company pages offer valuable information, particularly under the ‘insights’ tab. Employees with new titles can provide insight to a company’s organizational chart, while LinkedIn’s list of recent departures can offer a glimpse into the market, highlighting popular workplaces and career transitions.
It takes time to dig, but you can generally find much more useful information via the LinkedIn profiles of company employees than just by searching the company’s website or more traditional databases that focus on financial information.
LinkedIn is also a great resource for discovering more about an industry. Some discussion groups formed on LinkedIn are particular about membership; you need to have a certain corporate email address or have someone else verify you once worked with a particular company to join. But many are welcoming of people searching out and sharing information about industries and trends. And the discussion boards within groups are searchable, making it somewhat easier for you to find the types of content that are helpful.
Then there’s always the age-old form of market intelligence: your network. LinkedIn is like a massive Rolodex, with a hint of Six Degrees of Separation thrown in. Sure, you already know who you know … but LinkedIn helps point out who they know, and who they know, until it tells you you’re just one online (or in person) introduction away from that potential client you’re researching.
Looking for tips on how to set up or better manage your own LinkedIn account? For a legal-focused perspective, visit Adrian Dayton’s blog. He’s a lawyer who quite literally wrote the book on social media for the industry, including one specifically looking at LinkedIn. (He’ll even send you a chapter for free, if you ask!) If you’re a football fan, check out this post by Nicole Williams. She’s LinkedIn’s Career Expert-Connection Director; the company is part of a team helping coach former NFL players on how to transition careers.
This article was originally published on ShiftCentral, now part of LAC Group.