It has been a few weeks now since LinkedIn released their new “Follow Company” feature. Rather than be brash and predict what would happen with the appearance of this new feature, I always like to look at things with a little historical perspective and try to understand how professionals can truly leverage these new LinkedIn features.
As you are most likely aware of by now, just as you follow someone on Twitter to subscribe to their tweets in your news feed, LinkedIn now allows you to not only get “Company Updates” on your LinkedIn home page but also receive notifications of Company Activity in the convenience of your cozy email inbox. While getting an update on New Hires, Recent Departures, and New Job Opportunities might seem strange for a professional networking site like LinkedIn, it does allow LinkedIn to offer more “value” to its core customers: companies who utilize LinkedIn to recruit employees as well as job seekers in transition.
That being said, the new Follow Company feature, while simple in functionality, offers a lot of value in different ways to the following 6 types of professionals:
1. Job Seekers
- It doesn’t take much imagination to see why job seekers should be all over LinkedIn’s new Follow Company feature: by following companies you can automatically get notified when there are new job openings. This happens through receiving an email notification of your Company Updates as well as the updates appearing on your Home Page.
- Even if there isn’t an opening appropriate for you, if you spot someone leaving the company it may be a good excuse to try to contact the hiring manager to see if a replacement has been found.
- See a target company start to hire for a previously unknown division? There may be hidden jobs for you there.
- See a lot of people leaving the same firm at the same time? That may not be a good sign.
- While some say by just the mere act of following a company that they might notice you, companies do not get notified when they have a new follower. Furthermore, with thousands of people following big companies, you may not stick out. On the other hand, if there was a lesser-known local company with zero or few followers, you may just get noticed…
- While it doesn’t appear on your Profile, if someone in your network starts following a company and you catch sight of it in your Company Updates or in your connection’s “Activity” part of their profile, you may find out about new companies to follow or add to your target list.
- Since you can see the other Followers of the business that you are interested, you can also size up your competition.
As you can see, you can interpret a lot about a company just by looking at these details, which LinkedIn has always made available on the Companies page. With the new Follow Company feature, you can see all of this information in chronological order in the convenient location of the “Activity” tab of each company. It has never been easier to glean this much detailed information about a company’s HR moves in the history of the Internet. Job seekers should be taking full advantage of this opportunity.
2. Hiring Managers
Hiring managers should always be interested in building a pipeline of talent that they can reach into when they need to expand or replace. They may have found a new source for their talent: those that are following their company. Unfortunately, unless it is available in a paid version, there is no way to search through Followers to find certain people from a certain discipline or who live in a certain city. But if someone is following your company, you have all of the excuse in the world to reach out to that person to strike up a conversation. What if your firm is not well known but your competitor has a lot of followers? Why not search through their followers for ideas of potential people to contact? These people may be interested in your industry and have just not had a chance to hear your story!
Recruiters should love the convenience that following Companies provides you. You want to know which talent are leaving companies as well as what types of positions companies are hiring for? Where companies are looking for their employees? By following LinkedIn Companies that are on your target list, or by following your competitors, you get a very good snapshot as to the hiring trends in a certain company. Ever try to get into a company and had no luck? Perhaps that new hire is someone that you know and all you need is to get back in touch with them. This information has always been available by digging through LinkedIn: LinkedIn has now made it extremely convenient for recruiters to keep tabs on now.
A lot of information can be gleaned for sales and business development professionals by following companies in their target territories. Did the decision maker that never wanted to give you time leave your prime customer and be replaced by someone you have a good relationship with? Did your Champion get promoted to an Executive position? Is that your Ally who jumped ship and went to a competitor in your territory, giving you a chance to penetrate a new account? Is your target customer starting to hire for a new division with a product name that is appropriate for you to sell into? Sales and business development is relationship-centric, and now following companies gives you up-to-date information to make it easier for you to discover valuable business intelligence about the people within a company.
5. Marketing Professionals
While people on LinkedIn who follow companies may not be the brand advocates of those who “fan” Facebook Pages, they could be a new source of brand advocates to cultivate, a new group to reach into for ideas or support. Time will tell if the followers are just job seekers or if they truly “like” the business, but there is no reason why you can’t go out and contact these followers.
The relationship between LinkedIn’s new Follow Company feature and professional networking? Simple: just as you want to connect with people who have similar interests, perhaps you might be able to find a connection with someone who follows the same company you do. This could be especially relevant if it is a lesser-known firm with fewer followers. Give it a try and windmill network!
There is one catch to all of this that you should be aware of: With the exception of the new Job posting announcements and the people following companies, all of the information about recent hirings or departures is based on user-generated content. In other words, the timing of all of this is dependent on that person actually updating their profile with their new information. If you leave an old company or join a new one, you may not update your LinkedIn Profile for several weeks…
What other types of LinkedIn users can benefit from LinkedIn’s new feature?