LinkedIn Bullhorn Group B.S. - Ethics Question "Global Staffing Leaders"

I'm not a huge LinkedIn user. I have my own reasons; one being that I see them as a potential major competitor (all of us in the ATS/Recruiting business should be wary of them) but another being that I just don't have that much bandwidth between Facebook (which I really must use for family and friends) and email (which is how I do most of my work). In regards to our sales reps, we say to use whatever tools they think will move them forward-

Anyway, here is the situation: There is a LinkedIn group called "Global Staffing Leaders" that includes a number of our customers and connections. The group rules limit participation to "Professionals employed by a growing staffing or recruiting firm" So far so good- no worries if vendors are kept out since we can be a hassle with all of our spinning and promoting and doing what vendors do etc.

But then one of our reps sezs to me, "hey, this group is run by a Bullhorn exec and has other Bullhorn execs as members" I say "wow, that's a pretty good racket they have going on there. Free run to thought-lead (!) whenever they wish, firewalled from any other competitive viewpoint. "

So I say to my rep, why don't you try and join the group and lets see if they really are going he does. Here is the email exchange between my rep and the group leader:

On 04/08/10 7:03 AM, (our rep) wrote:

Still waiting for your answer. I am not here to hard sell- I have a number
of clients in this group, and figured I could contribute.

Date: 4/08/2010 (Gruop leader wrote)

Subject: RE: [Global Staffing Leaders] I would like to join Global Staffing

Group: Global Staffing Leaders


It's nice to meet you. I apologize for not getting back to you on this
sooner, but I have been swamped. Below I have included the membership
requirements for this group. As I'm sure you can understand, aside from
yourself, there have been several membership requests from other
product/service providers who market to the staffing industry. At this time,
we are limiting group membership to the requirements below. If anything
changes, I'll let you know.

Group Mission/Requirements
The mission of the Global Staffing Leaders LinkedIn Group is to share and
advance the knowledge base of staffing and recruiting executives worldwide.
Through the communication of news, events, industry trends and challenges,
this group is committed to the competitive professional development of its
members, and the industry as a whole.

Requirements to be considered for this group:

*Professionals must be employed by a growing staffing or recruiting firm
*Professionals must hold a senior-level executive/management position within
their organization

*Note: Reporters, industry bloggers and event managers are welcome to join
the group to communicate about media and speaking opportunities.

*Note: There is no hard selling allowed in this group. If you are reported
for selling to group members, your group membership will be terminated.



Our rep then follows up with:
Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2010 12:14 PM
Subject: RE: [Global Staffing Leaders] I would like to join Global Staffing

I'm a little surpised and taken aback by your position on this, you
yourself being a vendor. May I prevail upon your sense of fair play to
make an exception for me ?
And now:
So my question to the world: is this cool ? do we have to start a similar LinkedIn group and exclude other vendors in order to accomplish the same ends ?
Should vendors be allowed to start groups and exclude other vendors ?

Is this an ethical play on behalf of Bullhorn ? Are there other groups of this nature being run ?

Is this similar to hijacking blog threads and otherwise doing the Q-ship routine where many members are not aware that they are in a group created and run by and primarily for a vendor's well-being ?

Views: 200

Comment by Omowale Casselle on April 12, 2010 at 1:07pm
Seems like a pretty savvy move on the part of your competitor. I would imagine that there are several other groups started and managed for the explict purpose of establishing thought leadership around specific areas of interest to key members of a community. It is tough to strike a balance between providing overall value and pushing specific company solutions. But, if they are effective their job of engaging prospective customers should be much easier. However, if they lose the trust of the community; then members will bolt and they have the potential to suffer a loss of credibility.

This question you posed has a lot of parallels to the post, Dr. John posted over on today "Interact or Your Talent Competitors Will"
Comment by Martin H.Snyder on April 12, 2010 at 1:18pm
But really, whats the savvy part ? Not using their name in the group title ?

Refusing membership to people who work for other vendors ?

We can think of lots of ways to be "savvy" too- but that's the point of the post......
Comment by Omowale Casselle on April 12, 2010 at 1:46pm
Not using their name is savvy yes. Refusing membership to competing vendors is also savvy. Targeting senior level executives/managers (i.e. decision makers) is savvy. Developing a mission statement, content, and marketing strategy that has resulted in almost 700 members joining in one month is savvy.

Basically, I don't think they are doing anything deceptive or unethical by creating a LinkedIn group focused on their target industry. Anyone of the professionals invited to join the group can click on the name of the group owner and see that a member of their team runs the group. If they have a problem with a vendor running this type of group, then they don't have to join. Or, if they find later that the group doesn't deliver on the value promised; they can leave the group.
Comment by Brian Meeks on April 12, 2010 at 2:02pm
I have to agree with Omowale Casselle. It reminds me of when I used to play softball. There was always one giant guy on the other team, that if you threw him the ball, he would hit a home run. He used to complain about being walked. He was loud, called it a 'cheap' way to play, and acted like we were cheating somehow. I was always offended. Apparently he thought that using a reasonable strategy to try to give us a chance of winning, was somehow 'bull'.

Yes vendors should be allowed to create groups just like everyone else.

Yes this is an ethical play.

I don't know if there are others.

I feel that they are doing a good job of marketing.

I enjoyed the post though, you are a good writer. Sorry I couldn't agree with your position.
Comment by Recruiting Animal on April 13, 2010 at 9:48am
They are wily, Beadle, and you did get slapped in the puss. But New York has two baseball teams. And I see from this article that you're ready to go rogue.
Comment by Martin H.Snyder on April 13, 2010 at 10:00am
Animal you are inimitable.

This is the same issue with hijacking threads- arms race and all that. If they do it, should we match step for step ?

At least the rest of America hate the Yankees.

Going Rogue indeed, You Betcha ! We already have Plan 9 established for this little skirmish. My puss won't ache for long ;-)
Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 13, 2010 at 11:10am
It's been my experience in both recruiting and politics that wasting time bad mouthing the competition not only wastes productive sales time it calls attention to the fact that someone is eating your sack lunch. The basic rule in politics is never but never name the competition, somebody may not have ever heard of them until you mentioned their name.

Instead of trying to match what you don't like how about coming up with something new and out executing so they start bitching about you and call attention to the fact that you are taking the meat off their sandwich. :)
Comment by Martin H.Snyder on April 13, 2010 at 11:42am
Hi Sandra,

Aside from the fact that I think this LinkedIn group thing is a sleazy play, on your direct point, I dont think I could answer it any more exactly than this link does, to the very letter:

In any case, I would be surprised if we lost any business due to this group thing- it's more of a symbolic thing IMHO.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 13, 2010 at 1:10pm
LOL. Doubt you will lose anything either . However to your point with the King. Has the ATS business reached the fast food level? :)


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