As Social Media Go, LinkedIn Provides Intriguing Opportunities for Dynamics ISVs

The word “social” is an important modifier for “social media.” It suggests socializing, which is something we tend to focus on mostly outside of work.

But if your work is an important part of your life, as it is for most owners and executives of ISVs, well, then, you are likely socializing at work as well. Socializing as in networking and marketing, and selling and recruiting. For socializing in the work sense, LinkedIn is an important place to be.

In my previous article, the first of a three-part series on social media , I expressed frustration with finding business uses for Facebook worthy of a significant time and financial investment by ISVs. Not that business uses don’t exist, but Facebook is oriented much more to socializing outside of work.

LinkedIn has become the social network of choice for serious professionals who want to socialize for work.

It’s possible to do serious business networking on LinkedIn It’s easy to check out individuals you meet via shared interests or in groups, and make judgments about whether you’d like to follow up off-line with them. It may be you simply meet someone who shares your concerns about a particular Microsoft Dynamics product, or it may be there are sales or partnership opportunities that develop. All options are open.

LinkedIn also offers important recruiting opportunities. It’s possible to identify potential contractors, consultants, or employees according to any of many criteria. You can check out individuals who may have worked with a particular developer or who live in a particular section of the country.

Where LinkedIn falls short is in the same arena as most social media fall short—in doing serious company marketing and promotion. One of the key marketing challenges for many ISVs is establishing a sense of thought leadership for their companies. It’s possible to use LinkedIn more effectively for marketing than, say, Facebook, especially via LinkedIn’s vast array of special interest groups.

ISVs can publicize company events, like Webinars, and post content with these groups, as well as to engage in serious discussions with other like-minded members. It’s even possible to launch your own special interest group.

But you’ll be sharing the limelight with other ISVs, some of them direct competitors. And you’ll have limited control of the placement of your comments and content compared with other venues more oriented toward broadcasting news and information to your target market.

For LinkedIn to work best, you need to get involved. Participate in group discussions. Look for appropriate opportunities to post white papers or articles from your company as part of the group discussions.

Keep an eye out for people in your industry who have become involved with LinkedIn, and get them onto your contact list. When you have a need for specialized contractor or consulting help, check out potential candidates on LinkedIn.

Just understand that LinkedIn is primarily oriented toward networking, not toward marketing. So you may well meet great people, a few of whom could even become partners or customers. Whatever marketing benefit you obtain will likely be gravy, not the primary benefit.

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