Linked In: Why Companies Can’t Say No!

Special Guest Writer: Ira Wolfe, President of Success Performance Solutions

If you're in business, it is almost a certainty that you've been invited to connect with someone on LinkedIN. Unfortunately, many people are still confused about what LinkedIn is and how it can help them or their business. Unfortunately in this day and age ignorance is not bliss and avoidance can be harmful to your business.

First and foremost, LinkedIn has become one of the most popular places to source and recruit candidates. In fact, many companies use LinkedIn as their primary source of candidates especially professional positions (engineers, accountants), managers, and salespeople. Many studies report that a majority of new hires are passive (not actively looking to switch jobs) and LinkedIN is a major source of passive candidates. It takes some work (or a hired hand to do the research) but LinkedIn is an excellent resource for finding top talent.

Things have changed

In the good old days of 1990 and the early 2000s, businesses had a choice where they advertised their business and recruited employees. If they didn't want an ad in the local newspaper or Yellow Pages, they just said no. But then online networking sites (like Facebook and LinkedIN) as well as business review sites like Yelp and Glassdorr came along and ... well, the world changed.

(By the way, if you own a B2B business - manufacturing, distribution, etc. - and don't think you are susceptible to review, think again. Let's say I'm a business looking for a supplier. The first thing I do is go to LinkedIN and search for a supplier. The next thing I do is message one of my connections who might be connected to a customer or an employee - former or current. If your business isn't on LinkedIN, you might miss out entirely or the only contact I have might have been the one with the bad experience.)

How does all this work? Anytime a current or former employee joins LinkedIN and lists your business on their personal profile, LinkedIN links their name to your business. If your company doesn't have a company profile, the employee might take a few minutes and fill in the blanks on your behalf. Sometimes that can be accomplished in your best interest. Other times, especially for ex-workers, it is a really good time to turn your company profile into a personal sounding board.

What's the danger of that? Many vendors, suppliers, and job candidates use LinkedIn to research companies before they buy, sell, or job hunt. Is your business represented professionally? Does your message communicate the brand you want to project? If you don't have a LinkedIN account, you will have no way of knowing until it is possibly too late.

Another danger of avoiding LinkedIN is that job candidates do tell little white lies on resumes. But sometimes, they might be bold and loud and scream Liar, Liar at your expense. For example, I recently was showing a client how to use LinkedIn. I pulled up his company profile and at the top of his list was his VP of Sales. Unfortunately he never heard of this person. A candidate on LinkedIN had created a work history at his company and posted it on his resume to fill the job lapse on his resume. Again - if you are not using LinkedIN and monitoring your company profile, your business could be misrepresented.

So ... Where do you start?

  1. If not the CEO, President, or owner, a member of senior management must be connected on LinkedIn.
  2. Create your company profile with the message you want the rest of the world to see. Company profiles are like free websites. If you don't have one, you're missing an opportunity. If you have one but don't optimize it, it's wasted opportunity.
  3. Monitor your company profile. Make sure employees and former employees who link to your company have actual history with you. (FYI - You can't prohibit former employees from including you as a former employer.)

Social media has turned marketing inside out. Just saying no does not remove your participation. If you're not doing the talking, then someone else is. And if you're not listening, the silence may not be golden.

Ira Wolfe is president of Success Performance Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in employee screening and selection. Ira is considered one of his industry's thought leaders on pre-employment testing, workforce trends, and multi-generation workplaces.