Linked In Whore… Or, ‘Welcome to the 500+ club…’

So, you open up your email and find this waiting for you…

 

LinkedIn

Norman Timbuktu has indicated you are a fellow group member of The Recruiter Network – #1 Group for Recruiters

I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

– Norman Timbuktu

Hmmmmm… There it is right there…. Should I accept?  I’ll quickly check his profile… Ok, he’s a Masters Graduate (Computer Applications) from University of Panjab, Chandigarh… He has 3 years experience with Zcdf Computer Networking Systems in Chandigarh, India – as a Linux Programmer… He is looking to emigrate to Australia or the US… I am an Accounting & Finance Recruiter… Hmmmmm… I have 496 Linked In connections… Do I accept?

Don’t pretend you all haven’t been in this exact situation.  The lure of that magical number… The thrill of your name coming up in Linked In searches across the globe reading…

Connections                      500+ connections

The freedom to write in your headline – Craig Watson (322,650+ connections)   even if the reality is you only have 502 – is extremely tempting…. But at what cost?

I guess it is the age old question of quality versus quantity.  What’s more important to you as an individual, and what’s important to your broader network?  And, my opinion is pretty simple.  If you wouldn’t add this person to your work based database, why would you add them to your Linked In network?

Don’t get me wrong, I love building my numbers, Linked In, Twitter – PS.  If you like the blog please follow me on Twitter @recguruoz – It’s just that I also like to have focused, engaged and relevant network.

I was recently at a client meeting picking up a job order for an IT Recruitment Consultant…

‘So John, how do you measure your consultants outside of their billings?’ I asked.

‘Well Craig, they will have to make 20 telemarketing calls a week, interview 5 new candidates, and make 15 client introductions/referrals.  We also have introduced a really innovative KPI in line with our cutting edge social media strategy…’ I lean forward, hoping against hope to be inspired by a truly original measurement matrix… ‘Yes, we ask our consultants to grow their Linked In network by at least 100 connections a quarter…’

Really? I sit back – a little disappointed in what promised to be one of those rare recruitment epiphanies…

 ‘So, how do you check their new connections?’ I asked..Still holding on to a small glimmer of possibility that there was a quality check in place…

‘Well Craig, it’s pretty simple really.  At the end of each quarter when we have our formal review we ask for the consultants to log in to their Linked In home page in front of us, and we can see their total number.  Then we compare it to the last quarter’s figure…’  He spread his arms with a smile on his face, as if he had explained to me the meaning of life – hang on, there was more. ‘But I’ll have to swear you to secrecy,’ picture him giving me a conspirator’s wink, ‘We really don’t want our competitors getting wind of this – it keeps us ahead in the game’… 

This is one example of how recruiters are encouraged to cheapen the quality of their Linked In network by increasing their numbers.  Another, possibly more disturbing example below occurred during a telephone call with one of my clients…

‘Hi John, It’s Craig form Scott Recruitment here.  I was just following up on the candidate I sent through to you for your Engineering Resourcer role…’

‘Yes, Craig we are not going to proceed with Jack, we don’t think he is sufficiently experienced, or networked enough…’ What does he mean?? Jack has 3 years solid resourcing experience in the local market at one of their key competitors, with an enviable record of success!!!!

‘What do you mean, Jack has 3 years of very solid resourcing experience in the local market at one of your key competitors?  He has an enviable record of success and his salary expectations are below what you are willing to offer…’

‘Craig, his record is very good, and on paper he reads very well, but…’  But what??? That’s right but WHAT?  This had better be very good… ‘But, we had a look at his Linked In profile and he only has 387 connections.  Our policy is that all new employees must have at least 500 connections…’

So, where does that leave us?  Do we cheapen our personal and professional brand by whoring our Linked In profile all over the net, trawling for easy connections?  Perhaps catching all sorts of viruses from  profiles we don’t know? Do we leave ourselves open to the solicitation of the wider, and less scrupulous operators out there, littering you ‘Updates Stream’ with comment after mind numbingly boring comment that means nothing to you? 

Ask yourself this.  Does it improve your professional network by adding Dwayne, the recent high school drop out from Minnesota, whose only role has been flipping burgers at McDonalds for the past 3 months.  Dwayne may be very relevant to your professional network, and if he is – connect, but if he is not – why add him?

Or… Do we take control of our Linked In network and use it effectively?  Add people to your network that mean something to you as a client, candidate, prospect, mentor, advisor, business associate, supplier etc.?

My advice is be patient and strategic.  You will get your 500+ connections that are relevant to your profession.  It may take a little longer, but it will be far more meaningful…..

As a postscript, why not follow me on twitter @recguruoz  Craig, stop whoring your twitter attributes… Whoops did I say that out loud?…

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About Craig Watson rec-to-rec

My 15 years experience in the commercial recruitment industry has allowed me to form deep and successful networks. Until now the Rec2Rec industry has failed to deliver adequately to its clients. The simple solution is that I will respond to your specific business requirements by understanding them. My philosophy is less Rec2Rec and more Rec4Rec. In my Training and HR business I hve worked with some of the largest organisations in Asia Pacific - providing HR strategic consulting aligning people and culture needs with commercial requirements. I have a proven background in Rec2Rec, HR Strategic Management, Career Training and Recruitment, Senior Management (National Level) with extensive People Management and Training/Mentoring experience. Over a career spanning 15 Years I have gained my experience at HMS (UK), Adecco, Hallis, Drake, Accel and most recently my own venture - HeadStart. I am at cutting edge of Rec2Rec, Training, HR and Recruitment best practice - with additional experience in Organisational Development, Retention, Reward and Recognition Initiatives. In the current recruitment industry landscape of various cultures, expectations and job descriptions, allow me to help you in navigating your next career move. I have consulted to leading organisations as to HR solutions strategy across a breadth of industries - aligning expectation with reality.
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8 Responses to Linked In Whore… Or, ‘Welcome to the 500+ club…’

