Speaking for myself, I have spent countless hours in webinars and tele-seminars and in experimentation with all the features of LinkedIn. They make changes to the features and I’m there. I’m sure that it’s much the same for many of us, trying to keep up with the advances that technology offers to make our recruiting efforts easier.
We have all been conditioned to have an active LinkedIn account. Clients can read all about how wonderful you are. Candidates can read all about you, too. You use LinkedIn to build your credibility.
What does it mean to have an active LinkedIn account?
Networking. You invite people to connect to you and hope that you receive invitations to connect. You send and accept invitations from all the employees of your clients. You also connect with your placed and place-able candidates. You hope to connect with all of your clients and candidates – past,-present and future. You send invites to connect with everyone who may have a positive impact on the success of your desk – potential clients and recruit-able candidates.
Your first level connection list is starting to read like a database.
If not handled right, your social media connection list can and will be used by every other competing recruiter. You do the work and they reap the reward.
At first glance, it seems like a good idea to have all your best connections on LinkedIn because it makes for quick and easy communication. You don’t have to leave endless voicemail messages every month to keep your name out there. You can advance your popularity by sending valuable, relevant information via messaging on LinkedIn. You can engage in virtual conversation and answer questions, quickly and easily.
Yet, your client list and your candidate recruiting efforts are now PUBLIC. For the entire world to see. Your competitors not only have instant access to a comprehensive list of who you work with but they have the contact information to reach out and connect themselves.
In researching this article, I spoke to several recruiters about how they use LinkedIn. I spoke to a 20 year veteran recruiter who has recently completely deleted his LinkedIn account. That’s pretty drastic and may not be a good use of the available technology. But he is so afraid of losing his clients and candidates to the competition that he felt that this was his best option. His connection list did read like a database as he only accepted and invited clients and candidates that were specific to his niche. Without using social media, he will continue to recruit and place candidates the way he always has. And his business development and client communications will continue to be by telephone.
I spoke to another recruiter who seems to be an exact opposite and is a total open book. He is a total believer in the power of LinkedIn and in the strength of the virtual relationships that he is building. He is a LION, an active LinkedIn networker with over 500 first level connections. He doesn’t worry about gaining and losing clients due to pilfering on LinkedIn. He believes in being seen constantly and everywhere – quantity over quality. Every day, he posts discussions on the groups that he is a member of (you can join a maximum of 50 groups).
The third, more moderate recruiter has a connection base that is so varied that a competitor would have a hard time discerning who his best clients and candidates are. He, too, is a LION and his online philosophy is that there is no real loyalty from anyone’s clients or candidates and that they will always do what is right for themselves. He says that he has had a lot of success in keeping his best clients and candidates because he strategically sends valuable, insightful and relevant information directly to them via LinkedIn messaging. He’ll find a blog post or article of interest within his niche, then select strategically from his connection list to send it to. He does not send direct promotions of his services but rather its information that his audience would find of value.
There has never been true exclusivity in recruiting that did not come with a solid relationship. Social media doesn’t change that. These three completely different views on how to use LinkedIn, each has valid concerns and ideas. There is no right or wrong way to make use of social media. You have to do what’s best for you. Though it seems obvious from these interviews, you should dilute your connection list so that it does not read like a database. Make it harder for your competitors to infiltrate your client list and your recruitable candidate list.
On the plus side, maybe you should check out your competitor’s connection list before they catch on….