Linkedin as New Age Yellow Pages

Linkedin has become a valuable resource for connecting business professionals. Recently Linkedin has added a professional services feature that allows members to share their business contacts in specific service categories. The new “Services” tab allows users to find people via recommendations from colleagues. You choose someone from your network, select which category you’re recommending them for, then fill in additional information related to the work you’ve done together. If you then want to find a graphic designer, career coach, consultant or even a child-care provider, you can browse the new section and see how the members of your network have ranked particular service providers.

Linkedin is a powerful and growing business network that recently reported topping the 17 million-member mark, making it one of the world’s largest business networks on the Internet. With a large base of business-focused members, finding ways to share vendors and service providers seems like a natural extension with the possibility of enhancing its revenue generation and profitability.

Business projects often involve multiple partners where companies seek various businesses to bid and often require recommendations as part of their selection process. Being able to tap into a network that provides insights on how to approach projects and who to contact is a valuable resource and a smart way to leverage Web 2.0 features and functionality.

This type of social/business linking approach is one Yellow Page publishers could adopt. With vast databases of local business information and a strong link to local communities, directory publishers could encourage users to share their experiences related to kitchen remodeling, home improvement projects, purchasing a home, planning a wedding or setting up home health services. They could then link the providers used with ratings of each that could be shared with others needing similar services. Imagine approaching an unfamiliar project with no vendors in mind, then visiting a publisher site where they offer consumer advice, step-by-step instructions and locally endorsed vendors (via consumer reviews) who can help complete the task. That would be a powerful use of the local community as well as a stronger linking of buyers, influencers and sellers. 

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