I want to add my two cents on the launch of LinkedIn Services, a services business directory based exclusively on members’ recommendations. Full disclosure: I am a total LinkedIn addict. I currently have 492 direct contacts in LinkedIn allowing to connect with close to 2 million members. I use it extensively in my business development role to contact companies where I don’t have direct contacts. It works for me and I love it.
Now, in this Reuters release (via the Washington Post), Konstantin Guericke, Vice-President of Marketing, says: “No one should be picking a lawyer from the yellow pages. Recommendations based on personal connections are important.”
Yes, word-of-mouth via your trusted sources has always been a key lead generator for local businesses but I’m not sure LinkedIn is for everyone. I get a sense that B2B referrals will play a bigger role than B2C in this new directory. For example, I’m a business and I’m looking for a legal firm for my business. I might use my LinkedIn network. But if I’m getting divorced or I want to challenge a speeding ticket, not sure I’ll rely on my LinkedIn network. I think they might successful in attracting some of the SOHO workers that usually do not advertise their services via traditional business directories though.
What it means: capturing word-of-mouth referrals via networking software is something that will become standard in any local search sites in the future. I also think it can help traditional local media companies make some headway in the SOHO market. Finally, I believe that capturing word-of-mouth referrals will actually increase the local search reference pie and not necessarily cannibalize current usage.