How to create a more focused and profitable LinkedIn network

LinkedIn Network Face - Purple

How to create a more focused and profitable LinkedIn network

Last week I outlined the thinking that I have been going through regarding the right type of network to have on LinkedIn. You can read the article here (The reason why I have decided to shrink my LinkedIn network) but the summary is that I think that the best network composition is in proportion to a person’s client base.

In other words if you spend half your time working with lawyers and half the time with accountants then your LinkedIn network should be 50% lawyers and 50% accountants. The rational is that those are the sectors of industry that you get your business from so those are the sectors that you should be connected to.

Now if you have been on LinkedIn for any time then it is probably very likely that you will have a network that is made up of a real mix of contacts.

So let’s say that you are looking to create a more focused network the next question becomes one of who do you keep in and who do you take out. Here are four criteria you can use to slim down your LinkedIn network:

1)      Location

Genuinely think about where you do business. If you are country or even county specific then why would you connect with someone hundreds of miles outside of your sales area? Yes you can argue about ‘future expansion’ but if you are building a focused list for use right now then focus your core networking on people in the geographical area that you currently do business in.

And if you are pruning an existing list then start by removing connections based on their geography. Pick countries far away remove contact in those and then and work closer to home.

2)      Industry

You know the industry that you sell into. Anyone outside it doesn’t need to be in your network. Similarly to the above start with sectors that are completely removed from where you do business and work closer.

3)      Job Titles

You probably do business with people who have a certain type of job title – IT Director, HR Manager, Mine Manager or whatever. Those people you want to stay or get connected with but people without those titles should be of less interest.  Sometimes being connected to anyone in an organisation that you are trying to do business with can help but in the long term peripheral people are not vital and are potentially clogging up your network.

Consider which job titles are completely removed to those of the decision makers you deal with and consider removing those people from your network.

4)      Competitors

This is a much more specific way of removing connections. Check through and see if you have connected with competitors. Do you really want them getting your status updates and being only one step away from your connections? Probably not so go through and have a clear out.

Consider colleagues who have left and joined rival firms. You might like them personally but do you really want them as a first tier connection or is that counter-productive? It’s something to consider.

In Conclusion

Those four tips should give you a head start with regards to focusing down your network. Additionally next week I will offer you four questions to consider when it comes to specific people you might want in, or out, of your LinkedIn network in an article called “Four questions to help you decide if you should drop a LinkedIn Connection”

If you have any other ideas for streamlining your network do share them below.

Until next time, be successful;

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist, Edenchanges.com

 

How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 04

Wolf cub and wolf

How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 04

There is a trap that recruiters fall into. It’s a trap that is often created by the very companies that the consultants work for. Indeed the consultant’s own managers and people like myself can sometimes be guilty of aiding and abetting the construction of the trap.

So what is this trap that I speak of? …

Picture of a hamster on a wheel to reflect the recruitment hamster wheel trap

… It’s the recruitment hamster wheel!

This is a wheel powered by the sweat and hard work of recruiters as they toil constantly to find new business, fill the vacancies brought in and then go out and bring in more new business.

In theory that’s the right thing to do to grow your desk as a recruiter but done in the wrong way and it will put you on a perpetual wheel of agony that will have you running ever faster and faster to simply stand still.

So what’s the mistake that’s made? Well it’s where the new business is being won from. That’s the flaw. Let’s think ahead.

Consider twelve months ahead. Would you like it to be easier to fill your vacancies in twelve months from now than it is today? To achieve that we need to apply some strategic planning. That’s our key to avoiding the hamster wheel trap.

Strategic planning is about going after similar types of recruitment business so that you can build market knowledge, a candidate pool and ultimately market credibility so that clients seek you out rather than the other way around. (Yup, it’s powerful stuff.)

Think about this; if you, over the next three months only win business in a niche market sector and focus on a narrow range of roles within that sector you will be going some way to building your desk. Multiply that activity out across the year and in twelve months you will be able to take an urgent and hot vacancy and quickly fill it with much less effort than you would if you won that piece of business today.

If, on the other hand, you don’t focus your business development on similar companies within a common sector or at least a common candidate type in related industries you will have to reinvent the wheel every time you bring in a vacancy.

Yes you can run a desk like that and many people do but truly that makes you a recruitment hamster. You have to keep learning about a new industry, new candidates quirks (i.e. what makes them good, bad or indifferent in this new sector of business) and generally keep putting a lot of energy into getting off the ground.

And when you consider that there will be competition out there who are already established in the market space who are able to move faster and more efficiently than you because they already have the basic market knowledge this puts you at a serious disadvantage.

