Follow up to Building a Linkedin Network.

Originally posted in April 2008 to my personal blog on
http://htcresearch.blogspot.com

I was asked a few questions so here is the follow up.
1) When is it big enough? Dunno haven't found out yet, I certainly do not see any downside from have a huge network. We find tons of candidates off Linked in every day. As HTC is a research firm it has become extremely valuable to us. I can't/won't day exactly how many candidates per week we are getting from Linkedin but I can tell you it is significantly more than it was a year ago. We have completely revamped our search processes internally in the past 6 months. We have found it to be much more cost effective to first locate a canddiate or two (Manager let's say) on Linkedin and the pull the group via phone or check a candidates profile before phone screening for a specific client. I can't say it's replaced any of my other techniques but I can say it's augmented them and made them much more efficient. But Linkedin isn't perfect either. There is a lot of "bad" and "old" information on there. Linkedin may make a better financial model for a research firm as opposed to a recruiting firm or staffing department. Also ,we just don't sell the names we find off Linkedin, we actually use it as a starting point, an easier way to get additional names out of the target.

2) It take about 5 hours a week to manage. I don't actually search for candidates as I have a team of people doing that. I did not pay for Linkedin until I needed another way to add connections. In March I purchased the 1 year subscription so I can add people using inmail and referrals etc. up until then I did it all for free so the ROI was infinite. Even with the paid subscription at $400 a year it paid for itself in the first hour after I bought the subscription.

3) I joined Linkedin about 4-5 years ago and did nothing until Sept 2007. Up to that point I think I had about 100 first level contacts, so a majority of my network has been added since the beginning of the new year. At the end of Dec 2007 I had about 2000 first levels and today I have 4300. Everyone's network will be different but at 1000 I had 2.5 million total, at 2000 I had 6 million, at 3000 approx 8.5 million, and at 4300 as of this am I have about 10,390,000.

I think the rest of your post really revolves around whether you should spend the time to build it or not. Will Linkedin implode? Will you loose value in connecting your candidates to your clients to your vendors? I worried about the same thing at first and then realized it was a moot argument at this point. One can not predict what will happen in the future but I know my company has benefited tremendously from having access to the information on Linkedin and next we're going to conquer Facebook and Myspace and on and on. Should you build your network? Overwhelmingly my answer would be Yes. Why cause the risk of not building and being left behind is too great, because my network also grows and we're connected on our first levels:-) and because it's a great resource of previously unavailable information that grow exponentially every month. By not building your network do you think that will stop your clients and candidates from connecting to others the only thing you'll do is loose contact with them. I could go on and on with examples but suffice it to say in my opinion as far as social networking goes, if you're not riding the wave now you'll be sucking on foam later on down the road:-) And if you only add 25-50 new connections a week that's still a HUGE network after 1 year!

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