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Over the past few months I have seen Facebook based apps/platforms (BranchOut, Talent.me, Monster’s BeKnown to name the ones I have signed up for and been using/testing) being touted as serious competition to LinkedIn.
The core reasons these and other Facebook-based services are being given a good chance of success against LinkedIn is not their technology prowess or unique business-commercial model; rather they are positively viewed by pundits due to the fact that they are hosted on Facebook, the largest social network at 750 million users (plus).
It is certainly possible that these FB-based systems do have great systems or unique value propositions for its users. These however seem to only come second to the “fishing on the biggest pond” advantage.
There are a number of reasons as to why I am sceptic as to this argument. Mainly, I am reminded of how China was viewed as a market a decade (or perhaps more) ago. I clearly recall many sales, marketing and business development presentations introducing China as a market with 1.3 billion “consumers” (which is as you know their entire population, more or less).
Closer inspection, of course, showed the fallacy of counting every Chinese national as a consumer without recognising their purchasing power, whether they lived in rural areas, etc. The rise of the middle class in China is certainly bridging the gap but it is still necessary to look deeper to understand they real size of the market for specific products or services.
The Chinese Market (size) fallacy reminds me of the volume advantage of the Facebook-based applications better-than-LinkedIn chances of succeeding. Even if these platforms were to grow large, recruiters know well that volume does not automatically imply quality (which drives candidate place-ability).
I am certainly not prepared to write off LinkedIn on the basis on the volumes argument. I’d love for other companies to continue innovating and making it easier for people to find jobs and for recruitment professionals to add more value to their employers/customers. I think this battle will be fought on the basis of benefits and value. I certainly hope so.
With Google, I found like I never had before
With Blogger, I published like I never had before;
With LinkedIn, I networked like I had never before;
With Twitter I discovered like I never had before;
With Facebook I played like I never had before;
I am not sure what I am doing on G+ yet…
I posted more or less the same lines to G+ a few weeks back; fact is I am not using it regularly and there is no immediate or apparent reason to go to it in a hurry.
But this is not about Plus; it’s about me reaching 1000 connections on LinkedIn which, as you well know, has no intrinsic value. It is also about a couple of articles on the rise of LinkedIn and its impact on human/real connections:
– Rick Bookstaber’s “Ultimately LinkedIn Will Make Your ‘Weak Links’ Less Valuable”
– “The continuing devaluation of LinkedIn connections” by Ross Dawson
These pieces are not comparable straight away in as much as they are not addressing the same issue. Bookstaber’s post centers around network theory and how weak links need to remain ‘weak’ in order for societies to flourish and develop (whilst LinkedIn might be doing totally the opposite).
Ross’ article is about the bastardisation of the LinkedIn connection as more “strangers” approach you to link-in simply because -as per the system’s features- this is the only way to get in contact with a member. As a contrast, he references Facebook, where strangers can message you and you can “sus-out” people without a prior connection commitment.
The point of convergence for the articles was reaching the 1K connections mark, which prompted me to reflect on what happened to my way of doing business since joining LinkedIn. Some insights and personal experiences follow:
– I think I have done well in not connecting with every man and his dog just for the sake of increasing reach. Weak first degree connections that have no opportunity to strengthen are very much like those conference attendees whose business cards we hoard but whose face or pitch you cannot recall. You cannot help them and they cannot help you.
– Strong first degree connections off the system as well as those nourished in it after the initial contact have been extremely positive for repeat business. LinkedIn has proven to be an effective CRM; then again I don’t have thousands of clients or lots of staff that demand highly coordinated relationship processes.
– Almost every new customer I signed up is (or was at the time) a second degree connection linked to a strong first degree connection. At the same time, there is a huge chunk of second degree connections which are, to-date, strangers; however, more often than not, I have enough information to work out what their business needs and priorities might be. So, you know where my marketing efforts go.
– Third degree connections is uncharted territory; every now and then, I see little archipelagos (members who I know or can connect off the system) but they are rare. LinkedIn Signal might change that, but I am not a heavy user yet.
