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With just over 830 million users, LinkedIn has never been so hegemonic in the professional social networking market. More than just a networking and recruitment platform, Microsoft’s social network is now the main arena for branding, B2B prospecting and thought leadership. In this article, LeadIn explains everything you need to know about LinkedIn!

LinkedIn… what is it?

LinkedIn is a professional social network created in 2002 that allows professionals to recruit, find a job, do B2B prospecting, work on their company’s brand image or position themselves as experts in their field of activity(personal branding).

Today, LinkedIn is the top of mind among professional social networks. In concrete terms, it is the first brand that is cited by almost 100% of professionals when asked about the professional social networks they know. The few competitors such as Angel List, Opportunity or MeetUp remain relatively confidential.

LinkedIn uses the basic codes of second-generation social networks such as Facebook (Myspace is considered a first-generation social network). In short, it is about creating a profile, feeding it with content in the form of text, images or videos, and interacting with other users of the social network through likes, comments and other forms of feedback. There is also a system for sharing publications, hashtags and an instant messaging module. Like other social networks, LinkedIn has an algorithm that governs the visibility and organic reach of posts, as well as an advertising offer. LinkedIn also allows you to create a page to promote an organization (company, association, Think Tank…), as well as groups composed of members sharing a common interest.

But unlike generalist social networks like Facebook or Instagram, LinkedIn does not offer photo or video albums so as not to divert its professional purpose.

A brief history of LinkedIn: from slow start to global hegemony

LinkedIn was founded in 2002 in Mountain View, California, an area that is also home to the headquarters of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The social network was created under the impetus of a certain Reid Hoffman, serial entrepreneur, in collaboration with members of the team that created PayPal and Socialnet.com, namely Alle Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly and Jean-Luc Vaillant, among others.

LinkedIn’s beginnings were confidential, limited to a few hundred users a year after its launch. It was around the middle of the 2000s that the social network really came into its own, with the beginning of a craze on the part of American small and medium-sized business owners who saw it as a less laborious way of recruiting and benchmarking in order to draw inspiration from best practices and keep an eye on the competition.

LinkedIn will continue its development, with a worldwide success facilitated by the absence of any serious competitor on the market of professional social networks (with the exception of Viadeo for a few years). The first milestone of success was reached in June 2008, when LinkedIn became a “unicorn,” a company valued at $1 billion (or more). A year later, LinkedIn is ranked 10th on Silicon Valley Insider’s annual list of the 100 most valuable startups. In 2011, LinkedIn generated more than $154 million in advertising revenue, surpassing Twitter.

LinkedIn will experience its first big crisis in February 2016, following the release of disappointing financial results for shareholders. The social network’s stock will fall 43.6% in one day, with a record loss of $10 billion on its market capitalization. This underperformance undoubtedly accelerated Microsoft’s buyout of the platform, a deal that closed in June 2016 for a whopping $26 billion. ” Microsoft will allow LinkedIn to maintain its brand, culture and independence,” said a press release issued after the acquisition. After a confidential start, LinkedIn entered the very closed club of GAFAM.

The importance of an optimized LinkedIn profile for job search

With more than 830 million members in some 200 countries, LinkedIn has become an essential channel in the recruitment process, whether for companies looking to fill positions or for recruitment firms mandated by their clients. Here’s why creating and optimizing your LinkedIn profile is crucial to your job search:

  • LinkedIn’s free plan is relatively generous. It is sufficient for people looking for a job.
  • LinkedIn has become a reflex for recruiters, whether to source potential candidates, or to find out about candidates who have applied via other channels. A candidate who cannot be found on LinkedIn will leave with a serious handicap.
  • LinkedIn allows you to explore job offers through a powerful search filter, with interesting criteria: location, possibility of working remotely, type of contract, etc.
  • LinkedIn is part of the application process for many companies. It is increasingly common for candidates to be asked to upload their resume and provide the URL of their LinkedIn profile.
  • LinkedIn will also allow you to learn about the company and the person you are talking to before your interview. Note: if your interviewer has a Premium account on LinkedIn, he or she will know that you have visited his or her profile. Don’t panic: this is an encouraging signal that shows your rigor and motivation.
  • LinkedIn allows you to network and cultivate relationships that will benefit you throughout your career, especially if you find yourself in a job search situation. Perhaps a long lost childhood friend works in your dream company and can recommend you?
  • An optimized, dense and sufficiently populated LinkedIn profile can work in your favor and help you stand out from other candidates, especially if your skills are recommended by others. Note: the LinkedIn profile often appears in the first three results returned by Google when you type in a person’s first and last name.

