This month I break from my usual blog topics of ‘events’ and ‘experiences’ from my past, in South Africa. As a keynote speaker and trainer on How to Use LinkedIn for Business Growth I thought I’d de-mystify one of the key uses of LinkedIn. I’m starting to see quite a rise in LinkedIn membership from South Africa, now standing at 2 million members, and many of my old colleagues are in touch with me looking for clarity on whether it matters. I thought I’d share with you, my answers to them. I hope it helps you.
As you’ll all be aware, LinkedIn has emerged as the world’s largest business to business social networking platform. I often refer to it as the place where you manage your professional reputation, online. Despite membership soaring passed 225 million, many member profiles and company pages are dormant. This means that these profiles were usually set up perfunctorily, just because people felt they had to be there, and are then left to gather dust.
If you have ever checked-up on someone via LinkedIn before you’ve met them, or even whilst you are on a call with them, you can be assured others are doing the same to you. Among other things, LinkedIn has become the place where you do due-diligence on others; and where they go to do the same on you! So whether you engage on LinkedIn regularly or rarely, everything starts with your profile. Even if it is going to be left largely untouched, or un-visited by you, after you’ve published it, let it be a clear and compelling reflection of who you are, what you offer and what differentiates you from your competition.
All of us make judgments about other people within the first few seconds of meeting them. How they look, everything they say and do, how they act and how they react at the first point of contact, affects how we perceive them and forms our opinion of them. We make a judgement early on, and it is the first impression that creates the initial tone and hardens our opinion of others, during the relationship-building process.
Others are looking for anything to distinguish you from the pack, and increasingly people give weight and significance to the quality of your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn profiles have become an influential part of the modern business world and convey markers about another’s professionalism, experience, competence and stability. In my experience, profiles are often incomplete, contain inadequate editorial copy that fails to differentiate individuals’ unique value proposition and are poorly optimized.
If this resonates with you, it’s ok, you’re in good company!
The questions to consider are:
1. ‘How professional do you look to others who find your profile?’
2. ‘Are you taking full advantage of the opportunities your LinkedIn profile presents?’
But does it matter? If so, then why?
Despite chatting with LinkedIn customer support, the only reliable numbers on LinkedIn membership in Africa shows 2 million members in South Africa. With a population of 50,068,625 people this may seem insignificant, at around 4%. However if the recent article by Paul Joubert, Solidarity senior economics researcher, entitled ‘How many tax payers are there [in South Africa] really? posted on Moneyweb on 24 February 2013 is accurate, this LinkedIn membership figure represents a staggering 87% of South Africa’s taxpaying population!
With only 2,3 million people who were responsible for around 93% of all income tax collected in South Africa in 2011, it follows, then, that the very demographic that you probably want to engage with, and wish to be found by, has a profile on LinkedIn.
The question is: how strong is yours?
In answer to the question: Does LinkedIn matter for Africa? …my view is a resounding Yes!
More and more products and services are sought out and procured online. For those of us in the advisory, as opposed to transactional sector, LinkedIn has become the dominant portal to raise visibility and share experience and expertise.
Wherever you live in Africa, perhaps now is the time to revisit your own presence on LinkedIn; and to make it count.
Take this FREE test and asses if your LinkedIn profile is doing you justice. Is your profile The Perfect 10? To find out CLICK HERE
If you have found this insight into LinkedIn valuable, please share it. So many people are still unsure of how to move forward, but the more people that ‘get‘ LinkedIn, the better experience we will all enjoy when we seek out advice, products and services and when we network there, in the groups.
One thing is for sure. Whether you like social networking or are still wary of it… LinkedIn is here to stay!