Q: In your last Ask Haley you talked about why a staffing firm should be on Twitter.  What about LinkedIn? 

A: Designed as a professional networking tool, LinkedIn currently has more than 42 million members in over 170 different industries in 200 countries and territories around the world.  According to LinkedIn, a new member joins approximately every second and executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members.  With those numbers, it’s safe to say that LinkedIn can be worth your time if invested the right way.

Unlike Twitter, the positive implications of using LinkedIn are much more straightforward.  Your professional network may be one of your most valuable assets as an individual and as a staffing company.  With LinkedIn, you can connect to other staffing firms like yours (that may have similar challenges), connect to colleagues you have worked with in the past, connect to your current clients and prospects, join groups, find talent, etc. 

When it comes to social media, LinkedIn can be your most powerful sales and recruiting tool.  Here are a few best practices for making LinkedIn work for your staffing firm:

Recruiting and prospect research.
With LinkedIn, finding and connecting to candidates and prospective clients can be easy if you know what to do.  Here are five ideas:

  1. Maximize your network.  With LinkedIn networks, bigger equals better. Think six degrees of separation.  The more people in your network, the more people you can access.  To build your network, connect with current and former clients and candidates, colleagues at former employers, alumni from schools you attended, and members of groups you join.
  2. Use the company search. As a prospecting tool, it’s a great way to find key executives who work for specific firms.  As a recruiting tool, you can use the company search to identify current and former employees in specific job functions.
  3. Use the people search tool to look for candidates based on keywords they’ve listed on their LinkedIn profile.  
  4. Use the group search tool to find organizations and networking groups of people with interests and experience that’s relevant to the types of prospects and candidates you are seeking.
  5. Ask for referrals.  If you have a tough job to fill, ask for referrals via your status, LinkedIn’s in mail email service, and by posting your jobs to appropriate groups.

Helpful hint: When selling or recruiting on LinkedIn, don’t be overly salesy.  It’s most appropriate to be professional and direct.  Also, be sure to let whomever you are contacting know why you are contacting them, how you found them, and what you’d lke them to do next.

Build your brand.
LinkedIn is a terrific tool for building your personal brand and reputation, as well as that of your company.  Here are three ideas for using LinkedIn for brand building:

  1. Build your credibility by asking for recommendations.  
  2. Become a thought leader by answering questions, sharing articles with groups you join, and asking questions. 
  3. Use your status updates to show off your expertise, drive people to your website, keep people informed of the events you attend and the organizations you support.

Keep an eye on the competition.
LinkedIn allows you to keep watch over your competition.  Use the company, people and question searches to see how they are sharing their expertise, where they are networking, and keep track of who they are hiring.

The ideas in this issue of Ask Haley are really the tip of the iceberg when it comes to leveraging the power of LinkedIn.  Here are two resources with more ideas on getting value from LinkedIn:

Guy Kawasaki’s article: 10 Ways to Use LinkedIn

Free LinkedIn Taining

Best regards,
David

Please connect with me on LinkedIn:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/davidsearns

And follow me on Twitter.  
http://twitter.com/DavidatHaley

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