Here are some figures that show that LinkedIn is now an indisputable pillar for recruiters and job seekers(source):

  • Every minute, 6 people are recruited by companies thanks to LinkedIn ;
  • Each year, more than three million people are recruited through LinkedIn ;
  • In 2022, hiring via LinkedIn increased 88% over 2021;
  • 57% of job seekers use LinkedIn in their search journey. Only Indeed does better (62%);
  • 72% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find their next hire;
  • 67% of recruiters say that candidates recruited via LinkedIn are “more successful”.

The importance of LinkedIn for B2B prospecting

While LinkedIn has been an effective prospecting channel for B2B professionals since the mid-2010s, the pandemic has simply put the social network on orbit when it comes to generating qualified leads. Today, 16.2% of LinkedIn’s 830 million users log in every day. In Q2 2022, LinkedIn recorded more than 15.5 billion sessions, an all-time high. Another record is that the reach of LinkedIn ads jumped by 22 million users in the same period, and brands report a 33% increase in purchase intent following a LinkedIn lead generation campaign.

This “lead magnet” aspect is not only quantitative. According to the 2022 Hootsuite Digital Trends Report, marketers report up to twice the conversion rate on leads generated on LinkedIn compared to other marketing channels.

According to a study by IDC, three-quarters of B2B buyers and 84% of top management use LinkedIn to make purchasing decisions. This alone should motivate you to start a B2B prospecting effort on LinkedIn! Here is a comparative table of emailing vs. B2B prospecting statistics on LinkedIn from a MailChimp study:

E-mail

LinkedIn InMail

Bounce rate

0,6 %

0 %

Unsubscribe

0,3 %

0,1 %

Opening rate

21,6 %

57,6 %

Click-through rate (CTR)

2,6 %

3,6 %

LinkedIn in France: simply amazing numbers

Unlike other prospecting and sales intelligence platforms that focus on the North American market, such as Crunchbase, LinkedIn is a truly international social network. In fact, 77% of its users reside outside the U.S., including 211 million in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

In France, more than 20 million people use LinkedIn, or two-thirds of the active population. Approximately 40% of them go online every day, which is much higher than the global average. It is also worth noting that 60% of French decision-makers say they regularly respond to solicitations on LinkedIn. Even better: 80% of the messages sent by LinkedIn are read… which is much more than email. This is why salespeople who do social selling on Microsoft’s social network perform so well.

Is LinkedIn free?

LinkedIn offers two versions, one free and one paid (Premium) which can be tested for free for one month. The free version covers the social media aspect of LinkedIn with individual profiles, a (limited) search tool, matchmaking features, instant messaging, the ability to post content and join groups, etc. With a free account, you can:

  • Find and connect with colleagues and work acquaintances;
  • Solicit and grant referrals;
  • Search and view profiles of other LinkedIn members (with a limitation on third-level users);
  • Receive an unlimited number of InMails;
  • Save up to three searches and receive weekly alerts on them.

To go further, LinkedIn offers different paid subscriptions that meet the needs of everyone:

  • Premium Career, a package designed for professionals who want to develop their career, work on their personal branding and land great professional opportunities;
  • Sales Navigator, a formula specially designed for professionals who want to generate qualified leads (among others);
  • Recruiter Lite, a solution designed for recruiters and companies whose industry requires regular recruitment campaigns;
  • Premium Business, a Sales Intelligence package that allows you to obtain detailed information on your target companies;
  • LinkedIn Learning, a formula that helps you improve your skills and develop your hard and soft skills through hundreds of training courses.

