For many IT pros, LinkedIn has become the de facto tool for professional networking. It's a convenient way to stay connected to current colleagues, people who you've worked with in the past, and peers who work in similar jobs or with the same technologies that you do. This effectively creates an inventory that can be used across various jobs, personal interests, and affiliations. LinkedIn isn't only a tool for individuals, however; organizations have also found ways to use the popular connections site. Here are five ways organizations can benefit from LinkedIn:1. Groups. What better way to keep professional members of the online community informed about products and company information than a group? LinkedIn groups function as a forum for members to have real-world conversations about products, issues, opportunities, events, and referrals of information. For virtually every segment of technology, there is a corresponding group available. One group that I have recently joined for a hot area of technology is the VMware virtualization group. Here, discussions on real-world scenarios offer good information to members on topics ranging from problem-solving to company news and job opportunities. 2. Events. LinkedIn event creation is a newer offering that allows you to create events. LinkedIn Events correspond to real events, such as tradeshows, conferences, and training events. This emerging segment will become a mechanism for events to be accessible to networks of members where professional interests align. Check out this blog post and video by LinkedIn product manager Christina Wodtke on LinkedIn Events. 3. Company profiles. LinkedIn offers company profiles that can be modified by members. Companies are making it a priority to see that these descriptions, information, and company logos are used correctly on LinkedIn. Social media and marketing groups try to ensure not only that the information is accurate but also that it is the kind of information that best promotes the company. While LinkedIn requires a company e-mail address for contributors to be able to edit a company profile, that doesn't necessarily ensure that it is a company-authorized individual making them. 4. Jobs. LinkedIn has job information through partnerships with Dice and SimplyHired. Ensuring that your advertised positions go beyond Monster.com and into LinkedIn is an extra step that can use the leverage of the LinkedIn network. The beauty is that if one person is not interested in the position, the position can be referred to someone who might be a good fit for the role. This extra link can assist in finding the right candidates in a tough hiring market. 5. The price is right. Most of LinkedIn services are free, so why not take advantage of the extra placement? While the risk of not embracing social media for organizations is not quantified, the cost of embracing it is low.
Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.