– Throughout the five 1/2 years of going with the biz, my marketing expenditure has been negligible. You might say I could be more/really successful if I had spent money. I think that if I had decided to have marketed more, I would have done more of the same (e.g. blogging more, increased participation on Groups, more presentations, videos, etc.) which is a resource with a cost but still imply no material disbursements of dollars.
– My cold calls on LinkedIn – inMails, connection requests via Groups – have had about a 30% success rate at the most. Success here is understood as having the chance at strengthening a relationship, so that 30% is looking not too hot, is it. I don’t believe the conduit was the culprit; rather, it was my inability to sell the connection request well enough.
About 10 years ago, a recruitment ‘big-wig’ told me something along the lines of “Jorge, you will never be able to accumulate the amount of business cards I have on my Rolodex”.
I am not exactly sure how he did business, but one thing LinkedIn has enabled me to do is to check thousands of ever-changing Rolodexes of people that I am not even directly related to. My future clients, employers, colleagues, employees are – more likely than not – living right now in second degree land.
Just read the article ‘Why Facebook will destroy LinkedIn’ on ERE .
This is argued on the basis of four core reasons:
– Larger volumes of people on Facebook
– Similar demographic groups
– Recruitment tools showing up on Facebook already
– Better ‘social marketing’ at Facebook
I think the article should have been better titled ‘Why Facebook can be used as another platform to recruit’. Less attention-grabbing for sure, but perhaps more balanced.
This piece, IMHO, assumes that LinkedIn will sit on its hands and let all the wealth of profiles, companies and relationships information logged over the years go to waste. I don’t see it happening
Along these lines, the ‘Facebook is huge’ argument echoes the pitch of job boards sales reps of yesteryear selling eyeballs and traffic. Organisations never needed Unique Browsers; they always needed placeable candidates that allowed agencies to earn a fee, or corporations fill a role. Bits of functionality like LinkedIn Skills which enables self-skills-coding has the looks of a powerful offering to do things like ‘get me 15 developers with android games experience in Sydney’
Similarly, demographic similarities have to be complemented with intention of presence – I go to LinkedIn to generate leads, connect with professionals, and hopefully grown my personal brand. I go to facebook to chat to my sister in Peru, look at pictures of friends and fam, mostly.
I joined Branchout early in their life and was trying to use BeKnown. Kindly, and – this might go for Australia only – we’re at very very early and immature stages of seeing candidate attraction and retention happening on FB. I am not saying it will never happen; rather I am arguing that the social links – which can nurture professional links (e.g. I want to work at Adidas ‘cause I love the brand, and my cousing tells me training for salespeople is great) – are at this stage a huge haystack to look for needles.
I am looking forward to seeing a network, environment, app, etc. giving LinkedIn a run for its money; this will be very beneficial for the market as it will accelerate the pace of offerings. I just don’t see LinkedIn destroyed anytime soon.
Have a good rest of the week.
It’s encouraging to be approached by an increasing number of recruitment firms and corporate recruitment teams asking for guidance on how to improve/ramp-up their presence on professional and online social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
With the risk of stopping them in their tracks, I normally include in this conversation a question or two about their own websites; I enquire if they measure their traffic, if they know how their sites renders on a smartphone and how regularly they update content, jobs, etc.
Sometimes I can feel in the voice of these potential customers a level of disappointment, so as to say “no, no; don’t get off topic, I don’t want to talk about my site; focus on the question about networks”
Like I said, it’s encouraging. It reflects that recruiters are aware that they need to go where job seekers and clients live, research, find.
Maybe it was the lack of caffeine today, but all I could come up with trying to explain why I ask those seemingly off-putting questions about their own website, was the following social dating scenario:
Imagine an online network is a funky, fashionable bar: nice music, lots of great-looking people mingling, checking each other out.
You are there too with shiny new clothes and accessories (company page, personal profile), already with a few acquaintances know you from previous meet-ups (connections), checking people out and being checked out.
