In over seven years of SaaS enterprise marketing, I have found Linkedin to be the best source of information for business research in my my industry - particularly competitive research.
With Linkedin, I can:
- Identify hiring trends – What are your competitors and contemporaries doing as far as personnel? Are they in the middle of a big hiring spree, or are they stagnant? This can offer clues as to how their business is doing, good or bad. A sudden trend in new hires might mean they are expanding.
What could this mean? A new outlet, a new product line, a new service, or perhaps just a large increase in demand. Compare this to your own situation to see how you stack up to the competition.
- Identify firing trends – On the flip side of personnel analysis, assess competitors’ downsizing trends. If a sudden reduction in employees occurs, this might be a good time for you to leverage your dominance. If your competitor is struggling, it’s time to increase competitive intelligence. All’s fair in love and business.
- Identify hiring anomalies - Is your competitor taking on employees with new skills or with skills that seem out of place? This could indicate an expansion, a new service or something else that’s about to happen. With proper competitive intelligence research, perhaps you can figure out what’s going on and determine if it’s something you need to consider for your own business.
- Scan competitors’ new connections – Is a competitor beginning to connect with people in a new business sector? If so, this could be an indication of a new project or a new trend. Study the connections to see what they have to offer and try to see where it could fit into your business. Perhaps you too will want to connect to them.
- Locate competitors’ previous employees – A few minutes chatting with a competitor’s former employee can gain you tons of valuable information. Are they disgruntled? Perhaps they’ll be willing to let you in on some operational details. In the best situation, perhaps you can pick them up for your team.
- Make connections with industry peers – Find LinkedIn professional groups that relate to your business. This allows you to make new business connections. If you run a salon or a spa in Maine, connect with other salon owners in Arizona to share advice. They’re not your competitors so there is nothing to lose by sharing secrets.
I hope this helps! :)