  1. Ben Roberts says:

    At the risk of giving away my secrets(!!), there is some benefits to adding connections that would not immediately look like people you’d want in your network. The key thing with LinkedIn to me is the extended network – does adding someone that works as a chemical engineer directly help me? On the face of things no – i don’t recruit in the engineering space. The reality is though that the person is probably connected to a recruiter that is a specialist in the engineering space – now this person is of interest to me. Call it piggy backing, networking mugging – whatever its official name is, there is huge benefits to having people in your network for the simple case of having access to their network. I would say that 95% of people that ask to connect to you will have someone in their network that is worth having a connection too – the key then is too get the 2nd/3rd level connections as 1st level connections.

  2. Hi Ben, Agreed to an extent. If the person was a chemical engineer in say, Eritrea the odds of them having a relevant recruiter in their network are pretty slim…Different if they are in your local market, or in a market where you want ot source from. With the searching functionality and access to Inmail I have found it much easier to map and directly contact than going through 2nd and 3rd level connections… But then again, if we all did the same thing we wouldn’t have points of differentiation!!!! Cheers Craig

  3. Matthew says:

    Great article, Craig. LinkedIn seems to be different things to different people – for some it’s a place to grow their network and market their professional identity as widely as possible regardless of quality, whereas those on the other side of the spectrum seem content to use it to link to the 8-10 people with whom they have strong professional relationships.

    Two things come to mind when thinking about this ‘build to 500+ as quick as you can’ mentality. First, by doing this, what message are you sending the high-value links in your network, who are forced to see your constant linking to random strangers clog up their newsfeed? And second, does treating LinkedIn like a trashy playground for the network marketing types increase or decrease the likelihood of participation by the ‘fringe dwellers’, who are thinking of participating but not yet sure what to make of LinkedIn? I think if we want high-quality people to want to use LinkedIn, we need to use it in a way that respects its signal-to-noise ratio.

  4. Hi Matthew, thanks for the comment. To be honest I think the signal-to-noise ratio in Linked In is pretty good as opposed to the Facebooks and Twitters of the world… (I know these are more social than professional, but by comparison…). We probably need a little scope and the ‘high-value/high-quality’ contacts you speak need to be sure that snobbery doesn’t get in the way of networking. And we, as recruiters and networkers need to ensure we don’t treat Linked In like a ‘trashy playground… It’s a balancing act that’s for sure!!!!

  5. Great article Craig, very well written. I think one of the things you actually uncover here is the simple fact that the vast majority of recruiters / recruitment organisations don’t really know how to use it effectively.

    Yes, connections are important but as you quite rightly state they shouldn’t be built up in a mad rush and certainly shouldn’t be utilised as a KPI. Remember the days when consultants were targeted on making 100 cold calls a week to prospective clients, it worked for some, but many just found it a total waste of time and as such still achieved targets but 90% of their calls were totally random with no thought, no planning, no research. The same applies to Linkedin.

    If Linkedin is going to be a encouraged as an activity in the work place it needs to be done properly. I like the idea of people in the same organisation having a standardised company introduction for example. It then becomes an extension of the website and all the other social media. You can still have individuality in the content and personal aspects but having a professional approach to company content is good.

    Organisations also need to have a Standard Procedure for things like inmail content, invitation to connect content and so forth. They need to have policies on the use of groups, discussions and so on. The best thing about all of this is that the actual group participation undertaken when initially creating that policy and those contents for inmails for example is that it is in itself a learning and skills development process. Group discussion about what does and does not work in inmails, group discussion about what should and should not be in the Company Profile. The best bit of course comes when everyone moves forward to develop their policies and user guidances. All the time they are learning as individuals and then you bring all of that learning together in your development meetings.

    I have trained a lot of people on how to use and maximise the benefit of linkedin over the years, but have always left them with the desire to explore, to test, to try new things. Many recruitment companies think you can bring in a Linkedin Coach and hey presto! It doesn’t work like that. You need to enthuse, encourage and engage your consultants. They will come up with ideas, concepts, and results that your Linkedin Coach will never dream of.

    • Hi Darren, Thanks for your thoughts. Linked In is an amazing tool, and although it has been around for a number of years, it really is beginning to make its mark … I don’t pretend to know all about Linked In, or even how best to use it, but given the cold call KPI’s of the past, we recruiters now have our chance to use a tool in a responsible and pro-active way,, Hopefully helping to give our industry the credability it craves…

  6. Christabella says:

    Hi I believe that the vision behind Linkedin is to allow the networking community to decide how they they use this platform. The majority of people using linkedin are intelligent and well versed in understanding how best this medium can be used to benefit them. These platforms require new thinking not everyone who wants to connect will be right for you, however you can make that judgement call. Personally I think everyone in the great scheme of things is of some importance. Good old fashioned networking is based on offering something long before you ask for something in return. At the end of the day you don’t know who is connected to who. Give something and I believe something they may need will come back to you. Change your mindset please.

    • Thanks for your comment Christabella, but I couldn’t disagree with you more. To think that ‘everyone in the great scheme of things is of some importance…’ is in my opinion a little short-sighted. Everybody needs to have objectives in mind for their network and build them accordingly. If the objective is to have the biggest generic network available – yes accept all invitations. If you are trying to build a more relevant, and deep, rather than wide network, you may have to be a little more ‘choosy’
      Cheers
      Craig

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