Many people have a profile on LinkedIn and some connections. However, most of them ask themselves: what can I actually do with it? What is the added value of LinkedIn for me?
The most important reasons why LinkedIn is such a powerful tool, are:
•It is the largest online business network with more than 35 million members worldwide. In 2008 LinkedIn grew from 19 million members to 34 million and it is still growing.
•The power of LinkedIn is that it makes the relationships between people visible.
The consequence of those two aspects is that the chances are big that the person you want to do business with also has a Profile on LinkedIn and that you can see who you have in common.
Don’t let the “simplicity” of this fool you. Never before we had the chance to see which personal contact of ours could introduce us to our prospects.
Before LinkedIn good sales people already thought who they could ask for referrals. Doing business is so much easier when a mutual contact introduces you to a prospect. The trust between the two other parties is transferred to you. This increases your chances to make a sale dramatically. Before LinkedIn good sales people thought about which contact could possibly know potential customers. The disadvantage of this approach is that they had to make some guesses about the network of their contacts. Another disadvantage was that they sometimes got referrals to people or organizations which didn’t qualify as potential customers after all. The result: a significant loss of valuable time of all parties involved.
LinkedIn helps to deal with this process much more effectively and efficiently. LinkedIn helps to reverse the situation: instead of guessing who your network could introduce you to, you look up potential customers on LinkedIn (via their name or via parameters like function, industry and geography). Since many people are on LinkedIn chances are high you won’t only find them, but also the people you have in common.
LinkedIn uncovers many unexpected relationships between people. It is already hard to maintain our own contacts and keep up to date of all the changes in our own network. It is impossible to know who the people from our network know. LinkedIn shows these relationships. Your neighbour who you never discuss business with might be connected to the prospect you are already trying to get in touch with for a long time!
About Jan Vermeiren
Based in Holland, Jan Vermeiren is a networking coach, author and professional speaker. He is the founder of Networking Coach and author of the networking book "Let's Connect!"