“We believe that in a global connected economy, your success as a professional and your competitiveness as a company depends upon faster access to insight and resources you can trust.”
When I first Joined LinkedIn – 4 Years ago I added every Professional contact I have worked with , had lunch with, played golf and squash with as well as folks I had met on study courses with over the last 10 – 15 years.. Wooow ... that gives me say about 350 (Trusted and perhaps not so trusted) professionals to start with. I make that statement in brackets because my goal was to plug into their networks (Trusted or not). This is where I break away from LinkedIn’s intended purpose of connecting with only your trusted professional contacts.
As I started to build my network and with the launch of a new Recruitment Company and new recruitment model; I questioned, what would be wrong in adding every candidate we sourced for a particular client (No, not your existing database of candidates that apply to your company online or via email- there is a difference) into our LinkedIn Network also, lets take a further step and add all of our Clients and even a bolder move our competitors to our (not so trusted any more) network as well.
How does this help me, my partners, our Company:
a) LinkedIn has now become a Powerful Job board for my Recruitment team that is continually modified and fined tune to suit our recruitment needs – especially when you work in niche markets lets use HRIS (SAP, Peoplesoft,Consultants) If we add all consultants we have recruited with these specific skills particular to SAP HR, for example - I have just tapped into a niche group and the network of each of those individuals. I can only assume I have tapped into a ``Trusted`` Network. But trust me when I tell you that our delivery speed in providing that resource is increased tremendously and Peoplesoft and SAP Resources skills are difficult to source.
b) By adding your clients to your network – You get a chance to look at their past, study the background of that executive and more importantly learn how they are connected in their industry sector. You also have more info to extend your discussion–people are people regardless of titles and the more you have in common the easier it is to bond. Connecting with clients gives you a chance to map a Company and their connections also gives you an idea as to where your clients like to get their talent come from. If your client connection is an Internal HR contact you get a chance to tap in on who they are adding to their network - you also get a peep on recruiting activities not advertised the more info you have the better.
c) Now the big one why would I add my Competitors to my network of ``Trusted Professionals`` ? I know you are going to ask me, why would they accept my invitation ... As Professional Recruiters, we need to realize that a connection we have now may be needed in the future; my competitor might need a connection I have right now. In the end you are really measured on the “Direct Relationships” you have in the market place my competitor might be working with my client in say supporting them on helpdesk roles - where I might be supporting the same client on Financial Executive roles – should I feel threatened? I think not. Also, in the end, candidates belong to the “Public domain” they belong to no one and no one company.
Plugging into my competitors network gives me access to other target markets and strong source for candidates – I get to watch what is trending with my competitor, but he/she gets the same benefits plugging into my network.
We need to keep in mind that we live in a very connected virtual world, who knows you may not be in the same industry in 5- 10 years from now – I don’t think the Creators of LinkedIn wanted this great Social Media Business network to be used in this way – but if you had some time to study the Social Media World ,tools that started out with a particular purpose don’t always serve the same purpose for its users who in the end will steer the direction as to how that tool will be used in the market place sometimes creating new undiscovered trends and markets.
I know quite a few people will outright disagree with my unorthodox use of this great SM Business networking tool we call LinkedIn. I would love to hear your thoughts.
But I do believe that it unequivocally "comes back" to any recruiter who uses it in the way you described.
Good work, Paul!