LinkedIn is the best B2B directory around. It’s mostly accurate in terms of the contact information users share with it. LinkedIn’s trouble has been that not everyone checked into the site very often, with many being active only when they were in active job-seeking mode. Tools such as Pulse and getting posts from the likes of Richard Branson have helped only to a certain extent in driving up the frequency of visits.
So how can the connection impact you?
1. LinkedIn is often the surest way to reach a contact – its mails are always delivered and bypass spam filters. But most people read their emails in their inbox and don’t visit LinkedIn to respond. Since many of those inboxes are Microsoft powered, I’m sure they’ll figure out ways to add value to this.
2. Many CRM tools integrate a person’s social activity on Twitter, Facebook an LinkedIn to give you a richer database. By getting preferential access to LinkedIn, Microsoft may be able to offer you that extra value without your having to set up a separate CRM tool.
3. As a marketer I have often felt that LinkedIn is biased towards recruitment as its primary function. That was its original offering and whether by choice or default it has continued to lean that way, even as recent attempts have been made to woo the sales and marketing community. I still miss the Events product and I feel that Groups and SlideShare are underexploited from a sales perspective. Microsoft as a pro in the B2B space is likely to relook at the product portfolio and perhaps develop these offerings more.
4. Geek skills! Microsoft’s huge technical expertise can help LinkedIn become more mobile-friendly and slicker. They will be able to adapt quickly and catch up with Facebook in tech-savvy.
5. The downside? While much of the positive is expected to come from a closer integration with business apps, this will understandably make some users jittery. A spike in LinkedIn activity, such as seeking recommendations or making new friends is usually associated with a desire to change jobs. Will users be comfortable with this information being available to their employers? A lot depends on the privacy controls and what goes into the ‘newsfeed’.
Jessie Paul was amongst the first 100,000 users of LinkedIn and her “CMO Roundtable – By Invitation Only” Group was included in the LinkedIn Hall of Fame. She is proud to have both LinkedIn and Microsoft as clients for her organization, Paul Writer.