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LinkedIn alliance bolsters business

Local membership surges as locals realize the potential of social networking
  • Although relatively few Bahamians have taken advantage of Linkedin, experts say this could be changing, as locals learn the corporate benefits behind social networking. File photo

STEWART MILLER
NG Business Reporter
stewart@nasguard.com

Published: Aug 30, 2011

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A recent spike in membership of a LinkedIn group focused on Bahamian business opportunities caught the attention of a South Florida marketing guru – and a strategic partnership formed as a result.

Local consultancy firm Intelligent Business Services (IBS) announced yesterday that it was partnering with Miami-based business development agency RaynMaker Inc. in a move to broaden the benefits Bahamian businesses are currently receiving from social media.  IBS set up the Bahamas Opportunities LinkedIn group about a year ago, according to Sydney Strachan, vice president of marketing for IBS, but in the last two or three months local membership has shot-up, reaching about 500 people.

Ray Knight, Chief Envisioneering Officer for RaynMaker, told this newspaper that, based on his research, that’s about half of the Bahamas-based LinkedIn users base.

“Sydney was successful in getting 500 members in such a short time,” Knight said, referring to the recent membership surge.  “That really is unusual. Yesterday when we ran the numbers on The Bahamas, there was less than 1,000 business people who lived in The Bahamas who are on LinkedIn.  So they got a 50 percent penetration in a few months – without spending any money.”

Knight said that LinkedIn had 125 million members worldwide, 44 million of which were in the United States.  For any of those companies hoping to tap Bahamian markets, he said the networks provided by social media alleviate the need to set up an office, hire people and spend money on marketing in an unfamiliar marketplace.

“In order to think and move big, you have to have local players.  The best part is, it’s ‘freasy’,” he said, which is a word he coined to represent the fact that it was both free and easy.

According to Strachan, membership in the group initially started to pick up after a Nassau Guardian news story that gleaned details about an employee of the Utilities Regulation and Communications Authority (URCA) from a LinkedIn profile.  Now, he says IBS is processing about eight new members, local and international, every day.

For Strachan, he says LinkedIn is a “goldmine” that many local business are leaving untapped.  Locally, he said some businesses have directed their social media programs towards marketing and public relations on sites such as Facebook.

“Facebook is good, but Bahamians are not capitalizing as much as they could or should from social media,”  Strachan said.  “They are underestimating the power of LinkedIn.”

IBS recently secured a contract with Kaplan’s online international division through a LinkedIn connection, Strachan said, telling Guardian Business that the bulk of IBS’ clients are now sourced through social media.  His business also benefits on the flip side, too – it has been outsourcing work to companies in India and China, for example, through connections gained through LinkedIn.

On the Island of Grand Bahama, OTB Business Services’ International Business Development Strategist/Marketing Consultant, Raquel Hart, said she has been using LinkedIn since 2009, when she made her first foray into social networking.

“As a business professional I wanted to network with like-minded individuals as well as expand my contact base to reach global entities,” Hart said in a statement to Guardian Business yesterday.  “As a result of LinkedIn, I am now The Bahamas representative to the International Advisory Council for Marketing Professionals, establishing standards for the marketing profession.”

Hart entered a business relationship with Knight about a month ago to optimize her businesses LinkedIn presence, she said, with a “significant” spike in her hits and enquiries since.

Hart said at present, based on the hits she can see, most of the opportunities being created for Bahamian businesses are with international companies.

According to Strachan, local real estate firms, professionals, government employees and young entrepreneurs are utilizing the group.   As the number of local professionals using it grows, he said there may be more of a shift towards local business-to-business applications.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 August 2011 14:59
 

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