As I ran down the list, 7 of the 35 people I interacted with that night did not have LinkedIn profiles. All 7 are heavily engaged in some way with customers, existing and potential, so I'm puzzled at their absence on LinkedIn. Among other utilities, a free LinkedIn account bottom-line is free marketing for your organization, plain and simple. Even if you're modest and don't want to draw the LinkedIn attention to yourself, my LinkedIn profile until this year served as both an adjunct to my organization's website as well as my own personal website. In several roles I've had throughout my career as Chief Recruiting Officer (and consequently, one of the organization's key sales leaders), the organization's brand is also linked positively to my personal brand. It's a win-win all around.
Now, as a new beta user of LinkedIn over 7 years ago (when, like Google+, it was invitation-only), did I cringe a bit as LinkedIn sucked up all of my Outlook contacts? Yes. Has it ever created a privacy issue? No, especially since you can lock down part or all of your LinkedIn profile if you choose to do so. Not to make the LinkedIn luddites even more paranoid; but if you don't lock down your LinkedIn profile privacy, news organizations have gotten into the habit of hyperlinking the name of people they mention and/or quote in articles to their LinkedIn profiles. So if you plan on or have engaged in felonious activity, let the LinkedIn buyer beware.
Being a free and then a business member of LinkedIn has been all upside. I've sourced great candidates, made strong connections and even attracted new business prospects for both me and my network thanks to LinkedIn. The ongoing evolution of LinkedIn functionality over the years has only enhanced the platform as a key business tool for me. Now, if you're reading this post from LinkedIn, I know I'm preaching to the choir. But if you were at that event last week with me and you know one of the 7 people currently not on LinkedIn, wouldn't you agree that:
- It's a great name-sourcer, whether you're in Sales, Marketing or Recruiting;
- For Recruiters and HR folks: it gives you a running start on reference checks;
- It's so much better than just plain Outlook contacts, that many CRM platforms now integrate with LinkedIn;
- The "Open to" choices on the bottom of your respective profiles allow you to customize your audience on LinkedIn, e.g. that if you're not open to Career Opportunities, you simply uncheck the box;
- How nimble the update tools are for LinkedIn profiles (and, BTW, you can turn the functionality off so every time you update something on your LinkedIn profile, it doesn't appear on your news feed);
- If you're meeting someone in person for the first time, you know what they look like thanks to their LinkedIn profile;
- If you've met someone at an event and forgotten what they look like, their LinkedIn photo will thankfully remind you;
- If you care about one of those 7 folks' success, you'll invite them to join LinkedIn today and show them how to get their LinkedIn success path started.