Linking to clients? Are you kidding? One reason you might do it... (and it maybe the only one)

I have struggled with this paradox for years. What to do when a recruiter or HR person at my client reached out to "link-in" to me. I always accept them, but as I do I go through the long list of reasons why I think it is a bad idea. I think to myself, I will live to regret this, they will just cut me out of the loop one day, I need to keep my data private....

Well, I just paid a visit to one of those clients yesterday and what she said made it all worthwhile...

"I try sourcing candidates from LinkedIn once in a while, but every single software engineer I find on LinkedIn is someone you already have in your network, you just know everyone!"

This was the nicest thing she could have said to me!

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I do not accept invitations on LinkedIn from outside recruiting agencies I work with or even don't work with. I am skeptical of allowing them access to all the people I am connected to at my company.
I have chosen not to allow direct access to my network. Although, as I understand Linked In, those in my network can do searches and identify clients or candidates that are in my network...
I never link with other recruiters. I've actually been burned in the early days of Linked-In when recruiters would ask to link and then ask for a free referral. When I said, 'no", they said they would just go around me anyway.
Hi Julia, Thanks for posting this it is a very good topic as it comes up often in discussions with my recruiter friends at happy hour here in Tampa.

In my 12.5 years of experience I’ve learned from the best recruiters that they see the world in abundance and would not restrict connecting with anyone. Connecting is a 2 way street.

Also I would add that you need to view building your network from a long term perspective. Perhaps today other recruiters might be your competition but what if a few years from now you decide to compile all of your recruiting experiences into a product or book to help fellow recruiters learn from, well then you would need to have a network full of recruiters. Your LinkedIn network is a lifetime asset, and your goals will change many times over your lifetime.

My philosophy is everyone deserves a chance (to connect) until proven otherwise.

Along those same lines I recommend not being serendipitous about forwarding invites. It is not your job to be a gate keeper for your friends and contacts. How can you presume to know who I might want to connect with? What is the worst that can happen? If the introduction/message is something I didn’t want then I just take 3 seconds to delete it.

PS - If you agree with these philosophies please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Greig Wells
Independent Recruiter
I have an attitude similar to Greig's. I connect with everyone, show connections on my profile and forward all requests. (I am also happy to share ways I look for candidates.) I think helping others pays off in the end.

Also, having a large LinkedIn network is certainly a good thing when one is looking for people. My direct connections are approaching 10K (especially thanks to Dave Mendoza who put me on his list this week) and the total connections are near 20 million. If I were picky about accepting invitations I wouldn't be able to search and see profiles within such a large network.
Some people restrict their network and then have to pay money to LinkedIn to find and reach others.
That said, it's an individual choice, of course. I do not think there's right or wrong here.

We work a smaller market, hence I hesitate to put all my contacts on my linked in network, much too public for a niche recruiter in a second tier market.

Food for thought, either way works.
Accept all invitations but keep your network private...
Hi Julia!

Smart recruiters, retain smart clients. Your client said it best; you're the connection they need!

You're the one with the relationship and let's face it your clients don't really need your "connection" to get through to your links. All cleints need is a connection with a few of those power-networkers who are linked to everyone and wah-lah, your decision to approve or not to approve doesn't really matter - if that's the direction your client is moving towards (eliminating you from the proccess).

I've given up trying to micromanage my connections and analyze the potential loss at risk. I've had way more gained from linkedin then lost. Infact I've had MY clients say to me as a researcher and them as recruiters that I should try looking at their 2nd & 3rd connections for potential leads. Your clients should stick to what they do best, let you handle the rest and do the recruiting!

Congrats on the success with your client, it's always great to hear nice feedback like that.

I hear you on this one, Madison is a small city too & sometimes feels extremely small.

We work a smaller market, hence I hesitate to put all my contacts on my linked in network, much too public for a niche recruiter in a second tier market.

Food for thought, either way works.
Connecting on LinkedIn is a two-way stream - definitely!

A smart recruiter does not need to "see" who you are connected to in order to find the individuals they need. If I can't get to "John Doe" as a 2nd connection through you, he is probably my 3rd connection through someone else. And if I am smart - which I would like to believe I am ;-) (JD, does that count as part of the RecruitSmart contest?) - I will not try to reach out to John Doe through you, but pick up the phone and directly call him.

If I am connected to a client, I probably now have their employees, and a few of their ex-employees in my connection as well, whether 2nd or 3rd connections... Their ex-employees are potential candidates for me now, and their present employees, potential candidates in the future (if they leave my client's company, or if I no longer have a relationship with this client)

Nothing, however, can outdo the compliment that your client gave you, and it shows that the reason the client decided to do business with you, Julia, is because you know their industry/market. Kudos to you!
I have had similar feelings to all of your views on here at one point or another. The bottom line? LinkedIn provides people with names they did not have easy access to before whether they are a competitor or a client. Lists of names are getting cheap though and whether you are an internal recruiter or work for an agency, it takes time to sift through the lists to get the valuable information.

Knowing how to contact the people, establishing relationship, and actually getting to know the people? That is time consuming and what I consider a real service.

Having your clients think you are omniscient in your niche?

This is a recurring theme I hear from people all the time. I don't want other people "stealing my__________" clients or candidates is usually the most common response. But think of this. This all stems from a fear of loss a lack of approval, security and or control. Here are some other ways to overcome this fear.

A) Grow your network. A larger network as a whole is much less about the individual connections and more about the depth of the network. It relies more on quality can be found in quantity theory and offers the added benefit of "screening" hiding valuable relationships.

B) Make sure you keep those relationships solid by staying in communication. Recruiting is and has also been about relationships. Ourclients don't use us because I'm the cheapest they use us because we have a relationship with them and they trust we can get the job done.

C) You can't loose something that is not yours. Evaluate the actual "relationship" do you only call that customer to talk shop or do you also make it personal build rapport and a more solid foundation?

D) Not accepting invites does NOTHING to stop someone from seeing your connections. Say you take a stance that you are NOT going to accept invites from other recruiters, but the guy in the cube next to you who you are connected to (or anyone else in your network for that matter) does accept the invite, guess what they can see who you are connected to. There's a block on the right column called "How you’re connected to" which shows you all the potential ways you are connected to a person. OK fine you just (in effect) moved them to your "second level" but they still have full access to your most important connections because I guarantee you others are not taking that same stance and they will be able to reach that connection via another connection. So who's network are you really stopping( that's right your own)

Now though I accept all invites I must admit that I do NOT forward all requests. Example I had a candidate ask me to forward a resume of a candidate to a client for a position which I was working on with the client. Yea obvious conflict of interest there. I can't take money out of my own pocket. I simply replied to the candidate that I had a conflict and that I couldn't forward.

Jeff Weidner

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