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Who are the entrepreneurs on LinkedIn?



With over 300 million users globally, LinkedIn is often thought of as the place for professionals to look for new jobs. However, it turns out the overwhelming majority of users are there to network, to build relationships and to get more sales.

LinkedIn is the default business social network for all those “dynamic” (over 1.2 million), “innovative” (over 1.9 million) and director-level and above (over 2.5 million just in the UK, and well over 30 million globally) types.

When you look closely at UK users who are business owners or leaders (that is, owners, directors, partners and above), there are more users of LinkedIn in the companies with 5,000+ employees than there are in those of 1 to 50 employees. No surprise, perhaps?

But look at the people who are entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial, and LinkedIn tells a very different story!

Over 50%[i] of the entrepreneurs on LinkedIn UK are in companies of fewer than 50 employees. This seems to support the notion that entrepreneurs and small businesses are fuelling the growth in our economy.

In particular, small and micro businesses of 1 to 10 employees are using LinkedIn in the most entrepreneurial ways. They represent over 27%[ii] of the total entrepreneur audience. I  know of some who are extracting £100K+ in revenues just in year one! That’s easy ROI from a free-to-use platform.[iii]

This has some interesting implications, as I see lots of large corporates in a very complacent place when it comes to social networking and social selling. Entrepreneurs, it seems, are taking the lead by looking beneath the surface and unearthing the quick wins through referrals, reputation-building and meeting others through existing networks. For them, LinkedIn offers a free or low-cost route to lucrative markets – and they are reaping the rewards associated with it.

[i] Statistics from 08/04/14 based on UK LinkedIn profiles identifying users as entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial or derivatives

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] In this example, users were using LinkedIn’s free functionality. Whilst the upgrades provide extended functionality, much value can clearly be extracted from the free functionality first.