By now everyone has heard about LinkedIn’s spectacular IPO this week, quite possibly the most significant public offering by a Web business since Google. Other Internet companies such as Groupon and Facebook are almost certain to follow suit in even grander fashion, but what makes the love for LinkedIn so striking is what it reveals about the future of working on the Web.
Whether it's a business owner, an entrepreneur in the making, a job seeker or a lifetime freelancer, all would do well to pay attention to how LinkedIn is changing the landscape for professionals on the Web. Google changed the way we treat information, Facebook is changing the way we treat each other and Groupon strives to change the way we treat commerce. LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, is changing the way we treat our businesses, our jobs and our livelihoods.
To take part in this shift rather than looking in from the outside, companies and professionals alike must do the following:
If LinkedIn’s blockbuster IPO taught us anything, it is that social media is not just for socializing but also for leveraging your business or your own personal position in the professional workplace. In today’s online world, the absence of a LinkedIn profile says as much about your company or your career as would the lack of an email address. Business owners and professionals who have thus far recoiled from establishing a presence on social networks must change their attitudes, because not only are they alienating potential clients and customers, but they are also missing out on the best prospective talent in the workforce. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts are the tip of the iceberg, too. Smart proprietors and Web workers will also take part in discussions on or simply visit sites such as Quora, Elance and Odesk to better gauge the current state of the employment market in their niche. Additional social tools like Yammer, Socialcast and present.ly are also helping forward-thinking businesses immensely by enhancing internal employee communications and best practices.
The only thing more damning for a Web business today than the complete lack of a social presence is trying to work with an outdated, archaic set of tools. The same goes for Web professionals looking to join an industry or an individual company. Utilizing the most current technologies available in one’s field lends credibility to both individuals and businesses, and not taking advantage of those resources produces the opposite effect. For a company trying to attract clients, that may include anything from its underlying IT infrastructure to the use of cloud technologies or real-time marketing software to the design and performance of its corporate website. For individuals seeking employment, a good example of modernizing the effort might include utilizing a digital resume instead of a traditional one – which, thanks in part to LinkedIn, is rapidly becoming the accepted method.
Part of the way that LinkedIn has helped to modernize the business world is by contributing to its mobilization. For companies on the Web, that means increased exposure from prospective clients, customers and talent by way of their mobile devices, putting a premium on those companies’ willingness to develop mobile-ready websites and applications. Whether it be utilizing the plethora of mobile apps available to business owners today or ensuring that a corporate website is fully functional for the mobile consumer, companies that neglect the mobile channel are missing vast opportunities. Businesses also have to consider the increasing mobile lifestyle of the workforce and their present and future employees by accepting the fact that freelance, contract and cloud-based employment is an increasingly significant trend.
LinkedIn has helped to connect businesses and professionals across the Web, and the enthusiasm with which the public has embraced its offering signifies the demand for such a network. It also represents a dramatic shift in the way businesses and professionals present themselves on the Web, and it introduces the beginning of the modern era of a highly social and mobile workforce.