Having your entire workforce use LinkedIn could become your company’s rocket fuel. Yet many employers block company computers from accessing LinkedIn. They’re afraid employees will look for a new job, be poached by a recruiter or waste precious work time socializing online. According to a recent study by Statista, 10% of U.S. employees are not allowed to use LinkedIn in the workplace because access is blocked. These companies are missing out on major opportunities to build business, increase loyalty and fortify employee engagement. Here’s how your company can benefit from a focused program that encourages employees to use LinkedIn … every day.
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1. Increased Visibility for Your Brand.
LinkedIn’s Best Practices Blog states that “Employees are 70% more likely to engage with your company updates.” When your employees “like” and “share” status updates, they make them visible to their contacts. This is living proof that every employee is a brand ambassador. The more views your company page has, the more potential followers. A study by BrightEdge backs this up: “Companies that have a greater proportion of their employees on LinkedIn have more followers on their company pages. In fact, 9 out of the top 10 brands with the most followers on LinkedIn have at least 60% of their employees on LinkedIn.” And when employees comment on your communications, the visibility of that item increases. The more company page followers, the higher your page will rank in LinkedIn search results, sparking greater reach and potential interaction with your content.
When your staff selects your company from the LinkedIn list when creating or updating their Experience, they automatically show up on your company’s LinkedIn page. And your company logo shows up on their page with a link back to your company page. They also become automatic followers of your company.
Your company also benefits when your employees point to your web site in one of the links in their contact info. Their impressive profile becomes another vector to your place on the web and, even better, they create inbound links to your homepage – giving it more Google value. Multiply this times your number of employees and you can quickly see what a tremendous boon LinkedIn is.
If you don’t have your employees on LinkedIn and you aren’t encouraging them to share your content – articles, promotions, videos, press releases – you’re limiting the reach of your communications. Don’t miss out on these effective opportunities to be visible to your target audience.
2. Consistent Brand Ambassadors.
When someone looks at a profile of one of your employees, it not only speaks to their personal brand, but to your company brand as well. If you help your staff build stellar, compelling profiles and show them how to engage and stay connected to their brand community, you’re sending a message about your company brand to everyone who visits their pages or interacts with them. This is valuable to clients, potential customers, business partners and existing and future employees. It supports competitive advantage. Through the collective profiles of your employees, people can see the talent and specific skills of your people.
If you’re in the professional services business, this is even more important. Think of each employee’s LinkedIn page as a product page – because your talent truly is the offering. By showcasing your best assets, you’re saying something about your firm and the quality of your people. Worried about poachers? You shouldn’t be, as long as you’re providing a rewarding workplace experience for these fabulous folks.
A key advantage of social media is that it has made business more human. The more your employees use social media to engage with your brand community, the more connected they become to the company’s identity. Externally, the more human your brand becomes, the easier it is to build emotional connections and trust with clients and shareholders. Customer centricity comes from your people, not your products. If you’re serious about building a trusted organization that has strong emotional bonds with customers (and employees!) it’s time to engage all your people in the process – not just your sales people.
3. Improved Morale.
If you’re preventing your employees from accessing LinkedIn or are discouraging them from having profiles, you’re sending the message that you don’t trust them. And trust is essential for building strong relationships. If your relationship with employees is defined by accusations, you’ll only make them want to leave.
Encouraging your employees to link to each other keeps them connected as well, and your company becomes the basis for the shared bond. LinkedIn also serves as a great informational tool, helping different departments stay on top of what others are doing based on what they share. The new endorsements feature, along with recommendations, can also be helpful. Beyond giving kudos to a colleague during a meeting, endorsing them online for a specific skill makes this acknowledgement visible to a much larger community. Public praise and recognition are powerful rewards for great work. That level of gratitude not only reinforces the bonds among your people but is also a confidence builder.
Here are some of my clients’ best practices for unlocking the power of LinkedIn:
- Start at the top. Your leaders need to set the scene and the standard by creating top-of-the-line profiles.
- Get them when they arrive. New hires will be impressed when you integrate a module on LinkedIn profiles into your onboarding programs.
- Teach them well. Create talent development programs specifically focused on personal branding and LinkedIn. This will give your people the skills they need to build an exceptional profile and use LinkedIn to do their jobs better.
- Make it fun. Use incentives and competitions to encourage individuals and teams.
Fear impedes success; and fear is what’s usually behind a company’s resistance to LinkedIn. If your focus is on attrition, you’ll be ruled by fear, and ironically your worst fears will come true: you will likely lose your best talent. Instead, if you focus on loyalty and engagement, you can maximize LinkedIn to expand your company’s reach exponentially, while building stronger relationships with your people.
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