You probably don't need to join Facebook for your work (unless you're a marketing executive). You even can still get away with not being active on Twitter.
But for all executives, yes, even CFOs and other C-suite types, LinkedIn is, as one executive recruiter put it, "no longer an option. It's a must!"
The social network for professionals has 100 million-plus users, worldwide. While it's well-known as a job-hunting site, in the last year, it has added several capabilities that have turned it into something far more powerful. It is now a resource for networking, hiring, tracking industry news and developing business opportunities in every field, notes CIO's Kristin Burnham.
Here are three ways LinkedIn could help you now:
1. Make a Key Overseas Hire
When you're hiring in New York or Chicago, it's easy to rely on a trusted recruiter or your own network. But what about if you're expanding and opening a division in, say, VIetnam? As more companies expand into emerging markets, they're facing the challenge of finding seasoned, local management talent. Some executives are turning to LinkedIn. They're able to search resumes quickly for leads on executives who have experience at multinationals, for instance, or have studied abroad. NetSuite CFO Ron Gill told CFO Magazine that his firm relies on the service to help find local finance talent in Manila since opening a shared-services center there.
2. Find Out What Your Connections Are Reading
One way to manage the information overload is to turn to reliable curators, people or groups that will do the sifting for you. In 2011, LinkedIn launched "LinkedIN Today," an aggregation of the top news by industry. It is tailored to you based on what your connections are reading and sharing. So if you want to know what your colleagues are reading, and you only have a few minutes, scan the headlines on LinkedIn Today. You also can track multiple industries.
3. Keep a High Profile
You're not job-hunting? That, according to Cindy Kraft, a coach for finance executives, is the best time to be raising your visibility on the site. In an article for Businessfinance.com, called, "5 Misconceptions CFOs Hold About LinkedIn," she writes: "Recruiters find something innately appealing about passively-positioned candidates--winning the trophy candidate equates to another feather in their cap and a notch up the reputation ladder."
Even more important, Kraft notes, LinkedIn now has become a place to learn about and promote companies and the executive team. Remember those old corporate packages that companies used to mail out? LinkedIn has replaced that, as many professionals (including the press) turn to the site to read the executive team's bios and new hires. It's also emerging as a tool for highly-targeted promotions. Recently, Cisco Systems launched a video ad campaign on LinkedIn. The video-embedded ad landed in 140,000 C-level execs' in-boxes on LinkedIn.
If you and your executive team are missing from LinkedIn, then it's the 1990s equivalent of not having a corporate web site. You may not be the only one, but you're missing out on a key advantage: The chance to boost your credibility and prominence.