LinkedIn – The Social Network of Business
By Doug Seville
If you are seeking decision makers who have the power to buy your products, partner with you, or employ you, LinkedIn is the place to be.
The official launch date of LinkedIn was May 5, 2003 and, as reported, there were 4,500 members by the end of the first month. It was around this time that my co-worker, co-conspirator, and good friend, Kari Van Dyke (permission granted) sent me an invitation to connect. LinkedIn, at the time, was known as a place where professionals could connect with each other for networking purposes and, originally, it really was not known as a tool used by recruiters or salespeople.
Initially, I was not actively using the LinkedIn account that I had created in 2003 and, forgetting my password, I created a new account on Feb 23, 2004. I officially became, with my new account, LinkedIn member number 528,621 (How I know this) and I reconnected with Kari on May 14, 2004.
At the time Kari and I both worked for DBM, a leading Human Resources/Outplacement consulting firm, and “networking” was very much an activity that we promoted within our client population for them to engage in. I created a popular newsletter for our clients, (entitled “Shifting Gears”), and created a LinkedIn group by the same name. (The group still exists to this day however has a very modest cadre of only 670 members and is quite inactive).
Degrees of Separation
LinkedIn, at that time, showed more degrees of separation than it does today. Based on the principle of Six Degrees of Separation the site made it quite easy to connect with people who were much further than three degrees away. However, connecting with people required each person in the chain to pass the message along, from initiator to the end recipient. Eventually, LinkedIn narrowed the degrees of separation and, eventually, offered premium accounts to facilitate direct communication between individuals.
LinkedIn was acquired my Microsoft in 2016 and, today, the platform has more than 740 million users from 150 countries. (Source) My, individual, personal network has grown to over 24,000 individuals, which is a crazy number, however very useful from a recruitment perspective.
LinkedIn has slowly grown to be the number one tool used by the recruitment industry. I recall, around 2007, having a discussion with a recruiter acquaintance of mine and he asked me, “Hey, have you found LinkedIn to be useful in finding people”? I remember replying in the affirmative, however the old school methods of recruitment (calling companies, combing the database, posting ads) still were the main sources of candidates. By the early 2010’s this had totally changed, and LinkedIn became the primary source of candidates for all recruitment firms. In fact, recruiters very seldom cold-call companies seeking out candidates and prefer using LinkedIn over their own internal databases.
Of those LinkedIn users who are frequently engaging with the platform, 40% access it daily, clocking up over 1 billion interactions every month. However, LinkedIn is used sparingly, so you only have a few minutes to make an impact. Users only spend about 17 minutes on LinkedIn per month. According to the Pew Research Center 2018 Social Media Use study, LinkedIn remains popular with college students. Further research into these LinkedIn statistics revealed that 50% of college graduates in the US are LinkedIn users, while the site engages with only 9% of people whose education does not surpass high school. Source
Not Everyone is on LinkedIn
There have been moments over the past few years where I have thought to reconnect with people from my past, such as friends from high school, former co-workers, even family members (in conjunction with Ancestry.com), and I have been amazed at how many people simply do NOT have a LinkedIn account.
In fact, many of my own family members do not have a LinkedIn profile, including two brothers-in-law (both university professors), a sister-in-law (a medical professional), a daughter (a CPA designated accountant), and my sister (an IT project manager).
In addition, there are many people who have allowed their LinkedIn profiles to become old and dated and some people, sadly, have passed away and nobody has alerted LinkedIn to remove their profile.
Think of the people in your life who have never set up a profile on LinkedIn.
Recruitment is an Art
A good recruiter knows how to use many tools at their disposal and LinkedIn is only one of them. Sourcing good candidates, engaging with them, creating a positive and productive dialogue regarding their careers, and presenting opportunities that arise from any of our Chicago office and Boston office clients is much more than simply than clicking on a profile and sending an inMail through LinkedIn. The process of recruitment is truly an art.
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If your company is seeking to recruit for a key position, such as CEO, COO, President, VP or other senior level role, have a conversation with DSML Executive Search (contact) to ensure your search includes a “through process” and “success based” strategy.