Network Shmetwork

I did my good deed and put a very mild-mannered comment on Jeff’s industry vs profession column yesterday. Now I am getting the curmudgeon stick back out on an issue that I think Jeff will probably agree with, though I admit he’d do it in a kinder,gentler way. I just saw a message similar to this one in a forum I belong to…”I am so proud to announce that since the LinkedIn seminar, thanks to The Presenter, I have connections  that link ME to 7,769,300+ professionals! Gonna work that network! “ I was in that seminar where I spent an hour or so learning to connect with certain LinkedIn “libertines” See Thesaurus…adultress, advoutress, courtesan, prostitute, strumpet, harlot, whore, punk, fille de joie; woman, woman of the town; streetwalker, Cyprian, miss, piece; frail sisterhood; demirep, wench, trollop, trull, baggage, hussy, drab, bitch, jade, skit, rig, quean, mopsy, slut, minx, harridan; Don’t get me wrong, LinkedIn has value. It is becoming a great ‘goto” place for information. I just fail to see how this exercise my colleague went through will provide ANY value at all. I have a database built up over 20 plus years that has around 10 or 12 thousand people in it that I ,or staff members, actually know and have spoken with. Those people or people maybe one link away from those people can fill just about any search I take. I can’t keep up with them as well as I’d like to. The only claimed item of value to this exercise when I asked the question was that she could now see the names of these 7 million people she does not know in search results. Anyone who thinks getting the name of a LinkedIn search result that comes without the name is a hard thing to do should put down the mouse and walk away. Wake up people! This method does not produce a network. It makes a cobweb. My friend can now proudly say that she personally does not know the same 7 million people that the seminar presenter does not know personally. Come on commenters, help me out here. This feels like one of those emails that’ll get Bill Gates and Walt Disney’s frozen head to send me 10 million dollars if I send it to 15 of my closest friends.

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Dave Staats places top executives as well as implementation consultants with software companies. He also has made more placements in Artificial Intelligence than any other headhunter. His career began during the SDI (Star Wars) years and included placement of scientists in laser, stealth, and other high-tech fields. During a short hiatus from the recruiting industry in 1994 he obtained a Private Investigator's license which he keeps as a constant reminder that a headhunter is what he really is. Dave is on the Board of Directors of The Pinnacle Society and a founder of The Tennessee Recruiters Association. He has a BA from Western Illinois University. Dave also blogs at Truth, Justice & the American Way of Headhunting


8 Comments on “Network Shmetwork

  1. The best thing about LinkedIn is that, finally, the business community can upload professional information without it being technically a resume that they have to be secretive about.

    Yes, the mediocre recruiter will brag about how many people they are connected to. Me, I’m busy on the phone already. I know my network has maybe 6million but it’s giving me great leads so I don’t care if it isn’t at 10 million.
    And besides you could give the same candidate name to a handful of recruiters and not all of them will have the tenacity to (a) keep calling until they get the person on the phone (b) screen the candidate effectively (c) sell the job.

    Also, having so much information out there actually makes third-party recruiters more valuable. HR departments are so afraid of headhunting from their competitors that they’re even more likely to enlist a 3rd party to do it even if the candidate’s information is staring them right in the face (IMHO).

  2. Not true. The network will always be relevant to those who understand how to manipulate it. To those that close their eyes and minds to change I’d suggest breaking out the 8 track tapes and play yourselves some sweet background music to fade away to.

  3. Hey Dave,

    I was in the same presentation and came away fairly agnostic on LinkedIn being neither a great supporter nor a complete naysayer. It’s just something else in the toolkit. I also have a twenty-five plus year database in my niche and that’s always where I would go first. However, I will run company specific LinkedIn searches on a two or three month cycle to see if there’s anyone new out there and then use my findings to supplement my database. Think of it as database nutrition.

    Tom Keoughan

  4. Dave – good thoughts. I agree that LinkedIn would hold no value to me if all I did was toot my horn about my massive connections, but never found the value of those connections.

    I do know recruiters who use no other tool than LinkedIn. And they make placements. I’ve not been in recruiting as long as most, so I use LinkedIn avidly. I have a good rolodex, but not one to rival the 10-12k names of many. So I use LinkedIn aggressively. It’s been a very solid tool in my belt and I’ve made placements as well.

    A very junior recruiter on my team has less than 100 connections on LinkedIn, and she just made a placement for a Senior level developer. LinkedIn was a valuable source for her. There’s obvious value to those who’ve not been in recruiting long enough to obtain a sizable list of connections whom they know personally.

    For those who make no placements, but love hearing the sound of their own voice echoing their substantial list of 1st degree connections, well, it doesn’t bother me much…I just stopped listening.


  5. Dave,


    I will never forget one of the first times I had to get in front of a group of recruiters and train them as the “expert,” what ever that means…a guy in the audience scoffed at what “a rookie and irrelevant voice I must be” as I confessed that my database at the time had 2200 good contacts in it. He proudly boasted that his database was so much bigger…22,000.

    As the day went on he also confessed to all that he could only reach about 10% of his database. DO THE MATH! Our useable databases were the exact same size, and the prior year I out billed him by double. When I less than politely pointed that out to him, he left the room. Glad he did, I got my first standing ovation as a trainer from those who remained.

    LinkedIn has a free option, and that is how most 3rd party recruiters use it…it is data…data isn’t intelligence, data isn’t knowledge, and data never becomes a deal on its own. There will always be those who think that their data is a status symbol, for me it comes down to how the data is used, as a prior post notes. If it can be a tool, then use it.

    On this topic, I think we are equally curmudgeonly disposed. And though you know I am not all about just the money, I am a lifestyle TPR. But my time is my life, my money. With the time and investment I make in any tool, LinkedIn any of the Web 2.0 constructs, it best show me an ROI or it is next please.

    Jeff Skrentny, CPC/CTS

  6. About 15 years ago (the exact reason for my call at the time escapes me now) I decided I needed to call industry heavyweight Steve F. Last name rhymes with Wrinkle)

    I had been complaining about how our agency would not, and NEVER would allow the recruiters on the internet.

    Surely Steve “Wrinkle” would give me the ammunition I would need to convince the boss. After all – this training leader had the videos with “star wars type graphics”…..very leading edge at the time. SO I called. He answered.

    “Steve – my boss won’t let me on the internet”

    “Well” he says” Have you read my latest article titled ‘Internet Follies?”


    “Let’s just get one thing straight”……he goes on…”the internet is for fools who don’t have the nerve to pick up the phone anymore. It’s for the guys who have lost the touch…”

    Does this story sound familiar?

    P.S. I have 56 contacts. Excuse me, 56 “Friends”, or is that on Myspace? Or maybe that’s my number of friends on YouTube? OR is YouTube not a linkedin type deal? What is the one where you know all these people, but then again so does everybody else?

    I get lost……………

    Call me, friend!

  7. Let me correct my comment. The exact reason for the call was some sort of bet or something as to weather a leader in the industry was For or Against the internet as a recruiting tool……

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