I was reading an interesting post by John Ternieden with Insidesales titled 7 LinkedIn Mistakes That Kill Sales and realized that I am socially confused when it comes to LinkedIn. Is LinkedIn for Prospecting or Recruiting? I remember my first interactions with LinkedIn were similarly confusing as the concept of “social” was just coming of age. Confused or not, I signed up because I thought it was a good way to network and stay in touch with my business associates. Since I already knew them, I never saw it as a tool to be used for prospecting, but rather a way for them to share things about themselves that may not come up in the course of a business discussions. I would come to know these details via the updates and we would build a deeper relationship. Kind of like Wikipedia describes it. Little did I expect the interesting life cycle it has taken.
Here Come the Recruiters
Let’s face it, LinkedIn is a giant resume pool. You have job history, school history, honors, awards all in one place. All you need is a little search know-how and you have thousands of candidates for the picking. LinkedIn is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in a recruiters mind. I remember one recruiter friend who made it his mission to link to everyone who would link to him. Last I checked he was in the 1% LinkedIn Club (if there is such thing). I still get a kick out of meeting someone from a remote part of China and see they are connected to this guy. It did not take long to realize that if you were looking for a career change, it was in your best interest to have your profile up to date. After all it is your personal profile – right?
Salespeople Figure It Out
Ah, the creative sales types figure it out. I am one of them too, so don’t be offended. Now instead of calling the receptionist and asking the name of the COO, you simply look the company up on LinkedIn and KAPOWEE, there they are smiling at you – with all their personal details and work history on display for all to read. No more shallow “…oh what a great picture of your family…” comments needed. And not only can I see their profile, if I pay a little something each month to LinkedIn, I can send them a direct email. In fact they may think I am a recruiter and actually read the message! That, of course, is wishful thinking. Worst case is I can try to connect with them and get their email that way. Sales nirvana has arrived – ahhhh!
It’s Marketing Time
Who want’s to pay for a Yellow Pages ad and name their company AAAAA Plumbing, when you have millions of people in your target market right at your finger tips. You can get specific to title, location, size of the company, years of experience, etc. There are actually companies such as SalesLoft who specialize in mining LinkedIn data to get publicly available information and add their own secret recipes to fill in the data gaps. As a marketing type myself, again I think it is awesome. I think the marketing aspects of LinkedIn are yet to be fully exploited. Stay tuned to see where that one goes.
Well, LinkedIn for Prospecting or Recruiting?
It beats me… In reality it is probably neither or both. LinkedIn is all about business people putting themselves out there. Tell your story. Tell your interests. Turn down invites if you are not interested. Connect if you are. On a more personal note, if you think there is value in connecting TELL ME WHY YOU WANT TO CONNECT! I won’t promise you’ll get the connection, but you certainly stand a better chance than if you use the generic introduction provided.
If we focused less on labeling or staging it for one specific purpose and realize LinkedIn can and should be an incredible business networking tool, we may be able to save it from the “…yeah I used to use it…” technology bone pile.