Now does this mean that you turn down vacancies that you stumble across because they don’t fit your strategic plan? Well possibly and that’s something I will talk more about next week when I discuss some ideas regarding how to strategically plan.

What I’m saying right now is that I see a lot of consultants being pressured into chasing after every stray lead and sniff of a vacancy and whilst that can result in vacancies being brought in it is ultimately an inefficient way of working.

To be successful consultants need to plan what direction to take their desks and be actively encouraged and supported to develop those market specialisations.

Only with that planning and support can they hope to avoid becoming a recruitment hamster!

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Until next time; be successful! 

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist, Edenchanges.com

 

The reason why I have decided to shrink my LinkedIn network

LinkedIn Network Face

The reason why I have decided to shrink my LinkedIn network 

Yesterday I downloaded my connections list from LinkedIn and exported it into Excel. There is a new service being launched by Edenchanges in March specifically for recruiters and I wanted to ensure that my sales and email database had all my recruitment contacts in it from all my various networks.

As I was processing the contact list and removing all the non-recruitment clients it struck me just how few actual recruitment connections I have given that I spend the vast majority of my time working with recruiters.

Whilst I have over 4,500 LinkedIn connections what I discovered yesterday was that only around half are in the recruitment field. If my connections more accurately reflected how my time is split then the number would be much closer to 4,000.

Yesterday it took me quite a while to filter through the non-recruitment contacts to generate a list of names and people who I could present the new service to. Like everyone I hate irrelevant emails so I I worked hard yesterday to ensure that everyone I will email about the new service is in the recruitment field.

As I was wading through the names I couldn’t help but think how much easier this would have been if I had been more selective in my networking on LinkedIn.  

Now it can be argued that simply having a large number of connections is a good thing. It’s something that early in my time on LinkedIn I strongly argued. Indeed I blogged about it (How Many LinkedIn Connections Should I Have?) back in 2011 but since then my thoughts have been shifting. In 2012, in this article (Removing LinkedIn Connections) I advocated a large network but I offered the thought that you might want to focus your network.

During 2013 I thought about this a lot and started to really examine how people use their LinkedIn networks and where business tends to come from. That thinking combined with my experience yesterday has brought me to the firm conclusion that the best type of network is a large one that is in proportion to a person’s target market.

Consequently as I do 90% of my work in the recruitment field so 90% of my contacts should be in that market and to that end I am now in the process of removing contacts that don’t fit with the aim of reaching a 9:1 ratio of recruiters to non-recruiters in my network by the end of the exercise.

Yesterday was a specific event – going through the contacts and sorting them out and as such not enough reason in itself to keep a focused network. Rather it was for me a practical illustration of what I have been witnessing during 2013.

In 2013 I either saw people win business through LinkedIn with established contacts who they already knew fairly well and were simply keeping in touch with via LinkedIn or people won business from industry specific contacts. I didn’t witness any business won in a new industry simply as a result of a connection on LinkedIn; either by myself or anyone I worked with last year.

Yesterday when I was going through the list the people I recognised were, for the vast majority, in the recruitment sector. And those who I didn’t know were mostly outside of the recruitment sector and on inspection didn’t look like they would be likely clients.

I had simply connected with them at some point. What I realise now is that has little value and is in fact a detriment. So it’s time to trim down and focus my network where the bulk of my business comes from – recruiters!

I will talk more next week about how I am selecting who to remove and who to keep in an article entitled “How to Create a More Focused and Profitable LinkedIn Network”.

So those are my thoughts at the start of 2014 – what are your opinions on this?

Until next time, be successful;

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist, Edenchanges.com

How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 03

Wolf cub and wolf

How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 03 

If you are in recruitment then you know all about fear. Your fear will take many forms and be caused by many things; to name a few examples – the fear that the candidate will let you down, that another consultancy will find someone first, the fear of calling a new decision maker or making that regretful call to let a candidate know they failed at the final interview stage.

That’s a lot of fear.

So let’s look at it, understand it and do something useful with it.

Fear is an interesting aspect of human nature. If you think about it’s place in evolutionary biology if it wasn’t for fear then the human race would probably have been eaten by wolves or bears back when we were wearing loincloths and hunting with stone axes and knives.

Fear helps us veer away from dangerous situations and people and as such it still is very relevant – Leeds on a Saturday night might not be quite the wild lands of old but it can still be dangerous.

So fear is hardwired into each one of us and it wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t feel that cold frisson of fear from time to time. 

