LinkedIn of course is a great place to follow professional connections, your own organisation, discuss in groups or share content and learn from experts in many subjects. But did you think about using it for business intelligence like scoping the size of the marketing department of your competitor?
It might be the most non-obvious use of LinkedIn of all; the fact that you can get a pretty good picture of the size of your competition by simply performing a few searches. Here’s how.
Remember privacy settings
First of all, if you want to be anonymous, then open the privacy settings from the dropdown menu at the top right (click on your profile image). On the settings page you’ll find "Select what others see when you've viewed their profile" which you should switch to “You will be in complete private mode”. Now when you're searching and viewing the competition they won't know who is watching.
Run a search on LinkedIn
In the search box of LinkedIn run a search on the company’s name and any job titles that contain what you are looking for, e.g. marketing. The search will produce an immediate list. Within a few minutes of searching you will be able to see how many results appear for people currently employed at the company and, out of those, how many are working in marketing. If you’re on a paid (premium) plan with LinkedIn you can filter on e.g. “function” which means by department in addition to current company and location.
Analyse your findings
Not every employee is registered on LinkedIn, we’ve learnt that from our previous article on LinkedIn vs. Xing and Viadeo. However, on an aggregated level we can make some reasonably close estimates of e.g. the percentage of the company’s employees who are working in marketing and sales. This in turn should also (on a high-level) equate at least somewhat to the level of the company’s percentage of revenue devoted to marketing and sales efforts.
Looking at the search result and refining it not only for current employees, but also for past employees can also be interesting. This can tell you a little something about the level of churn. What’s the employee turnover rate? How long are people staying on average? Have some of them left to become consultants? If so, maybe it could be interesting to talk to such individuals (subject to any confidentiality clauses of course) when building future competitive plans.
Make an organisational chart
It might not be possible to get to a point where you can make a complete organisational chart, that depends on how much information is available at individual level to figure it out fully. But by creating a simple powerpoint or excel sheet, you could compare your own team and organisation to the competition.
The results from doing this might be very interesting indeed, especially if you are being asked by management to assess your own organisations strenghts and weaknesses vs. the competition. It might not be perfect, but it sure is worth trying because of the simplicity. Try it yourself!