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Barry MacQuarrie
Social Networking and Our Need to Belong

How your firm can create a community on LinkedIn and build a community of followers.

April 8, 2010
by Barry MacQuarrie, CPA

It’s opening day. The Red Sox and Yankees are playing at Fenway Park.

Batting practice is over, the infield has been raked and the starting lineups have been announced. It is time to play ball! The Red Sox take the field, but there is no applause. Fenway Park is empty. Not a single fan has shown up for opening day!

If this happened, would it make the front page of the Boston Globe? Would it make the national evening news broadcast?

Don’t worry, it will never happen! The Red Sox and Yankees fan bases are among the largest in all of professional sports. The teams are so popular that people are willing to spend money to be card-carrying members of Red Sox Nation and Yankees Universe.

These fan clubs are classic examples of our deep need to belong. We join fraternities, sororities, political action committees, professional associations and maybe even a bowling league to satisfy our need to belong.

I believe that this need to belong is a fundamental reason behind the enormous popularity of social networking today. We use social networking sites to connect to people, to satisfy our need to belong and our desire to feel accepted.

Could your company build a community to which people would want to belong? Could this community help to attract new business and increase revenue? Social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook can help a company or organization establish communities of customers, employees, vendors, referral sources and fans.

This article will examine one of the methods available to your company. We will look at how you can use the Company Profiles feature in LinkedIn to build a community for your company.

LinkedIn Company Profiles

LinkedIn added Company Profiles to their service a few years ago. The feature allows you to add a profile page for your company that can include the following information:

  • Company name
  • E-mail domain name
  • Company description
  • Specialties
  • Web site URL
  • Industry
  • Number of employees
  • Locations
  • Financial information
  • A link to your company blog

It is very simple to add your company’s profile. Simply click the More button and select Companies from the drop down list. You can use the Add a Company link on the Companies Home page to add your company’s profile. Once you add your company’s profile, your employees can link to it when they add information about their work experience.

Each company’s profile page may include a list of current employees, former employees, recent promotions and popular profiles. LinkedIn also uses information from your employee’s profiles to gather statistics about the company that includes top locations, common job titles, top schools, median age and gender.

A company’s LinkedIn profile page will also display information about related companies, current job openings and the career paths of current and former employees. LinkedIn, in partnership with Business Week, will display the following information on a company’s profile page:

  • News
  • Stock Information
  • Industry
  • Type of Entity
  • Company Size
  • Revenue
  • Date Founded

Searching Company Profiles

LinkedIn’s Companies module is a very powerful tool that will help you gather information about a company or organization. Simply select Companies from the search drop-down list, type in the name of the company you want to find and click on the magnifying glass. LinkedIn will show you a list of company names, their location and the number of employees. The list will also include a 1st or 2nd symbol next to certain companies. This tells you that you are connected, via LinkedIn, to someone at the company. Simply click a company name to display their company profile page.

The information that is available on LinkedIn’s Companies module comes from a variety of sources. LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networking sites for business professionals and has millions of individual profile pages. LinkedIn mines this information and displays results on company profile pages. This makes some of the information presented on a company’s profile pages unique to LinkedIn. It can be helpful to you when researching a prospective client, competitors or vendors.

Getting Started

So, login to LinkedIn and open the Company’s module to learn more about your company and the communities that surround it. Check out the information about your company and make sure that your profile is linked to it. If necessary, consider updating the information to provide a positive view of your company to potential customers and employees. Your company’s current and former employees tell a story about your company that will hopefully encourage others to want to belong.

Hopefully, this article has provided you with information about how you can use LinkedIn to build one type of community for your business. Upcoming columns will focus on using LinkedIn Groups to continue building communities for your company.
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Barry MacQuarrie, CPA, is the director of technology at KAF Financial Group. MacQuarrie has extensive experience working with CPA firm technologies. He also has expertise in workflow, process improvement, disaster recovery planning, security and paperless office technologies.