A/E/C Social Media wk 5

The Value of LinkedIn for Architectural Firms
By Kelly Steckel

LinkedIn is similar to Facebook but designed for the purpose of building professional relationships. As of August 2011, it is the largest global professional network with over 120 million users in over 200 countries. It has members from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies, and its corporate hiring solutions are utilised by 75 out of Fortune 100 companies. More than 200 million companies currently have company pages on the site (www.LinkedIn.com).

What does this mean for architectural firms? Just like any other company, an architectural firm benefits from an increase in visibility, reputation and brand recognition. The more connections that are added, the more likely people will see the firm profile when searching. LinkedIn provides a firm the ability to position itself as thought leaders to potential clients and hires. It enables a firm to seek out talent and perform market research by way of polling tactics, etc. Most importantly, it allows a firm the ability to establish professional relationships with existing and potential clients and link those clients back to the firm website, blog site and to other sites profiling the firm and global projects. It also obtains a higher PageRank in Google than other sites, making the firm more accessible to more people.

Called ‘connections,’ users can invite anyone, on or off the site, to become “linked” for the purpose of establishing a network or contact list. Direct connections, second-degree connections and third-degree connection can be established to assist in job finding, creating business opportunities, sourcing talent, etc. Users can follow different companies, establish relationships with employees of those companies and receive notifications about open positions within that industry. They can save job listings they have applied for and receive alerts about new job postings and new members joining the organisation (www.LinkedIn.com). Firms hiring can list jobs or search potential candidates. What is unique to LinkedIn is that in order to create a connection, one must have a pre-existing relationship to the person they are wishing to contact, or be invited. This helps to maintain professionalism on the site.

Because it is a professional association it also provides a firm the ability to gauge the market, individual market segments in addition to the people in them, although if interested in other geographical segments, is would be beneficial to also establishing profiles on sites more dominate than LinkedIn in other regions, such as Xing, more predominately used in Europe than LinkedIn. During a short search, it appears that only a few international firms have a profile on Xing despite having employees that work for them there. If looking forward architectural firms in the U.S., you get nothing but a two universities and one reality group. If wanting to establish market presence, wouldn’t it be beneficial to create a profile on Europe’s largest professional site?

There are several international sites to choose from, but the value translates depending on how the platform is used, the content, the updates and the analytic tools applied. As with Facebook, it is about how you are communicating with your audience. This audience is interested in knowing you on a professional level, your employees and perhaps how they would fit into your organization. If you have a profile and it’s weak, your company looks weak. Make sure that for anyone spending time connecting to your company, or your employees, comes away with a positive understanding of who you are and where you are going.

LinkedIn has grown into the largest networking site. Why couldn’t it help your firm grow as well?