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The Power of LinkedIn

29 May, 2014 By: Patrick Fitzpatrick, Human Capital Sales

I was recently in a discussion with a sales executive about recruiting sales reps through LinkedIn. It was his opinion that LinkedIn was an overused tool and would soon become just another social website with business flair. I couldn’t disagree more. LinkedIn has over 80 million members and is growing at a rate of one new member per second; with that kind of participation and growth, I think LinkedIn will be a valuable sourcing tool for a long time to come.  Here is a modality that gives a “resume” of sorts in a profile. You can get a really good idea of job history and length of employment in each position, as well as a sense of accomplishment on the part of the candidate, or an indication of “job hopping.”

As you read through the profile most members will have “recommendations” from others for positions they held in the past. Like references on a job application no one is going to accept a bad recommendation on their profile (each recommendation needs to be approved by the member before listing) but it gives you a feel for the member. Are they hard-nosed and analytical or do they approach their careers from a more humanistic standpoint? These recommendations are like a look “behind the curtain.”

As you scroll down the profile you will come to the member’s connections. Depending on the personality and the profession or a combination of both, they will have a lot of connections or they will be more selective.  A professional marketer for instance could have tens of thousands of connections others will have a handful.  The member can limit who sees his connections, but you can always see the connections that you share. The point here is you have the ability to check with any of the people you share to get an objective opinion on the candidate.

Members and all the people they are connected to share the same “Home” page. Obviously the more connections a member has the further reach the messages they post on their “Home” page will have. Any opportunities or messages posted get published on the “Home” page.  Members that “Like” the message will get it displayed on their “Home” and so on. A good post on LinkedIn that gets picked up is a like a Tweet that goes viral on Twitter.  What better way to get a job opportunity out to your business network?

Also, all communication amongst “connections” is free. Considering you can sort your connections by geographical location, industry, company, function and experience, this can be a powerful networking tool. The more “connections” you have the more powerful your network.

With so much information so readily available, why wouldn’t you want to search here for a prospective candidate?

For about $100 per month you can upgrade your LinkedIn account to “Talent Finder” which gives you 25 “In Mails” a month. An “in Mail” allows you to contact anyone in the system via an internal LinkedIn email. This gives you an opportunity to reach out to “passive” sales candidates in the system. A “passive” candidate is someone, not looking for an opportunity who is gainfully employed. Obviously, these are ideal candidates for a recruiter or hiring manager looking to improve productivity on his sales team.  You can sort and do searches by location, company, assignment and experience. You can get a good look at anyone who works for a competitor who has listed on LinkedIn. You can invite them to “connect” with you, which gives you the access to communicate with them directly for free.

This is also a terrific sales tool. A sales rep doing research on a target account can use these employee listings to build an organizational chart and target market to the executive level appropriate for his product or service. Reportedly, every CEO of the Fortune 500 has a presence on LinkedIn.

The protagonist in the recent New York Times bestselling non-fiction book “Flash Boys” used LinkedIn to figure out who the technical people were who set up the High Frequency Trading houses on Wall Street. He said that the employers would have been aghast at the private business information members shared openly on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn continues to expand and invest in itself. The wealth of information and the fact that it allows a confidential “social” contact to be made makes it ideal for recruiting, networking and marketing. As a professional executive recruiter I will tell you not only do you need a detailed, well written work history, but a business like profile picture on your profile page. Practically every hiring manager I send a candidate’s resume to asks if they have a presence on LinkedIn and then comment on the quality of the profile.  If anything, LinkedIn’s influence is growing, not receding.

Patrick Fitzpatrick is Managing Partner of Human Capital. For more information visit http://www.humancapitalsales.com or phone 864-979-1070.

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