I believe it really depends on the business you are in.

For me [ because it is always about each person’s individual wants and needs ], I need to find new clients for my design studio. And LinkedIn does not cater to that need directly. For my needs, LinkedIn assumes that I know which company will need my services and then I can just search for the name of that company and find employees of that company and get a foot in their door.

Unfortunately, I do not know which company needs my services.
Well of course, everyone needs corporate identity design and other design services or photography at some point or another. But if it had been so simple to get in touch with those people, I wouldn’t have been on LinkedIn.

A slightly better alternative is openBC’s search where there are two things that help you out in the same regard.

  • Everyone’s profile has the “Wants” and “Haves” categories that can be filled in by my potential client to read “Logo Design” or “Graphic Design” etc. when they are seeking for those services.
  • I can set up Search Agents, which deliver the results of a specific search right into my inbox every week. For example, can search for people who have joined in the last seven days and their “Wants” section has the word “Design” in it. Thus, I get a set of people who “might” need my services. Of course this does not mean that they do want to use only my services, they might not be comfortable working with someone online [ similarly there could be so many other reasons why the deal might not work out ] – but I get a “target-set” of people who are open to receiving a message from someone whose “Haves” equal their “Wants”.
  • I can also see the people who visited my profile and how they got there – I get a link to their profile and also from where within the openBC system they clicked on my profile – to give me some idea whether their visit was business oriented or whether they were just browsing. This way, if I feel that the person might need my services in the long run, I can establish contact with them.

With LinkedIn, none of the above is possible.

Which also means that it is not one of LinkedIn’s prerogatives to create that kind of a platform – they do give a lot of importance to privacy of members so maybe that’s one reason they are so reluctant to open up more avenues for me to target my market and grow my business. So LinkedIn might have more CEO’s – but these are people who don’t want to be found – and openBC has less CEO’s but those who are on openBC, are more open to being found.

I am finding it increasingly difficult to actually “get” any clients out of LinkedIn. Sure I have had literally hundreds of enquiries but “none” of them have converted. If the enquiries on openBC too had not converted, then I might have been tempted to say that my methods suck – maybe there’s something wrong with my approach – but that isn’t the case – I’ve had many successful client engagements with people who are on openBC.

Right now, on LinkedIn, search is limited to Keyword, Company Name, Person’s Name, Area Search, search based on person’s Title and Industry etc. They are, however, not using any fuzzy logic to connect all the variables. How to I create a keyword [ or any other variable ] search that will lead me to someone who “might” be interested in my services? I am not saying that LinkedIn needs to give me all the answers and put me directly in touch with someone who “absolutely” and “certainly” wants my services – but if they could give a “ballpark” target-set, at least I could take my chances!

For someone who’s looking for a job, or someone with a very specific set of queries – for example someone looking for an employee of a company, or someone searching directly for a service provider [ search for a logo designer for example ] – I believe LinkedIn makes it terribly easy for them to get results. But for someone like me – I need to search for people looking for design/photography services – it’s a tough job.

How can LinkedIn fulfil the needs of someone like me?
I am searching for people who might be searching for me! So I can get to them first.