What is LinkedIn – A Guide To The Digital Rolodex

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Most of my friends are either in the work world or are in the process of finishing up some form of school and the following question has come up numerous times – What is LinkedIn?

I’m not saying I know what LinkedIn is, what their vision is, what their roadmap looks like, or what they want to be when they grow up but I do know how I use it and that is what I’ve been sharing with those that ask me, “what is LinkedIn?”

I think it’s as simple as this.

1. LinkedIn is the new roladex.

When you meet someone in a business setting, you typically exchange business cards. But its very likely that in 2 years that business card is obsolete. With LinkedIn, you can see where people move on to. You can follow their career.

2. Sales Prospecting

Trying to find a new client you want to sell something to? All you have to do is search for the position and the company of the person you are trying to contact and you’ll get a hit list of folks that could be a good fit for your sale. You will almost certainly find the person you are looking for or you’ll find someone relatively close.

3. Recruiting

When you are looking to hire someone to your company you often base your search on a certain skill set you need (e.g. position, title or education) a certain perspective (e.g. industry or company), or a certain degree of loyalty (e.g. avg 3 yrs+ at each company). There could be more attributes you evaluate when hiring but the point here is that most of those attributes can be found in someone’s LinkedIn profile page.

4. Background Checks

When going into a meeting, it’s often helpful to know a thing or two about the person you are going to meet with. LinkedIn is a very good resource in this department considering most people have their schools, past work experience, organizations, awards, groups, and even blog posts all listed in their profile.

5. Introductions

There could be a million and one reasons why you would want to meet with someone in a business setting and LinkeIn prides itself an helping people access the social networks of others.

In summary, I think LinkedIn is nothing more than the new Rolodex but when you consider how dynamic this new rolodex really is, you quickly see how powerful this service can be. Furthermore, their recent acquisition of CardMunch further validates how serious they are about helping you organize your business cards and your business contacts.

In the future, I’d like to see LinkeIn develop strong partnerships and integrations with all of the CRM providers for sales pipelines and account management. For all of you that use Salesforce or equivalent CRMs, I’m sure you get very frustrated having to enter contact information of people you already have in your LinkedIn network. This could be a huge win for LinkedIn but for now, it’s still super helpful for the 4 points above…at least for me anyway.

How do you use LinkedIn?

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