Suddenly across the room, you see someone that really grabs your attention with their presence and persona (awesome profile – 100% complete, premium membership, open networker, looking for a career change). Fantastic!
At that moment, you come onto this person’s focus too; you’re the right complement: great connections, work for an awesome agency, and you’re hiring for this great company.
It’s a match. It’s late however: the bar will close eventually, but you and your soul mate don’t want to leave, both of you want to know more of each other. You want to talk all night.
So you pop the question: “Do you want to come to my apartment?”
At that moment (hopefully before you mutter the words) you may have thought: In which condition will this person find my abode? When did I last vacuum? Is there more than stale milk in the fridge?
You know where I am going.
If you effectively engage potential candidates or customers on a professional/social network, and they are keen enough to accept your invitation to your apartment (your company website); What they find there? Will this more intimate environment help you grow closer to this person, or will he/she be putt-off because your place is not as shiny as you appeared on the bar?
I say it again, more than happy to assist people to dress up and look fab in preparation to go to this huge online bar; just let me ask you in which condition you left your apartment.
Happy Oz Day everyone!!
I was pretty sure I had not bought any virtual goods; I’d rather give a real bunch to the missus instead of getting her a one-dimensional rose on Facebook. Heck I might lose my face if I show with my byte-based present.
I caught a bit of the first day of @leweb a couple of days ago. During the time I watched it was all about games, mobile, social and payments. I won’t be surprised if that’s how it went for the rest of the sessions.
Fact is, I might be the only old-f@art not buying virtual goods. Billions of dollars have exchanged hands, and many companies have become hugely profitable off the back of these ethereal goods. And they all seem to get even stronger sale/expansion outlooks.
Thing is, I think there is a more comprehensive of virtual goods when I said I had not bought any yet.
If you think of software as a virtual good – whether it is a spreadsheet, a smartphone game, or an iTunes track – I guess this means we’re in this virtual commerce exchange for a long time now. The distinctive feature of these goods is that they have intellectual inputs that ‘impact’ the purchaser or recipient. The problem with my earlier definition was that I did not see intellectual inputs on electronic cows (which are totally different to electric sheep, but I digress).
Hopefully, you have agreed with this revised definition of virtual goods and with the fact that you and I have been supporting this economy for yonks. Let me put something else on top of that:
Physical goods – computers, jeans, coffee – have virtual goods in their make up that appeases or satisfy us emotionally, over and above the fact that the computer is fast, that those jeans hold your butt beautifully, or that the coffee is going to wake you up.
I put to you that those virtual goods are encapsulated in what we call ‘brand’. The implicit assumption is that, perhaps over time, you can find the physical features of branded (and great) goods in other white label products. Manufacturing technology, design progress and Japan seem to indicate this is rather plausible.
That was a bit of a long road to assert that the virtual elements of your product/service have the potential to be the source of customer engagement with them.
Where are our virtual goods in recruitment? How do agencies and hiring organisations build in virtual goods that make clients and job seekers react emotionally in their favour?
I guess as an industry we don’t invest sufficiently in these virtual goods. It might be worthwhile considering investing in them as these could be a tangible part of what you call your differentiators.
What will it take for you to consider investment in your virtual goods? Money? Better understanding?
If you leave an insightful comment I will send you recommendation to be an honorary member of Pet Society.
Have a good weekend
Over the past couple of years I have seen recruiters getting significantly wiser as to how to use web-based products, services, techniques; to source the talent they need to deliver to their clients. The majority of the tier-one players have made serious investments in skills (adoption / training) and products (e.g. subscriptions) in order to create what I call a multi-channel sourcing platform using generalist sites, niche sites, search, search marketing, professional/social networks, referral systems, etc. I’d love to think that LatinOcean had something to do with that.
This multi-pronged approach to candidate engagement – I am also happy to report – hast lost its novelty value and is now imbedded in the recruiters’ workflow, which is where it makes a difference. It is now part of the day to day for a material number of agencies and internal recruitment teams. This is not going away; we’re not going to just post classifieds anymore, is my bet.
