Why Leaders Need To Be LinkedIn

October 25, 2012

I am presenting today to the Nevada State Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference in Reno. I am co-presenting in a session on using LinkedIn for recruiting talent. My role is to explain what LinkedIn is, why it is important, and what a good profile looks like. The assumption is that some of the attendees will not currently be using LinkedIn.

The most important question I will address is why being on LinkedIn is important. Although I’m speaking to HR managers, the reason why you need to be on LinkedIn is true for all leaders and managers, regardless of your job title.

The reason why all leaders need to be LinkedIn is simple – it is a strategic imperative. Sure LinkedIn is a powerful recruitment tool, but your presence or absence on LinkedIn says a lot about you and your company. I still meet people that thumb their nose at LinkedIn and continue to claim it is a “fad”. Those folks are simply not paying attention, and not paying attention to your external environment always results in strategic consequences. LinkedIn and tools like it are here to stay because they are part of the fabric of the paradigm shift to social business. LinkedIn is the entry level social platform for professionals. Even if you choose not to participate in the cultural revolution taking place on Facebook and Twitter, there is no excuse to continue to sit on the sideline as LinkedIn continues to grow, improve, and solidify it’s strategic relevance.

If you are not on LinkedIn, you are assuming an ineffective posture that will ultimately marginalize both your personal relevance and your value to your organization. In these hyper-competitive and hyper-connected times, your organization needs more from you than the status quo of the past. Your organization needs you to help them listen, engage, respond, and learn from your increasingly connected web of customers, employees, and suppliers.

If you call yourself a leader and you are not on LinkedIn, you are a relic – “a trace of some past or outmoded practice, custom, or belief.” Being a relic is a matter of choice. With respect to participating in LinkedIn and learning the new realities of good social business, its a totally unnecessary and stubborn choice.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Mark Estee forward your post to me and I agree to the extent that a leader’s audience (customers/clients, employees, industry colleagues, shareholders, etc.) is on LinkedIn, leaders need to be there as well … and posting compelling content to engage their audience! Barack Obama and T. Boone Pickens are two examples of this.

    Christine Hueber

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Christine. I love Mark Estee! My point about the strategic imperative of LinkedIn is not about the value of the tool to say things to others, but about what your presence or absence on LinkedIn says about you. Too many business people are fully entrenched in a communication and for that matter business paradigm of the past, not the one of the future. Most people I know that are not on LinkedIn are sitting out because of fear, ignorance, or stubbornness – those are not competitive postures. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Christine! Bret

  2. Keith Graham says:

    I have been using LinkedIn for a couple years. I am particulary interested in what you consider “what a good profile looks like”.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    glad you are using LI, Keith. A good profile is a complete profile. Good picture, short, compelling descriptions of how you add value, good use of searched for keywords, connections, recommendations.

  3. @Bret – agree with you to the extent that the leader’s audience is on LinkedIn, yes. Otherwise, no.

    As the #1 LinkedIn All Time Top US Female Expert, I would also recommend that every effective profile have the following keyword-rich sections: headline that includes a compelling call to action, summary, current and past position titles.

    This will a) grow your list and b) rank you higher in LinkedIn search results.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    If you view LinkedIn as simply a tool, then yes. I am thinking broader and view a leader’s participation on LinkedIn as an indicator of a learning posture. Just because your customers of today are not on LinkedIn today does not mean that your customers of the future will not be on LI and platforms like it. The time to learn is before they get there. My advice is more strategic and tactical. Bret

  4. Nick Stepanovich says:

    “Being a relic is a matter of choice”

    Reading this post was worth it to take away that statement. Learning, Re-Learning and Staying Relevant is the “New Literate”

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Nick. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Bret