By Jason Terry, talking about some common questions and concerns we hear when executive teams are considering allowing LinkedIn use on company time.
I was talking to a good friend recently about push back they were getting from their executive team about supporting LinkedIn use on company time. I’ve heard the concerns before. And it was a great opportunity for me to put some responses to those concerns in an email. The goal was to give them ammo to use when trying to convince the team to move forward.
My email was well received. And after reading it again I thought it might make a good blog post. Primarily because lots of companies are struggling with some of the same issues and concerns. My hope is that if you are hearing these kinds of things in your organization, that you can use some of my ideas to break through the roadblocks.
1) LinkedIn is a way for people to hack into our network.
There are thousands of ways to hack into a network. Emails with bad links that install malware. Firewalls and routers that haven’t been updated in years. Servers running web applications with known security holes. And yes, LinkedIn is another possible way. The truth that any knowledgeable IT person will agree with is that the best defense is a layered approach of software, anti-virus, employee training and robust backups.
Blocking LinkedIn use to protect your company network is a big problem from a risk vs. reward perspective. Yes, you might make your network a bit more secure. But you lose all of the business benefits that your company can realize if they use LinkedIn effectively. Growth through referrals. Improved company culture. Stronger talent acquisition. And more.
2) Our competitors will steal our employees if they’re on LinkedIn.
If another company wants to poach your employees, it will happen regardless of whether or not someone has a LinkedIn profile.
Sure, a strong profile with lots of connections makes any employee more desirable, but so do all the other things like their reputation around the city, them showing up at events and not-for-profit participation, etc. In most cities, and in most industries, everyone already knows the good people working for other companies. Having a LinkedIn profile doesn’t make much of a difference in this situation.
Yes, LinkedIn does make it easier for someone to pull together a list of your employees. So what? I’ve always said if you take care of your people, they will take care of you. And the good ones will give you the heads up that they are getting calls from headhunters or competitors if/when it happens. If they leave you for a competitor, the reasons are usually compensation, job satisfaction and growth opportunity. Having a LinkedIn profile (or not) won’t move the needle when a competitor wants to attract one of your top employees.
3) Social media is a waste of time, and I don’t want my team wasting their time during business hours.
I can tell you from personal experience that Blue Gurus has grown every year since 2009 using nothing but storytelling in our blog, networking and linking in with people on LinkedIn. We’re staying top of mind with all our referral partners. LinkedIn is a proven business tool for growth and reputation building. I think using LinkedIn should be part of their job responsibilities!
And yes, there are people that will abuse access to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and more during work. But the ones that truly want to waste time are going to use their cell phones in the bathroom every hour if they can’t do it on their work computer. And good employees (that you hired because they have a good work ethic) can use social media interaction to give their brain a break and recharge a few times a day. If they’re getting their work done, it shouldn’t be an issue.
That said, trust but verify. If you’re worried about people spending too much time on social media sites, check with your IT people. You may have the ability to run reports about time spent on social sites by team member. Run those reports to see if your concerns are valid. If they are, have a conversation with the problem children. In most situations, simply making your team aware that their internet use is being monitored is deterrent enough.
4) None of our executives have profiles.
That may be true at your company, but if you do research on other companies, I think you will find a very different story. The majority of the companies in Kansas City benefit from their executives and salespeople using LinkedIn.
In some situations, based on the size of the city or the industry, there might not be as many executives using LinkedIn. This is an opportunity to be towards the front of the trend… not bleeding edge, but leading edge. And what a great opportunity to beat your competitors to the relationship market by embracing LinkedIn with some training and a good strategy?
5) Our executives see very little benefit from using LinkedIn.
How can they see benefit if they’ve not invested any time in the tool?
In terms of sales and marketing expense, using LinkedIn for relationship building and storytelling through blogging are two of the lowest cost, farthest reaching methods for getting your message into the minds of your clients, referral partners, employees and prospects.
Mic likes to make the analogy about going to the gym. It’s like someone telling you that the gym has no benefit for them. Even though they’ve never bought a membership (set up a LinkedIn profile) and never worked out (connected to people, shared stories.)
Does your company block LinkedIn at the office? Are there any other concerns you’ve heard from management about using LinkedIn or social media while you work that I didn’t cover? I would love to hear your thoughts. And I hope this story was helpful to you in some way. Thanks for reading!