Concomitant to this evolution, job seekers need to think now (more than ever) as to how to nurture a multi-channel job hunting platform online. Which employers do you want to be targeted by? Who do you want to meet? What is the first search result you want to appear when someone Googles your name? What is the best platform to research a company or agency or individual recruitment consultant?
What I am pointing to is that we, as job seekers / professionals in constant career flux, need to understand that it is our responsibility to determine/influence our reputation online and to use the channel other than just clicking the ‘apply online’ button to get the job you want. We are empowered and able to do so without the need for technical wizardry or expensive/cumbersome overheads.
Given this, I thought I would start a bit of a list as to what you can/should do/consider when refining your ‘interactive job seeker’ self. Hopefully the list and the points outlined can be enriched with adds / edits from the readers.
1. Reports of the demise of the standard word/text/PDF resume have been greatly exaggerated. This is still the document that recruiters work with when it comes to the crunch. So if you are going to post one of this mothers online, ensure it is a current one and it reflects your agenda/interests pretty much up to the minute.
2. The resume format of choice might be the same but possibly there are smarter ways to manage its distribution/broadcasting. Give emurse a try to keep multiple versions of your resume, and a fairly clear trail of who you’ve sent it to. If you believe a fancier CV format will contribute, register with VisualCV and give it a crack
3. If you want to be seen and approached at an early stage of the recruitment process or as recruiters conduct their sourcing activities, work on your online profile. LinkedIn is still very much the place to go for this (XING is not playing in Australia and has no plans to do so – in any English-speaking nation, for that matter). Beef up your profile with work experience, academic pedigree and associations; all of this gives the system a chance to connect you with (arguably) solid connections.
4. Avoid things that create churn for the recruiter. Serial/batch job applications to classified ads are as counter-productive as multiple postings of the same advertisement. In both cases you as the job seeker are on the receiving end. If your name crops up multiple times for a large variety of roles, you may not be considered as a serious applicant. I know this is a broad generalization and a perception that maybe overridden in case you happen to be a good candidate for any of the roles, but I think it’s a reasonable rule of thumb.
5. Google yourself, and have a look; which result comes first? If you have a common name (you know what I mean, so don’t take offence) narrow down your search to your profession or company. Are your results showing within the first 10-15 results? Are you happy with the results that point to you as an individual / professional? I spend a bit of time on my LinkedIn profile and it appears that LinkedIn corresponds by investing in SEO on my behalf (and theirs, of course)
6. Search yourself on Zoominfo. This engine crawls the net to work out a profile extracted from the info accessed. You can actually register and ‘claim’ the profile the system works out and update it with current information
7. If LinkedIn appears too slanted to networking as opposed to to-the-point job hunting you can keep an eye for the LinkedIn job ads. Alternatively you can have a look at resume databases like LinkMe, which is more a job-seeker ready environment with some social features. Remember also that you have the option on several job boards to make your profile and CV visible to recruiters
8. Use Google, LinkedIn, Zoominfo and Facebook to research a company of a specific individual recruiter. If you want to check out a company, also check their careers site; further to this, create a Google email alert so you can receive news or blog postings about the company you are interested in (you want to hear from people that have actual experience with the company, not with their PR machine). While you are at it, create an email alert for yourself (e.g. enter your name as a search key)
9. Publish (this is a bit of a big one to elaborate) may tackle on part 2
Just run out of time, I am sure there are good/better ones to add for job hunters to consider; send your comments and adds to keep building this up over the next few days.
Send me an email if you need further help on this, I might be able to tailor a few things for your specific situation as a job seeker (jorge at latinocean.com).
Have a great rest of the week
No reason why they or you shouldn’t have a go
From PC World, quite an uncommitted article but this in my view is just the tip of the iceberg. I will see if I can dig down a piece from the 90’s that said that job boards were kinda looking good at the time, though most of the candidates were still coming from print ads.
Taleo has new plans to join Facebook as a way to give small- and medium-sized business customers the ability to network and source passive candidates.
Slowly but surely, we’re moving towards a multi-channel sourcing platform.