The rise of Virtual networking: The importance of LinkedIn to SwissPeaks
Like many other businesses and individuals, we make use of the social media platform LinkedIn. A business orientated website that has been around before the days of Facebook. It is an environment for working professionals that appeals to those looking to gain new clients, expand their business networks or possibly employment.
As a company we spend several hours a week on LinkedIn making use of its networking potential. We spend this time connecting with professionals involved in our line of work, joining groups, involving ourselves in discussions and pushing out our own content for others to comment on.
In recent months we have been regularly asked “is LinkedIn actually useful?”. Our answer to this is that yes, it is a useful platform. In fact, we have attend several LinkedIn training sessions over the last month to help us make the best use of LinkedIn.
How does SwissPeaks use LinkedIn?
We currently use three SwissPeaks related LinkedIn profiles. These profiles play different roles but with similar goals in mind.
Our primary profile is our company page. This page provides LinkedIn users with an introduction to Swisspeaks; who we are and what we do. We use this page as a way of promoting interesting articles and to post our own hot hints and tips. This page is somewhat limited in its use as we cannot follow others or network within LinkedIn groups.
The SwissPeaks Company Page
Our company page is more of a place hold. A way for others to find out about us. Potential clients looking for a Market Research company, whether searching through LinkedIn or Google may come across our page. If they do, they will be able to see who we are, the services we provide, our employees and our previous experiences.
The other two pages we use are our director’s personal profiles. Andy and Simon are the face of SwissPeaks, and they make use of their personal pages to promote themselves and the company. They do this in a similar fashion to our company page. They are able to post interesting articles alongside their hints and tips.
Personal LinkedIn Pages
On their personal pages they are able to format their profile in a similar vein to a traditional CV. They can highlight previous experiences, skill sets, places of work and education. It is possible to also see uploaded documents, such as videos or papers. This is a useful means of highlighting previous work they have done. Furthermore, previously published posts, such as blogs, will be archived for users to see.
Crucially, what they can do as a personal page is different to our company page. They are able to connect personally with people, alongside being able to join relevant groups and involve themselves in that community. The advantages of this is that it allows for a more personal approach not available through a company page. They are able to demonstrate the personalities and experience behind SwissPeaks.
These three accounts are effectively linked together, with both Andy and Simon able to control the SwissPeaks company page where they can share content among the three accounts for greater impact and distribution.
Why do we use LinkedIn?
The world of Market Research gives us an ever changing landscape with new developments in work practices and in technology. it is not possible to keep up with all the changes that occur. Therefore, LinkedIn is a perfect way of ensuring we are always up-to-date with changes emerging within the field. Through the use of networking with similar professionals, being members of various groups and using the “timeline” feature it is possible to keep an eye on emerging developments.
More traditional networking, at pre-determined events often miles away, is not always a convenient method for many business people with busy schedules. It is often a time-consuming activity which may not always give back desired results. We have found that LinkedIn helps us to save time by reducing our reliance on this activity. We treat LinkedIn not so much as a typical social media platform; but as a networking event. LinkedIn provides SwissPeaks with a virtual networking event that is global in scale. It is an opportunity to find out who is involved in our field and about the work they are doing. Accordingly, we can look for ways how we can help each other in our work.
Furthermore, this networking allows for us to keep in touch with current and previous clients. Our work involves clients across many different countries who work for a variety of companies. Given these often vast geographical and time differences LinkedIn is the perfect tool for keeping in contact. I can simply wake up in the morning, check LinkedIn and all posts and activity is there for me to see no matter when it was posted.
We like to see what our clients have been up to, and furthermore, keen to promote developments within Swisspeaks. LinkedIn allows us to do this.
The importance of community
LinkedIn allows for members to create groups (or communities) on a specific topic for other members to join and discuss issues related to that matter. This is something that we look to make use of.
We are members of a variety of LinkedIn groups from Market Research communities, to groups dedicated to global development. As a company we are always interested in exploring new ways of doing and thinking. These groups also allow for us to get involved in discussions that include experts in the field from a variety of companies.
SwissPeaks are deeply experienced and in a position to provide not just great service, but education. We know we can provide efficient means of helping our clients, and we want them to adapt and pick up new ways of working from us. LinkedIn provides us with this opportunity to demonstrate our work practices and how others can benefit from similar behaviours. This can be achieved within these groups where we can post our blogs and hints and tips.
As with the majority on LinkedIn, we do use it as a platform for promoting who we are and what we can do for potential clients.
As a company we often rely on word of mouth referrals and so LinkedIn gives us an avenue to promote ourselves within a network of potential clients who specialise in our field. In recent months, using Google Analytics we have found that LinkedIn gives us our highest social media referral percentage on our website.
Whilst obviously all of the points above provide us with positives; you may be thinking “are there any negatives?”
Generally speaking, we have not found any negatives when using LinkedIn. Perhaps one, if we are being overzealous, is the existence of a free and paid version. There are various paid for versions of LinkedIn which contain features not able to be used in the free version.
However, for the most part, these extra features are not needed for LinkedIn to be a useful tool to all businesses. At a recent training session, a LinkedIn expert declared that the paid for version is only needed when the free version no longer meets your requirements.
Another negative we have found, which again might be us being overzealous, is LinkedIn members being reactionary rather than participatory. We like to get involved within our network, whether it is posting updates with articles we find interesting or our hot tips and contributing to discussions within group communities.
We have found that many are happy to simply “like” updates or to try and connect with others without entering any discussion.
SwissPeaks we like to get involved. It can create interesting discussions, provide new insights and maybe set us up with some new clients.
LinkedIn – Should you be using it?
Yes, you should be. Whether as a company expanding their clientele or as an individual looking to kick start their career. LinkedIn can provide a very useful tool.
At SwissPeaks we do hope that using LinkedIn will result in increased business for us as a company. However, generating income is not the only reason that we use this platform. LinkedIn allows for us to network with people globally from all sorts of backgrounds and professions.
We are going through a period of expansion and development as a company. This does not just involve increasing revenue, but promoting our reputation as a base of expertise in Market Research and how that can help issues that we are passionate about, such as Global Development in Africa.
It is for this reason that SwissPeaks have and continue to commit significant time to using LinkedIn for we see it as an important part of our expansion as a company.