I think we have all heard the line ‘LinkedIn is just recruiters trying to sell me their services’ or ‘LinkedIn is just recruiters hounding me about jobs I don’t want’
I was recently training a recruiter on how to use LinkedIn and my basic advice was to be the least like a recruiter as possible. In fact, don’t even mention recruitment. Don’t be THAT person that sees LinkedIn as a tool for finding people to cold call or inmail with that old school scatter gun approach.
I used to be a recruiter, I am now an employer. I have been a technical specialist ripe for headhunting. I am now a social media agency owner. I specialise in LinkedIn marketing – the holy grail of recruiters.
I have clients that are recruitment agencies. I work closely with the Institute of Recruiters. I train recruitment consultants on how to run their career as a ‘business within a business’ and the importance of their on and offline network. Hell even some of my friends are recruitment consultants!
So I feel somewhat compelled to share some of my quick wins to using LinkedIn to Be Less Recruiter. The incessant cold call / email approach and aggressive close does work – that is why it is the main technique of the main players but if you have the support of your boss to try another way, this is your opportunity to change perceptions of your industry, to gain a serious competitive edge and ultimately create long lasting, quality relationships that will be yours forever. Even (whisper it) if you ever decide to move on or go it alone.
There are a million things I could show you, but lets start with the basics. Put yourself in the shoes of your target market – the client, and ask yourself ‘will I connect with this person?’
Professional head shot please (cost about £50 – use it across all your social media platforms forever. Well, until your kids start saying ‘you don’t even look like that picture any more mum’ like mine do). And smile. Look happy to be living life. Not so happy you are sh*tfaced at V Festival after 3 days with no sleep though.
‘Consultant at XYZ Agency’ – ‘So what?’ And ‘AAARGH A RECRUITER’ are the main responses to seeing this pop up in your connection request box. Also bear in mind some people (ahem, me) only look at the drop down in the little +Person at the top right, and your name and headline will be the decision maker, not the beautifully crafted approach email. Suggest something along the lines of ‘Delivering the Best Talent to Help You Grow’ with your 3 key disciplines following. You have more space than you think. Use it. Use the stars, diamonds and quirky little emoticons wisely. Like not at all.
This is absolutely the most important piece of your profile after the headline. Use it to NOT talk about what you have done, what you do, what you can do just use it to clearly and simply give compelling reasons to connect or any other Call To Action. Put your phone and email details high up in this section. No offence but some clients may not want the long deep relationship (i.e. give you an in to constantly inbox them) but will pick up the phone to ask you directly if you can help them. Make it easy for them.
Links to any SlideShare presentation you or your company have done (LinkedIn bought SlideShare so they love it) and articles you have written or contributed to plus any videos. Google loves videos. Or even videos that talk about your industry or your outlook in your career. This is your chance to showcase what you are about and how keyed into your industry you are.
Identifying and approaching your key contacts
I advise a targeted list of 10 key decision makers a week. Find out everything there is to know about these people. Investigate their activity on LinkedIn, twitter, G+ and google them to the max. Who do they know? What have they been doing recently? Any news, awards, comments, articles that may indicate something you can help with. Work out how you may be able to help them. Keep that at the forefront of your mind. Read and comment on their articles, share their interesting news with your own network and view their profile regularly. They will see your face begin to pop up in their periphery.
When you decide to make an approach craft an approach email that is very short and to the point, but clearly shows you admire and respect them and have taken time to do some research. Ask for a connection to grow your network and ask for some advice, not in any way to do ‘business’ or ‘show how you can help’ or (my least favourite ‘arrange a convenient time to call and introduce myself’ – i.e the call, meeting, close process starter) or anything else that sounds salesy or recruity. Read it out loud from their perspective – do you sound like an idiot? Does it make sense? Imagine you are looking to recruit an assistant. Would you connect with you?
If they accept – say thanks, ask your question, and wait. Leave them well alone. You have achieved the connection, it is not the potential clients problem that you have targets to hit or the ‘perfect candidate’ for them. Leave them alone, be less recruiter.
If they don’t – keep stroking their ego by commenting and sharing their work. They may not even be that active on LinkedIn so bear that in mind – maybe it’s just you that has it running in the background. The connection request will have probably been emailed to them as well. Patience is a virtue. A tip I got from a recent event was to view their profile every few days, your face will keep popping up in their ‘people who viewed you’ and everyone hangs out in there now and again.
Away from identifying and making great connections don’t forget to actively use LinkedIn as a social media platform. Read my article here and apply it to building up your profile on here. Especially in your industry be seen to be interested in the latest developments, news and technology.
Write short interesting articles about how you view your industry and comment on others. Research and find interesting content and deliver it to your network via LinkedIn updates. Read your Pulse page daily and spend 5 minutes every morning engaging with the content and the influencers on there.
Make it your mission to do things differently and change the perception of recruiters on LinkedIn.
If you want bespoke, tailored advice to you and your specific industry please do get in touch. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org or give me an old fashioned call on 07807 912 721
Helen Pritchard is the owner of BlueSky Digital Marketing a social media agency supporting the recruitment industry www.blueskydigimarketing.co.uk