Most people think of LinkedIn as a business-related social networking site to keep track of business contacts and present own skills and professional experience to the world. But using LinkedIn to managecustomer relations is still a hidden gem. With a critical mass of more than 120 million users in 200 countries, LinkedIn offers a vast opportunity to capitalize on a company’s unique business DNA — its relationship capital.
Innovisor, a European frontrunner consultancy specialized in organizational network analysis, is among the companies that have taken the use of LinkedIn to a new level. Innovisor has developed a simple yet effective method called Swarm the Target, which outlines staff relations on LinkedIn, thus using the insight to collectively target new customers and influence the business strategy.
“In most companies LinkedIn is a overlooked tool to reveal the implicit knowledge of a company’s collective relationships. Social networks can be used strategically to create competitive advantages and it is a very unique approach that can’t be copied by our competitors because it origins from the employees´ personal relations,” says founding partner Jeppe Vilstrup Hansgaard from Innovisor.
Swarming the Target
The terminology Swarm the Target origins from the swarm behavior, exhibited by animals that aggregate together. In short swarming is about moving in the same direction, remaining close together and avoiding collisions within a group. It is similar to the everyday sales practices of any organization. Swarm the Target offers a precise x-ray image of a company’s current relations, which falls in three categories:
1. Information Providers – provide critical knowledge and insight into the customer organization’s focus and business areas.
2. Influencers – have strong influence within the customer organization and often influence critical decisions.
3. Decision Makers – are senior executives calling the shots with a decisive role to play in the strategic direction of a company.
Once the process of categorizing relations is done, a company can intelligently target activities to those potential customers where the staff has strong ties. At the same time it becomes visible who needs to be involved in the process depending on who has the right connections.
“The method can orchestrate the dialogue and plan for interaction with customers. This makes a company more agile and able to act on the right contacts and business opportunities. It also gives employees a real say in how the overall strategy is executed, which ultimately impacts the level of commitment and job satisfaction in an organization,” Jeppe Vilstrup Hansgaard explains.
Every Relation Counts
Swarm the Target illustrates how managers can supportbusinesses processes and staff in making better decisions by engaging the customer in a collaborative conversation. But managerially it also challenges the way many organizations operate, because people’s organizational level doesn’t necessarily reflect the true value of their network. A receptionist’s network can suddenly be as valuable as the one of a senior executive, if that person can provide information that enable a company to intelligently engage a potential new customer.
“Any industry and company can make use of methodology, but I especially predict that knowledge intensive companies are the ones who stand to benefit the most from integrating a more strategic use of social networks in their sales operations,” says Jeppe Vilstrup Hansgaard.
In order to use Swarm the Target as a business asset it goes without saying that employees must be active on LinkedIn and encouraged to spend time to keep their contacts updated. In the long run Jeppe Vilstrup Hansgaard predicts it will be a win-win situation for both the company and the employees, but it requires that managers acknowledge that time spent on social networks is adding value to the business.
Facts About LinkedIn
· LinkedIn officially launched on May 5, 2003. It has more than 120 million users worldwide in 200 countries.
· In March 2011 CEO Jeff Weiner, announced that LinkedIn is growing by one million new members each week meaning that more than one new user signs up every second.
· LinkedIn is based on a business model with revenues coming from user subscriptions, advertising sales and hiring solutions. It is free to create a profile on the site but since 2005 companies have been able to acquire additional information on potential candidates for a job.
· After a successful stock market debut on the New York Stock Exchange on May 19th 2011 the company’s shares increased by almost 110 per cent on the first official trading day.
Facts About Innovisor
Innovisor is a consulting company operating at the tactical level in multinational companies in Europe. The company is specialized in organizational network analysis, providing fact-based insight into the informal organization to improve performance. Based on data Innovisor facilitate change, evaluate mergers and acquisitions and create innovative and competitive organizations.
In the spring of 2011 Innovisor was honored with a prestigious prize given to Denmark’s most innovative and ambitious knowledge company by the Danish Chamber of Commerce. More information is available here: www.innovisor.com.
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In my opinion, the most powerful social media profile you can use is the LinkedIn profile.
Most powerful that is, if you are looking to do more business and/or achieve your professional goals.
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