LinkedIn now has 200 million registered users. Of those, no one except LinkedIn knows who is truly active. But as a heavy LinkedIn community user myself, I can say with certainty that a good 65 percent are active and of those that aren’t yet, they will be in 2013.
So what is the impact of this milestone for LinkedIn users?
As any social media marketer knows, growth in a social network invariably means more frequent functional enhancements, more opportunities for possible valuable connections, and more ways users can be marketed to by corporations.
Because LinkedIn serves business professionals – including business owners, job-seekers, recruiters, corporate executives, and sales professionals alike – the growth in its members delivers a unique set of challenges and opportunities.
LinkedIn for Recruiters
A well-known place for recruitment, the increase in registered members means more possible candidates and correlated job postings on LinkedIn.
With this type of growth, job-seekers will need to super-size their profiles with strong experience delivery, constant illustration of their knowledge in intended industries, and valuable connections. These candidates will need to follow company profiles regularly and stay up to date with job postings and company moves.
Recruiters will need to invest more time and effort than ever in delivering a professional, strong, and engaging presence on LinkedIn. For headhunters, this means ensuring well designed and developed company profiles and employee pages.
Executives supporting these staffing companies will require strong personal brand delivery on LinkedIn. Sales employees of the same must have visible profiles and daily job updates to engage and attract employer clientele.
LinkedIn for Sales Professionals & Entrepreneurs
The new LinkedIn member count equals, of course, more business people to network with, but, conversely more people to compete with as well. This means that this type of LinkedIn user will need to spend time and effort to ensure an “All-Star” profile which is current, engaging, and illustrative of achievements.
Because of the transparency of user profiles, all recommendations and endorsements (although not as credible) will need to come from quality sources. LinkedIn search engine visibility is now crucial for a user's profile, so the profile must be developed in such a way to support an individual’s business and brand-driving keywords.
LinkedIn for Businesses Professionals
Proactive, daily engagement is now a must for any business professional serious about using LinkedIn as a sales and marketing tool. Engaging with connections, growing a valuable network, answering questions that deliver credibility, sharing and commenting on valuable news stories and relevant groups participation are all now crucial activities for salespeople in an effort to become known in the LinkedIn ecosystem.
Also, let’s not forget about leveraging LinkedIn for creating and sustaining business relationships in the real world. Sales professionals at all levels will need to take the LinkedIn conversation to targeted e-mail communications, coffee meetings, and local networking events to have any chance at “closing the deal.”
Linkedin for Pure Marketing Professionals,
These folks make up a large share of LinkedIn professionals. They will need to step up their personal profile as well, like the sales pros, but take it a step further and possibly engage in targeted advertising.
A marketing professional can truly make a dent by making an alignment with marketing groups within the LinkedIn Group universe. Because marketing and branding professionals are seen as more of thought-leaders, these business professionals will need to spend good time finding and answering questions that work within their knowledge-base and update their statuses with Twitter and blog post links to original content that serves their target.
LinkedIn for All Users
Beyond what the individual LinkedIn user types need to be aware of and take action as prescribed above, all members need to be mindful of the functional and design changes happening on LinkedIn. The rapid member growth means that the internal team will need to ramp up to support expansion.
Millions of members are still being migrated to the newly designed user profiles. Of the ones that have been migrated, millions are still awaiting app recovery of multi-media support such as Slideshare and WordPress blog content.
Further, with the newest company profile design, millions of those company pages are still in need of LinkedIn customer support to publish updated graphics.
Finally, member growth has given rise to, as you may expect, more choices of paid subscriptions and varied lead generation and advertising opportunities for the LinkedIn marketer. It is wise for any LinkedIn user to become familiar with the new premium plans and rate structures.
Overall, LinkedIn users will need to utilize LinkedIn customer support, look to other peer users to assistance, and be patient.
LinkedIn as a B2B social network isn't slowing down any time soon. The 200 million mark may soon become, 300 million, 400 million and so on – and probably quicker than we all think due to factors such as a changing economy, a vast remote workforce, the rise in entrepreneurship, and the opportunities for recruiters and job-seekers alike to use LinkedIn as their only hiring platform.
To make sure you can play and win on LinkedIn follow the advice I have provided in this article and keep your ear to the ground in the LinkedIn universe.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!