Profiles, lists, pages, badges, mayors. The feature-set of social networks continues to evolve, and it is no surprise that the front-runner continues to be Facebook. Let’s not forget that the once ominous Myspace held the coveted best-known-methods of 2006. What we can learn from this is that even though Facebook is in front in 2010 with features and updates, they are also pushing the pace of updates amongst their competitors. Though LinkedIn might not be a direct competitor to Facebook, the hopes that it will have a sustainable offering amidst the giant implies that LinkedIn must adapt and adopt.
What’s New with LinkedIn? Looking to adopt the vernacular that Twitter lists and Facebook communities/pages has set forth, LinkedIn has pushed out a Company Follow feature where followers can customize the rate, method and type of information they automatically receive about the companies they want to keep track of. This is a great way to keep track of trends in personnel at an organization such as a hiring/firing, as well as understand what kind of interaction a company is having on LinkedIn-connected networks.
What can you do with this feature?
At the very least keep your network open and relevant—go ahead and follow the organizations that are within your immediate ecosystem and those that are of broader interest as well. On a local level take the time to follow partnered companies, clients, and even competitors; unlike Twitter and Facebook, it is a little harder to figure out who you are following. As a follower, you are only visible when clicking on a company, and then selecting ‘followers’. With that said you shouldn’t be shy as to who you are following—think of it as a Google Alert for networking.
As a potential hiring manager or customer this becomes an invaluable tool because you can see who might have just left an organization. Likewise for companies you are in close ties with, understanding if they are pushing out updates that are of a positive impact will help you understand how healthy your potential business partners are. Have they let go of an entire team recently? Or, are there a slew of new hires or new recommendations that might interest you?
Additional Considerations Take the time to understand that your business is that much more transparent now. Understand who your ‘followers’ list is composed of and how the impact of positive or negative information will effect your professional relationship with those individuals. If you are approaching a lay-off season, understand that looking at that list before hand will enable you to be pro-active about addressing a situation before the bad-press hits. Likewise if you are hiring or getting praise that will be seen by followers, use it as an opportunity to reconnect with that list. Likewise understand that not everyone will take advantage of the list, and be pro-active about keeping them in the loop.
Lastly, invite people to follow your company on LinkedIn. Insert it in an email blast at the very least.