I found myself several years ago looking for a new opportunity in my business life. I had changed careers once before, but this time I didn’t want to make that kind of change. Instead, I wanted to find something better in the industry in which I was currently working.
As with so many other industries nowadays, I knew mine was poised for a technological revolution.
At the time, the term “social media” was just forming on the lips of those in the dot-com industry. Facebook was battling MySpace for leadership in the personal information arena, and other Internet-savvy companies were just beginning to develop networks of people involved in collecting and exchanging other types of information.
One company, LinkedIn, was quietly establishing a database of professionals that allowed subscribers to compile a list of contacts inside and/or outside their industry with the click of a button. Times certainly were changing.
Observing one of the originals
My first encounter with LinkedIn was with one of its original power users. He taught a class of outplacement recruits about establishing a LinkedIn account. I learned how to post a soft version of my resume online, develop a set of broad-based contacts and literally network my way into a job interview.
There were a number of tips and tricks he provided to get my name listed on the first page of a company’s search for candidates. Some of those are still useful, while others are now obsolete due to sophisticated search engine optimization techniques.
Today, my use of LinkedIn has gone far beyond looking for a new job. It has exploded to where I am now connected with thousands of people inside and outside my own industry that have common business interests.
Nurturing and extending
I have also become a hub of introductions and contacts for others, as well as myself, by nurturing and extending my professional persona via LinkedIn.
The usefulness of LinkedIn, especially for a C-suite officer, doesn’t just mean “friending” other C-suite executives. LinkedIn cuts across most company functions when it comes to people, organizations and groups of individuals with a common interest.
I use LinkedIn every time I come across a new company or name of an individual. A company’s website is often the first link I tap to peruse and gather information, but a company’s LinkedIn site seems to connect me deeper into the organization.
The company’s LinkedIn site gives me access to people who don’t appear on the company’s home page. Within this space, I can look for contacts with interesting backgrounds and experiences aligned to my own company’s interests or requirements.
Productivity tools abound
Many social media tools, like LinkedIn, are productivity tools for the C-suite executive. I get information and insight from the many user groups I have joined.
I participate in discussions regarding technology trends and channel opportunities. I learn about customer behavior, sometimes even competitor behavior. There are also comments and information I glean on potential new markets and future M&A business partners — everything pertinent to tier one interests of a senior executive.
If I am interested in finding a good person to fill an open job position, an outside recruiter or my HR department can always find a slate of qualified candidates. LinkedIn, however, serves as a handy tool for helping me peel back a few layers from each resume. I often get what I refer to as a 3-D view of the person behind the text of a CV.
In my humble opinion (IMHO), within the social media frenzy that now exists in cyberspace, the head of the class for business networking is LinkedIn.
Tom Salpietra is president and COO of EYE Lighting International, a manufacturer of lighting equipment. His company was awardeda the 2011 Evolution in Manufacturing Award. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.