LinkedIn - how much is it worth? And are UK recruiters using it to its full potential?

Linkedin - how much is it worth?

As the BBC reports, LinkedIn have raised £27 million from investors - valuing the 5 year old business at a billion dollars. Not bad going.

Trick here is going to be what exactly LI are going to use the funds for. Clearly they're in a great position already with first mover advantage in the online business networking space. What I find notable about LinkedIn is that they are one of the few businesses that have been signficantly ahead of the game and have gone on to benefit from consumer behaviour catching up with them! Wonder if they had any idea just how much of a shift there was going to be in online user characteristics. Web 2.0 certainly wasn't even a twinkle in a marketers eye when LI launched. Think about it. We've all got a profile these days. Wind the clock back two years.. How many people a) had a profile b) had a sensible approach to using it for commercial benefit and finally c) of all the people with profiles, how often did they check it?

I've been impressed with what I've seen from LI recently. Have you all spotted the company profile feature? Type in a company name - just before the list of people on LI that are working at that firm you'll see a link to the profile. If you haven't clicked this already I really urge you to do so. What you'll see is effectively real time market intelligence. Recruitment/ search professionals are all over LI for obvious reasons. Type in a big brand recruiter and you'll see:

* Background/ overview of the company operations
* How many employees they have on LinkedIn
* Where these people are based
* Breakdown in demographics - male/ female ration, which Universities their people are from, median age
* New hires
* Recent promotions
* Where employees are most connected to
* Share price performance chart

One final feature, which I love, is that the company profile shows you where most employees worked before they joined, and the most common destinations when people move on. Think about how hard you'd have to work pre web to get that sort of info. Today its a click away!

Using Michael Page as an example, you can see :
- The most common University is Nottingham
- 12% of all their registered LI profiles are for Managers, 4% for Director
- 58% Male, median age 28
- Hays, Derwent Executive, Talent2, PWC and Accenture are common post MP employers
- PWC is a the most popular employer before joining MP.

All the info there is straight from LinkedIn. Try it out.

As a recruiter, either internal or agency, this info is gold dust. If you flip this onto one of you clients, how powerful is it to know where the most common hire profiles are, where they studied, where they're likely to be working. Talk about working smart!

This is a great use of the net for recruiters. Oh and its free.

I still dont believe UK recruiters are making the most of LI as a tool to build their individual profile, company brand or even source candidates and target clients. There are people out there doing a good job at it but I believe they're in the minority. Look at the US. Anyone heard of Shally Steckerl? bet you have. Looks like he's built a sizeable business off the back off his LI profile and sourcing strategies. We've got some catching up to do in the UK (again, sorry to refer to the MP profile again - but they have more registered LI users in NY than in London? That can't be right?)

I'm hoping that LI use some of their cash injection to develop some new features. If you can beat the company profile, I'll be impressed. The rest of the cash? The LI site allows individuals and businesses to build profile. I'd like to see LI spend some money on raising awareness on just what can be achieved with their site. Curveball? Will we see the business networking sites follow the same path as job boards? IE start generalist then go specialist, then add geographical focus? Will we see LI start to offer gated communities and compete with the likes of Visual CV?

I wonder....

Alex Strang

Alex is an associate consultant of Carve Consulting where this post first appeared

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