LinkedIn and a digital mindset

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For the C-Suite, LinkedIn is an essential resource.

The world’s largest professional online network, I like to think of it as the “global business brain” where you can find out just about anything and connect with just about anyone who matters to your professional development or for your business’ growth.

It’s a great way to position yourself as an expert in your field and your company as a great one to do business with or work for. If your own LinkedIn profile is incomplete and inactive, what kind of message will that send out to potential business partners and employees?

OK, so you know you should be making more of LinkedIn. If you’re a novice, where do you start? Why not work through this check-list first:

  • Make sure your profile is complete — aim for an “All Star” profile
  • Follow everyone who is relevant to your business
  • Be active and visible by posting regular updates, contributing to groups and blogging.
  • If you can afford it, upgrade to a Premium account, which offers many more useful networking and business development features
  • Log in every day (at breakfast, before you leave the office or before bed) and spend 10 to 15 minutes on the platform. Soon it will become a habit, and your network — and influence — will grow

Now what? That’s just the start!

While it’s obviously important to be on LinkedIn and to use it properly, it’s even more important to understand what LinkedIn — and social media in general — represents and why it’s such a game-changer.

Depending on your attitude toward social media, this may require some mental readjustment and a new mindset that sees social media not as a threat or a challenge but, rather, an incredible opportunity.

For those who began their business careers before the onset of the digital revolution, this adjustment isn’t always easy. There is often a natural resistance, which comes down to a lack of understanding of how new social technologies enable and enhance traditional business goals.

This quote from a recent article by Walter Adamson illustrates this point very well:

Playing the old games of acquisitions, mergers and token collaboration is going to sink some big ships in some big industries. The C-Suite understands the industry dynamics. To understand social technologies they have to experience them, there is no other way. The motivation for C-suite ‘social media’ training should be to understand how to reshape those industry dynamics.

So, by all means, get to grips with LinkedIn, do the training and optimize your profile. But also understand what LinkedIn (and other social networks) represent for the future of business.

Social media is turning old hierarchies on their heads, undermining perceived wisdom and allowing young startup companies to undermine more traditional industries.

Company leaders have a duty to their employees, their suppliers, their shareholders and themselves to understand this revolution. It’s far better to meet it head-on with eyes wide open, rather than with outdated views from a previous century.

As Walter Adamson goes on to say, “Directors who don’t understand social media are placing their company at risk of not capitalizing on the business opportunities, as well as exposing it to unnecessary risk.”

Are you ignoring the enormous value of LinkedIn and other social networks? If you are, then I dare you to cross the “digital divide.” If you do, you’ll see things in a completely different light and envisage new strategic opportunities that weren’t obvious before.