How to use LinkedIn to Conduct Industry Research

The companies that act as the keystone for major industries are all on LinkedIn. They publish original and curated content that can provide you key insights. LinkedIn is an excellent platform to learn more about those industries. It also allows you to engage directly with other proactive professionals. Here’s how to identify key trends and insight across industries.

Know your Industry

This sounds basic but it’s always the basic information that trips people up the most. You need to understand your industry well and what skills and resources it values. If you don’t know this off the top of your head, do a quick Google search to see what companies are dominating your industry nationwide and in your city. (The results of those two searches may be the same. It’s okay if it is, but you need to be aware of how the companies in your city compare to nationwide averages.)

For example, if you are in the oil and gas industry, then you know (or should know) that Exxon Mobile, Chevron, Phillips 66, and Valero Energy are at the top of the Fortune 500 list. As leaders, those companies are setting trends that affect the rest of the market.

However, according to Houston Business Journal, the largest energy employers in Houston are Exxon Mobile, Shell Oil, and Schlumberger. If you intend on staying in the industry, you need to be cognizant of who’s setting the pace on a national and local level.

Follow Industry Leaders

If you scroll to the bottom of your LinkedIn profile, you’ll find a section titled “Interests”. Under Interests, you can follow different influencers, companies, groups, and schools. Make it a point to follow the industries that are dominating the market. The people and companies you follow will shape your newsfeed on LinkedIn. You’ll get updates and notifications that correlate with the interests you follow.

Using our oil and gas example, it would be a good idea to follow Exxon Mobile, Chevron, Phillips 66, Valero Energy, Shell, and Schlumberger. Having a solid list of about 5-10 companies will keep your newsfeed focused. It’ll be easier to spot trends because they’ll look familiar across different platforms. For instance, if Exxon Mobile rolled out a new software that reduces the demand for mechanical engineers, chances are Chevron and other companies are going to start using a similar software. That’s the type of information you want to be ahead of.

If the CEOs and other upper-level executives are active on LinkedIn and publish original content regularly, then follow them as well. They’ll have invaluable insight regarding how the industry is faring and things to come. This will give you a distinct advantage among your peers. How many of your peers are going to be proactive enough to follow industry leaders on LinkedIn and read the work they publish?

Read Publications Regularly

If you are serious about doing industry research, you should be reading publications about your industry on a daily basis. I recognize we all have busy lives, but even dedicating 10 minutes of reading new material can make all the difference.

LinkedIn makes it easy too!

If you are following industry leaders and influencers, then your news feed is already populated with the most recent information. Articles and publications on LinkedIn tend to be very digestible as well. You could easily do a quick dive into new trends and outlooks in 30 minutes, bookmark a few key notes for further research and move on in your day.

Synthesize the Knowledge

Learning about industry trends and outlooks can only help you if it makes sense. It is very easy to get overwhelmed and lost in the data. If your mind is lost in figures and facts, nothing you learn will be useful.

The best way to make it make sense is to simplify the information. Pretend you have to explain everything to a 5-year-old. If a 5-year-old can understand it, then you can too. If you understand the information, then you can use it to grow your business or develop your professional brand.

Boil down your research to 2-3 bullet points for your own records. In addition to explaining it to a 5-year-old, challenge yourself to explain what’s going on with someone who is unfamiliar with your industry. It’ll test your ability to synthesize your knowledge on two different levels.

Position yourself to Act

Once you understand, truly understand, what’s going on in your industry, you need to be ready to adapt accordingly. This is how to stay competitive and relevant.

That means if there’s a new software you need to learn, then sign up for classes. If Chinese is going to be very prudent to your industry then find a tutor. If you anticipate needing a new job, then brush up your resume. Don’t let the knowledge you gain go to waste by inaction. Industry research is just one tool that can help you make informed and powerful career moves.

Bonus: Every month LinkedIn publishes an industry report. This report can give you a bird’s eye view of various elements that affect your industry. Do yourself a favor and take a look at what the report has to say about your city. Here’s the report for Houston April 2018.

LinkedIn is an extraordinarily powerful tool that goes underutilized. Did you know that you can use LinkedIn to revamp your resume? Plan your career? Transition industries? Build professional relationships? That’s just the tip of the iceberg!

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