I recently went to a job interview where I got asked by my potential employer whether I had a LinkedIn profile or not. The answer I gave was neither a clear “yes” nor a certain “no”. Truth being that I have an account, but I can’t remember the last time I logged into it. Fortunately for me, I survived the interview and the ambiguity about me being on LinkedIn or not did not disqualify me for the job. But here is the 1 million Rands question everyone should (already) have had an answer to: Is being on LinkedIn an imperative or not?
For those not (yet) acquainted to it, LinkedIn is a business-focused social networking tool that allows you to build a professional version of yourself online. It is the world’s largest professional media with 380 million of users recorded on 30/07/15. In South Africa, data from the SA Social Media Landscape 2015 study, reveals that there are now 3.8 million LinkedIn users in the country. Clearly, LinkedIn is widely used as a social media tool. Though the site reaches the 380 millions users, people are not flocking to it like they are to Facebook or twitter.
So, do you think there is a need for a LinkedIn account?
WHY YOU SHOULD BE ON LINKEDIN
As already stated above, LinkedIn records a remarkable 380 million users in 220 countries around the world. For the most part, LinkedIn members are technology-savvy business professionals and the majority of the business workforce, spending at least 2 hours per week connecting to their LinkedIn account through their computers or mobile phones. Surely, all of these people – at least the vast majority of them – are firmly convinced of the immediate advantages of being on LinkedIn.
Key findings from The 2014 edition of Breitbarth’s annual LinkedIn overview reveals that LinkedIn members primarily use it for industry and co-worker networking, to keep in touch with other people, promoting their business and job searches.
Let’s have a look at what seems to be the three main reasons why professionals are on LinkedIn : building a network, job searches and promoting their business.
#1 Building a Professional / Business network
With a LinkedIn account (a paid one, preferably), you could research for past friends/acquaintances from school or people you have encountered in your professional life. Findings from the Breithbarth‘s study show that for 74.1% of professionals surveyed, LinkedIn has helped them search for people and companies and 72.8% of them have been able to reconnect with past colleagues and business associates. Reconnecting with past acquaintances could lead to new business and professional opportunities. And who knows, perhaps your past friend Nicolas from primary school – who always shared his lunch with you – has become the HR manager for the company you always dreamed of working for.
#2 Helping you find employment
Anyone would agree –for sure – that job searching is far from being the most fun activity in the world. Going through heavy interviews and having to craft the perfect cover letter – especially if it is your first time job searching – is simply a pain. Well, creating a LinkedIn profile could make the process easier.
Figures from a 2 years old Bulhorn (a Boston Group Company that makes technology products for employers and recruiters) survey conducted among hiring professionals showed that the majority of them (97.3% of 1,848 professionals) used LinkedIn to search for candidates and 85% of them looked at applicants LinkedIn profiles. The No 1 professional social network in the world would also be the most popular site for social recruiting. This is to say that having a LinkedIn profile is more than strongly recommended if you are a job seeker.
#3 Powerfully LinkedIn can help you grow your business
Besides offering recruitment and networking opportunities, LinkedIn provides opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners to grow their operations. We already know that 380 millions of people use LinkedIn. More interesting fact is that every two seconds new people sign up to join the network. Imagine what it could be like for your business if you could capitalize on the great LinkedIn’s marketing potential. You could convert connections into clients. Of course, you would agree with me that sending emails trying to promote your products or services when you connect with someone is the worst thing to do. Instead, trying to establish a decent relationship with someone at first would be a better alternative. And if you know what to do next, these connections could turn into clients.
WHY YOU SHOULD NOT BE ON LINKEDIN
Besides having 380 millions of users, a good number of professionals are not (by choice) on LinkedIn. What could be the reasons to it?
#1 LinkedIn does not serve everyone
LinkedIn is not a must-have when it comes to specific categories of job positions. Executive positions are the most promoted and encountered on LinkedIn, especially technology savvy and marketing related jobs. Joining LinkedIn would not be of a great help to a handyman or to a delivery driver.
#2 LinkedIn does not always lead to job offers
A lot of people would tell you that they did not have any LinkedIn profile when they got hired for the position they still occupy. For example, a flight attendant, Louise, has always found new employment opportunities through recommendations from friends and acquaintances. She never felt any need to create a LinkedIn account. Moreover, subscriptions to LinkedIn do not always lead to the promise of job offers. Viveca Von Rosen, author of “LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour A Day,” points out the fact that “There’s a misconception that people can find jobs right away from the jobs board”. Thus, rules for finding a job through LinkedIn seem to be the same as the ones applying to finding a job in the real world : true commitment, a lot of patience and a great amount of luck!
#3 LinkedIn has worrying privacy issues
Privacy issues are sometimes the reason for why some people avoid social network media at their peril. A lot of people have been complaining about the fact that LinkedIn Ltd is not taking the measures it needs to respect the wish of individuals who want to be as private as possible on the Internet. One of the main privacy issues about LinkedIn is that the company reveals the identities of anonymous members in “See Who viewed your profile” emails to its users. It is what happened to Meena, a LinkedIn member who got an email from the social network titled “Brandon XXX and 10 others viewed your profile” and revealing the identity of people who viewed Meena’s LinkedIn profile. So far nothing to worry about. Problem starts when Meena realizes later that four of these people chose to remain anonymous. Why would LinkedIn share their private identities with Meena then?
DOES LINKEDIN MATTER AFTER ALL?
I must admit that LinkedIn is essential for many employers, recruiters, job seekers and users who, for reasons that matter to them cannot afford to stop using LinkedIn. And, when it comes to deciding on joining the network or not (or any other social network for that matter), I believe it all depends on what you choose your purposes to be and how much time you are ready to dedicate to social network tools. Bottom line is, whether you choose to view LinkedIn as a must-have tool or not, the choice to sign up remains yours.