What is Linkedin?
LinkedIn is the largest network of professional individuals in much of the western world and increasingly in the developing world as well. In the last few years LinkedIn has changed from purely a site for jobseekers into the most popular professional business platform in the UK.
Why Construction should use LinkedIn
Most of my construction clients who carry out a strategy exercise find that their customers, advocates, and even their competitors are on LinkedIn, along with most of their employees, but that they have no strategy to either use it for business benefits, or help their employees avoid public embarrassment.
In late 2013 I researched the UK construction membership of LinkedIn and identified over 500,000 construction professionals using LinkedIn, working for over 13,000 companies [Update: in March 2016 there were over 1 million construction professionals working for over 20k companies]. They are part of a group of 12-14 million UK LinkedIn users, many of whom access the platform at least once a week. [Update now over 20 million UK LinkedIn users].
It’s no surprise that LinkedIn is popular with construction professionals, because it is built on the principles that we apply in our businesses:
- A culture of referral;
- The importance of maintaining relationships between individuals, and
- Trust built on regular professional contact.
LinkedIn is like a telephone directory for the Internet generation, but it’s so much more. If you connect to people you know on LinkedIn, the platform adds value to every person, by making your network visible, showing you who they know, and helping you sustain and develop business relationships efficiently. Search for people on LinkedIn, and you can see who you know, knows them.
So LinkedIn is a tool for your real life network, and not just for you, but also for your clients and their contacts. Join LinkedIn and help your clients recommend you to their peers.
Business Benefits of Linkedin for Construction
Linkedin can help you:
- Research customers and prospects
- Demonstrate your professional expertise
- Drive targeted, high quality traffic to your website
- Obtain introductions from happy clients
- Initiate and nurture relationships with prospects
Put Linkedin to Work
Why do we need to teach our staff to use Linkedin properly? On one hand, its ecosystem is a powerful tool for research, lead generation and nurturing, and using it properly can give you competitive advantage.
On the other hand, if you pile in and make some of the common mistakes (like inviting people you don’t know to connect) you could have your account suspended and damage your employer’s reputation.
I recommend that you learn the advantages and risks of Linkedin. Your client-facing staff should have training to enable them to use LinkedIn as a tool in their work, and that other staff learn how it works, what to do and equally important, what not to do.
In house training for your team is available by appointment – please get in touch with your requirements.
If you’re not sure whether Linkedin should be part of your Social Media Strategy, read more about how to develop a strategy here.
Image: by Nan Palmero (creative commons)