LinkedIn, the social media site for business professionals. Launched in 2003, the site has been attracting roughly 1 million members weekly. As of March 2011, its worldwide membership had surpassed the 100 million mark. The site is available in six languages and 200 countries, which means that it can help B2B interactions overcome geographical boundaries. In particular, LinkedIn can boast that executives from all the Fortune 500 companies have memberships on its site. Accordingly, its promise for networking, whether individually or for the company, is virtually unsurpassed. Such networking entails several key groups:

  • Customers and prospective customers. LinkedIn allows a firm or its representatives to introduce themselves to possible buyers, using a credible and easily accessible format. The Q&A option on LinkedIn pages also allow customers to ask questions and suppliers to demonstrate their expertise.
  • Investors. The LinkedIn page offers tangible evidence of the firm’s existence and its promise, which is critical information for outsiders who might be willing to invest in its development.
  • Suppliers. By starting their own group on LinkedIn, B2B buyers might better identify which suppliers in the market are best matched with their needs and most interested in providing the resources they need
  • Employees and prospective employees. LinkedIn is a great source for finding employees who are diligent, professional, interested, and qualified. Furthermore, if a firm retains its links to former employees, it can gain a good source of referrals—assuming those employees left on good terms.
  • Analysts. The job of an analyst is to find detailed information about a company and then recommend it, or not, to the market. LinkedIn gives firms a means to provide that information in a credible but still firm-controlled context.

The site also provides sophisticated analytics for keeping track of all these networking opportunities. Users can see who visited their pages, which descriptions they viewed, and even compare their LinkedIn performance against competitors’ pages.

Have you used LinkedIn for finding a job opportunity or learning more about an industry?

Heidi Cohen, “5 LinkedIn Business Goals,” March 25, 2011, http://heidicohen.com/linkedin-business-goals/ (accessed June 1, 2011). Maria Tabaka, “How to Launch a LinkedIn Company Page,” Inc., April 17, 2011.