To take one of the earlier examples I think that it’s healthy to have a fear that your client will fill their vacancy through another source, other than ourself. That might well prompt you to ask for greater commitment, exclusivity or simply to find your candidates faster.

So that type of fear can be useful – or lets call it ‘apprehension’ – because that’s a better emotional level to keep that feeling to.

Fear becomes a problem when it stops us doing what we want

In my experience, in the recruitment world, this can mean that a consultant won’t make cold calls, challenge a client on an ‘unfillable’ job spec, or frankly do anything new. And by anything new I mean anything that wasn’t drummed into them as a rookie.

The consequence of this of course is that consultants only do what they have been doing. They might learn new tricks (from someone like me) but they won’t implement them out of fear of doing it badly. Which frankly is pretty tragic and not just for the companies that employ them but for the consultants themselves.

The business world is rapidly changing and if a consultant is going to consistently win new business, expand their desks and increase their billings then they need to echo the changes in their market place through evolving their business practices.

And if you don’t accept that, then just consider that five years ago recruiters didn’t need to bother with LinkedIn but now …

So do I have an answer to fear or am i just pontificating? Well yes I think there is an answer and I believe that your fear itself gives you the answer:

Do what you fear the most

You see people avoid the things that they fear. Yet those things, in sales at least, tend to be the things, that are needing to be done. Consider head hunting or business development. Both areas that people can get very nervous about and often hesitate to do. The basis of that hesitation is fear.

Fear literally is the sign post that says ‘hey do this’. So rather than ignoring your fears open your mind up and be honest with yourself. What is it you are scared about when it comes to your recruitment job? Identify that and then do it.

The result of following that advice is two-fold; first you would achieve more of that thing that you had been avoiding and the second point is able illustrated by Dale Carnegie in the following quote:

If you want to develop courage, do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it until you get a record of successful experience behind you. That is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.”

Dale Carnegie

At least that’s my view – what do you think? All comments welcomed below.

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Until next time; be successful! 

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist, Edenchanges.com

 

Motivational Monday #69 Looking for Dinosaur Eggs

Dinosaur_Eggs

Motivational Monday #69 Looking for Dinosaur Eggs

“If you observe a really happy person, you will find them building a boat, writing a symphony, educating their son, growing double dahlias in their garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert. They will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under a radiator.”
W. Beran Wolf

I love that quote. It’s one of those brilliant ones that sneaks up on you and throws you a curve ball that you just didn’t see coming. 

I mean I get the point – you don’t search for happiness, you do things that will in turn make you happy. A simple, powerful and wonderful point but it’s the delivery of the point that makes the quote so magnificent. 

Dinosaur eggs? Really? Never in a month of Sundays would I have thought to use the example of someone searching for dinosaur eggs to make a point about happiness. But there it is.  Brilliant.

Mr Wolfe wrote that sometime in the 1930′s and I suspect that if he was around today he would feel it was even more appropriate. Whilst people are much more in tune nowadays with the concept of personal development  one of the downsides of the modern personal development movement has been, in my opinion, a layer of misunderstanding.

For example people desperately read books like ‘The Secret’ looking for the magic answer that will make everything better. The promoters of these books, who have got much better at their craft since the 1930′s, create the impression that you need to read the book to find your happiness.

They create the illusion that happiness can be sought in its own right, as if it were the collar button that Mr Wolfe writes about. And sadly it’s done in such an alluring way that many of us fall under the spell. And the same could be said of many of the other popular personal development works. 

The truth is, as Mr Wolf outlines, a lot simpler  - live your life.

Do things that you find fascinating or enjoyable and from those actions will come a natural happiness. Modern life moves at quite a pace these days and I’ll wager that most of you reading this article will have busy jobs that demand a lot of your time. Those jobs are important and to be successful in this modern age often requires that we put in effort far outside of any contractual obligations. 

And that’s okay. As long as we remember two things; first to reserve a little time and energy for living our own lives and secondly that happiness isn’t something to be found but something to be created.

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Until next time, be successful!

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist, Edenchanges.com
PS The image at the top is really large. Feel free to download the full size and use as your desktop wallpaper.
 

Lessons from the Wolf Pack #9 How not to scare people when head hunting them

Picture of a wolf pack which represents recruiters

Lessons from the Wolf Pack is an ongoing series of recruitment advice articles taken from, or inspired by, situations and events observed during our phone coaching sessions with recruitment consultants making real, live calls to win business and find candidates. This is advice directly from the recruitment front lines!

