The LinkedIn story is one of the signature success stories of social networking. The 10 year old network had 200 million users as of January and has established itself as a successful advertising and recruiting platform.
While it’s a shadow of Facebook, with 1 billion users and $3.7 billion in revenue, LinkedIn is more essential to business and therefore is less likely to have a high churn rate – the number of people abandoning a social network each month than Facebook. The differing potential of the networks is reflected in the stock market: Facebook ($30) is a quarter of the value of the much smaller network ($120).
Some social network-minded types believe LinkedIn is only just getting started and will become a major player in the HR space. But one interesting fact about LinkedIn are the people who aren’t on it.
Everyone in professional services has an account but where are the builders, carpenters, welders and electricians? A whole section of the workforce is not represented in the first global business directory.
This is despite the fact that tradespeople have similar needs to white-collar workers. The construction industry relies on a constantly changing network of contractors and sub-contractors that flows to where the jobs are. The right contacts are essential to finding work, as are promoting your skills and your work history.
A company in Australia is arriving at the concept of a blue-collar social networking platform through its work in the mining indusry. PRM Cloud was one of salesforce.com’s first resellers in Australia and is one of a few platinum partners in the region.
It has built a cloud-based program to manage the process of hiring workers for mine sites, an often highly complicated exercise involving flying experts from around the globe, dealing with visas, site training and clearance. MiCloud is a tool for HR professionals in the mining industry, or in the industry lingo “workforce mobilisation” administrators.
PRM Cloud is adding a new module called MiCloud Lockbox which will let tradespeople creae a profile and store their driving licences, trade certificates, visas and other essential documents online and share it with employers, recruiters, government agencies and the like. I interviewed PRM Cloud CEO Leigh Kelson for an upcoming cover feature in CRN Australia magazine and he talked about the potential to turn the Lockbox application into an embryonic blue-collar LinkedIn.
“If you want to network with a rigger, tradie, boilermaker, you won’t find them on LinkedIn. We’re trying to connect the oil and mine and gas communities around the world,” Kelson told me.
A week later I came across Tradie Exchange which aims to be the “Facebook of Tradies”. “The goal of Tradie Exchange is to connect tradies and trades professionals to help them to be more productive and successful – that is,
help make them more money!” the site says.
There are several efforts in the US and the UK (My Hammer, Check -a-Trade, My Builder) that provide a directory of tradespeople for people looking for help building a house or renovating their office. But perhaps the blue-collar version of LinkedIn will emerge from a site where tradespeople are wanting to network with each other.
Image credit: Xstrata