By J.F. McKenna
A generation ago, street-wise columnist Jimmy Breslin declared that “If you don’t toot your own horn, there is no music.” Today, I suspect, the former New York columnist and sly curbside philosopher would double-down on that dictate, pointing out that “LinkedIn not only lets you toot but hands you the rhythm section.”
Get past the palaver on and about social media—you know, KiKi’s big Facebook doggie birthday and so forth—and you have to marvel at the IT tools redefining marketing, especially business-savvy personal branding. Like plenty of others, I can see Breslin punching up LinkedIn in every sense of the expression.
If you don’t believe me, ask Jessi Hempel, whose uber-flattering profile of LinkedIn takes the star turn in Fortune magazine’s current issue. “In the past year LinkedIn has emerged as one of the most powerful business tools on the planet,” Hempel writes. No longer a staid high-tech resume library, LinkedIn now owns the hottest corner of the marketplace for career-hunting talent; likewise, it’s the digital destination for opportunistic businesses who know LinkedIn users, as Hempel reports, “are building professional portfolios that showcase their best work, from publications to videos to PowerPoint presentations.” Why, even the already gainfully employed, such as management maven Jack Welch, are frequenting the site as so-called LinkedIn Influencers. What’s not to like?
For sure much of the global village likes it. Upwards of 140 million visit the site each month. And since its 2011 IPO, the company boasts stock and revenue numbers that redefine Digital Age success. As Fortune reports, year-over-year revenue rocketed 86 percent in 2012—to $972 million.
“And this is just the beginning,” Hempel predicts. “As it reaches critical mass, LinkedIn is becoming the dominant global forum for businesses of all kinds.”
LinkedIn has already proved a great advantage for many of us online earthlings, critical mass aside. The site has reinvented the saying “You’re known by the company you keep,” offering a venue for name-dropping that no cocktail party or private gym can provide today or tomorrow. Go figure, some people are much more inclined to take professional opinions seriously when global CEOs, cable pundits and political philosophers are among one’s LinkedIn connections.
And the connections keep on coming, if you like. Cleveland Business Review finds LinkedIn an expeditious way to transform readers into contributors’ connections. CBR founder Doug Magill and I pitch the latest CBR columns on our individual profiles and then watch as readers hook up. That noted, we’re on the lookout for still more.
So is LinkedIn. Founder Reid Hoffman and CEO Jeff Weiner told Fortune that their always-improving social network is a business enterprise without peer, and that they plan to keep it that way. As the ultimate global job-hiring hall, LinkedIn points to the fact that nearly 65 percent of its membership is outside the United States.
Like Coke, LinkedIn understands the value inherent in refreshment. “In effect,” Hempel writes, “Weiner and Hoffman have built a data company that’s more reliable because users update the information themselves.”
For folks with the creds, LinkedIn is the winning proposition writ digitally, a well-watched 24-7 billboard for goals and accomplishments. If there is any downside to this technological intimacy, it’s a downside for traditional headhunters and related middlemen. They may soon become an endangered class.
Of course that may not be so bad, as I discovered only last week. The world of LinkedIn is one that values honest, fulsome content above all—who you are, what you know, what you’ve done and what you can bring to the next business party. During a casual conversation, a professional headhunter cavalierly dismissed this pragmatism as obvious, saying “content is just ‘jacks or better to open.’” Hardly, I thought to myself. Then I figured that this fellow had probably never faced a cranky editor or a demanding marcom client. For them content is everything. Or as horn-tooting virtuoso Jimmy Breslin might tell him, “Content, pal, is three aces in your hand, every time.”
The headhunter will figure that out once he clicks on Linkedin.
CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, communications consultant and former editor of the national manufacturing magazine Tooling & Production. He has chased stories throughout the country and as far away as Japan, Israel and that most exotic of financial lands, Wall Street. Reach him at email@example.com or through his LinkedIn profile: Jos. F. McKenna.
Editor’s note: An earlier version erroneously indicated that author-journalist Jimmy Breslin is deceased. Far from it: he is actually writing a new novel. The error was solely J.F. McKenna’s, and McKenna apologizes to Mr. Breslin, his family and his legion of readers.