4 Ways to Leverage LinkedIn as a Market Intelligence Tool

LinkedIn business intelligence for job searchOne of the reasons I’m a fan of leveraging LinkedIn during an active or passive career search is its power as a market intelligence tool. I suppose you could argue that LinkedIn wasn’t created for that purpose, but it is nonetheless capable of delivering an array of rich insights for job seekers.

Why does this matter? Stop and think about how many LinkedIn invites or messages you receive or send in a single week. How many of those stand out or are memorable in any way? If the purpose of networking is to arm you with more information or catalyze action on behalf of your candidacy, then doesn’t it make good sense to base your networking on deeper insights.

What kinds of insights? How about information about key influencers, target companies, target recruiters, and your own network that can help you to network more specifically? I’ll be delving into greater how-to detail on these ideas in my upcoming free webinar, Supercharge Your LinkedIn Presence & Recession-Proof Your Career, on June 16, 2014, but in the meantime here are 4 ways extract greater background information to use as networking superfuel.

If you’re in sales or marketing, you’ll recognize this as the concept of customer segmentation. By segmenting your market (combining apples with apples and oranges with oranges, as it were), you can tailor your marketing and sales approach to their specific needs. As a job seeker, that’s an inherently smart thing to do, especially in a crowded marketplace overwhelmed by “me, me, me” messages.

If you want your candidacy to stand out more, then you need to make your marketing stand out more. By utilizing these data-mining suggestions you can tighten the alignment between your marketing and the needs of your target market.

  1. Before you network with anyone you don’t already know well online or offline, search for them on LinkedIn and examine their LinkedIn profile, Groups, and status updates for evidence of their personality, interests, background, and perspectives. Look for things you have in common with them and use that information in your outreach to them. Employ the insights you extract to personalize and customize your networking approach.
  2. Sift through the company profiles of your targeted organizations and identify key issues they face, skills they are likely to need, or challenges they face. If you combine these insights with just a few minutes of research into recent company news, you should be able to compare the organization’s talent needs with your brand and experience. Next, weave content, links, and supplemental documents into your profile that demonstrate the match between this company’s needs and what you bring to the table. Narrow your company targets and select those facing similar challenges so your profile will still appear to make sense even though you have aligned with multiple targets.
  3. I hope you’re hearing this message everywhere you go online job search-wise: Develop thought leadership. Stand out from the crowd of job seekers in your same profession by showing, not telling, how you’re candidacy, brand, and UVP (Unique Value Proposition) are different than those of your peers. Employ status updates, blogs, articles, white papers, and presentations to communicate this insight to your network and your profile visitors. If you’ve done your insight-gathering homework and use that data to shape your thought leadership contributions on LinkedIn, your search will far outpace your peers in terms of results and time-to-completion. I suggest all job seekers in overt, public searches do status updates at least 1-2 times weekly. If you’re in a passive search you can tone down your updates and do them a little less frequently. If you’re in a covert search, tone them down even further but don’t stop doing them altogether. Thought leadership is one of THE most powerful ways to recession-proof your career or your business for decades to come.
  4. Remember to segment your LinkedIn network as you seek specific information from network connections or try to build relationships with recruiters or hiring executives. Although LinkedIn isn’t a true CRM tool and hence lacks some of the sophisticated features software like Salesforce offers, you can still do enough segmentation to make a difference. Need to quickly target people in a particular industry or company? LinkedIn can do that. Need to target folks in particular professions or levels of jobs? LinkedIn can do that. Need to identify potential new contacts in specific geographic areas? LinkedIn can do that.  Keep in mind, though, that the results you can tweak out of LinkedIn are always based on the size of your network – the larger your network, the more search results you will receive.

Sadly, LinkedIn used to offer many more ways to access business intelligence data on prospective employers in particular, but they have removed those functions. However, enough information remains in profiles and advanced search results for you to do more than enough targeted marketing in your job search.