What are the weaknesses and limitations of LinkedIn?

If we extend the growth curve of the number of LinkedIn users, we will reach the billion mark very quickly. In other words, you will have to work harder to “surf” and stand out. It takes time and energy, whether it’s finding relevant ideas for your publications, expanding your circle of contacts, interacting with your target audience, etc. LeadIn, the first 100% unlimited, cloud-based, intelligent LinkedIn and Email automation software, will be your secret asset to meet this challenge!

Because it is a real catalyst for sales performance, LinkedIn is unfortunately not free of dubious and intrusive practices, with salespeople who do not hesitate to bombard you with InMails to give you their product without bothering to qualify you as a prospect. So yes, spamming is less systematic compared to the email channel and even to general social networks, but it is present enough to bother you from time to time.

LinkedIn has recently experienced a large “infestation” of fake profiles. An investigation conducted by the website KrebsOnSecurity explains that malicious people are mobilizing Artificial Intelligence to create unseen photos of recruiters. The latter are then used in fake accounts that take up elements of real people’s biographies. With the rapid evolution of Deep Fake tools, it is now almost impossible to determine if a photo is authentic or if it was created from scratch. Hamish Taylor, who administers a LinkedIn group with more than 300,000 members, says he blocked nearly 13,000 fake accounts in 2022. So make sure the profile you’re interacting with is legitimate, and don’t share any compromising data about you or your company.

Bonus: the LinkedIn FAQ

It’s impossible to say everything about LinkedIn in one paper. That’s why we’ve put together a short FAQ to answer the most frequently asked questions about LinkedIn. Let’s go !

Who should I connect with on LinkedIn?

It all depends on your goal. Here is a little technique that should help you:

  • If the user has more than 500 connections, they will be more likely to accept your request, unlike users with less than 500 connections. Indeed, the latter are not inclined to connect to strangers, or are not active on the social network.
  • If the user lives in the same geographical area as you, they will be more likely to accept your request. This is called “coffee potential,” referring to the possibility of having a coffee with that person if you share professional interests.
  • Shared relationships. If you have more than 5 relationships in common, you are probably in the same professional circles.
  • If you share the same industry or function, you will probably be interested in each other’s publications and connections.

Is my LinkedIn profile picture “acceptable”?

The very fact that you are asking yourself this question indicates that it may not be the best representation of your image. Make sure the photo is recent, professional and of high quality. Note: some may opt for a more offbeat image depending on their positioning and/or their sector of activity.

Make sure your face fills the circle so your connections can recognize you, even on the thumbnail (without clicking). Avoid putting your company logo in your profile picture. White is still the best possible background, as it allows users to focus on your face while also matching well with LinkedIn’s color palette.

I have two LinkedIn accounts, what should I do?

Imagine that a recruiter, potential partner, or high-potential business prospect types in your name on the LinkedIn search bar, and comes across two or more accounts. What impression will he have of you? That of an unorganized person, at best, or a malicious person. The best thing to do is to merge your accounts from your main account settings.

On LinkedIn, should you limit yourself to people you know personally?

No, even though LinkedIn’s policy (8.2g) encourages that ” you agree not to invite people you don’t know to join your network “. This is both inapplicable in the real world, and contrary to the promise of LinkedIn, which is to help you expand your professional network. Limiting yourself to people you know in real life means building an imaginary wall around your profile and giving up on the professional and business opportunities that surround you.

To go further, we advise you to read our article ” 3rd level or more… all about LinkedIn relationship levels “.

Do recommendations on LinkedIn matter?

Relatively speaking, yes. A recommendation is a sort of validation of your skills by a former employer, colleague, etc. Sometimes it is simply a tactic of engagement and goodwill, but it does not correspond to reality. That’s why recruiters place more importance on real, verifiable testimonials, especially from a former employer or a professional who has had the opportunity to work with you on a specific project.