Professionals have been using LinkedIn to create personal networks. The key was the personal connection. It was recommended against reaching out to people who you didn’t know or to whom you could not attribute any connection. Unlike Facebook or other consumer-oriented social sites, your network was pretty well a closed world.
That is changing a bit now. LinkedIn has added a following feature, so that you can keep tabs on changes at a company. If you search for a company and click on its profile, you will now see two new options. One is to follow that company, and another is the tab showing who else is following the company. You do not need to know anyone at the company to follow them.
Following is in keeping with one of LinkedIn’s primary draws: it flags new hires, new positions, recent departures, and other staff-oriented changes. But the company profile also shows current stock information for publicly traded corporations, as well as company data (employees, revenue, locations) provided by BusinessWeek. The page is broken up into other information blocks, including subsidiaries and related businesses. Some of the information is based on the number of employees in LinkedIn, so take some of the demographics with a grain of salt.
The quality of a company’s site will depend on whether it has been claimed or not. I included the screenshot of the Capgemini page because someone is clearly taking care of it (and the last person to edit it is listed on the company page).
The company page is full of useful information, highlighting contacts you might have amongst current and former employees. The ability to follow, though, means you can see when changes are happening in particular departments or with particular staff. It will be interesting to see if the following feature expands beyond just the toing and froing of staff.