Lessons from the Wolf Pack #9

How Not to Scare People When Head Hunting Them

How you word your questions is very important in recruitment and smart word usage is one of the keys that will take you to the heady heights of being a top biller.

There are a couple of areas in recruitment where this word usage comes into play specifically to encourage people to talk rather than scare them into silence. One such area is head hunting. So let’s have a look at making it less scary for the person you are ringing.

Now you can call up a target and straight from the gate tell them that you are a head hunter (and I have historically recommend the direct approach), however to people outside of the industry ‘head hunters’ are often viewed as scary bogey men who rip through organisations without any regard for the people in them and leave wrack and ruin in their wake. (It could be argued that some in our industry do exactly that, but that’s a topic for another day!)

By calling yourself a head hunter and using that title right at the beginning of the call you run the risk of triggering the fear reaction in the other person. I’ve even witnessed this amongst recruiters when they have received head hunt calls.

Now that’s a group of person you would think would take this in their stride but the psychological triggers of being ‘head hunted’ are strong. People have the irrational fear that their bosses will suddenly become psychic and know what is being said on the phone and people often shut down either completely or partially when they hear the title or realise what’s going on.

So what’s the alternative to calling yourself a ‘head hunter’ when you are, in fact, being a head hunter?

Well how about skipping the title completely and instead of saying

“Hi, I’m X and I’m a head hunter in your industry …”

try

“Hi Bob, we haven’t spoken before but I’ve seen you around on LinkedIn and I was hoping you could help me …”

Breaking it down:

1) Use their name to speak to them in a personal and more intimate fashion

2) Acknowledge that you haven’t spoken before so they aren’t spending the first few seconds thinking – ‘do I know this person and if so do I like them or not?’ (Or even deeper in their psyche – ‘are they a threat or is this safe?’)

3) The old, ‘ask for help’ trick – it might be old but it calls out to our better human nature

But, you might ask, isn’t this blown away when you then explain what you want their help with? Possibly but at least the opener is a little more gentle than what we had before which should increase the odds of you having a positive conversation afterwards.

Also how you then move into what the call is about, should be approached with their psychological safety in mind. Here is one way to carry the conversation on:

“Hi Bob, we haven’t spoken before but I’ve seen you around on LinkedIn and I was hoping you could help me …

…I’m doing some networking this afternoon and I was thinking that with your background in the industry you might be able to help …

… a contact of mine, who I’ve known for a number of years, has asked me to speak to some strong X individuals about an opportunity they have and I thought you might know someone who would be suitable.”

Assuming you are getting green lights and positive noises from the target present the opportunity:

… the opportunity is to do X …. I was interested in people with Y skills

etc

Now your opening is honest because you never denied it was about recruitment but equally you didn’t ram that fact down their throats from the beginning so it created a softer, safer environment for them to respond in.

After presenting the offer whether you directly ask them if they are interested in it or wait for them to voice an interest I leave to you. 

In Conclusion

Creating a safe environment for head hunt targets to open up in might just give some of the more skittish individuals enough confidence to talk to you. If it isn’t working you can always change style and be direct later in the call.

Do please understand that the principle I’m presenting above is much more important than the sample scripted questions I’ve used to illustrate the principle.

More Recruitment Advice Next Week

That’s all the Lessons from the Wolf Pack this week – tune in next Wednesday for more advice from the recruitment front lines. Or view the archives for more recruitment, sales or other advice.

And remember if you’re looking for recruitment training or recruitment coaching for yourself or your team give Edenchanges a ring or drop us an email today.

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE – If you’ve liked this article then you might like to subscribe to emailed updates (it’s free) – simply add your email address into the box on the right of your screen

Until next time; be successful!

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist, Edenchanges.com

 

Motivational Monday #68 Choice Not Chance

Destiny

Motivational Monday #68 Choice Not Chance

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”
Aristotle

Now I accept that random chance / fate / God (delete based on your own beliefs) can throw us a curve ball and change our destiny. Sometimes, despite our best plans, the ship hits an iceberg and equally sometimes the roulette ball lands exactly where you want it to. 

Whilst I accept that those extreme moments do occur from time to time I hold to the firm belief that what more strongly shapes our destiny is the steady stream of everyday choices that we make.

Take finances for example; let’s say you play the lottery and your number comes up. Well, congratulations; but does that extra money suddenly make you more financially astute than you were prior to winning? Very likely not and statistically the chances of that money flowing right through your hands is very high. As Robert Kiyosaki, author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” says

“Lack of money doesn’t make you poor; poor thinking makes you poor and if you have poor thinking then more money just helps you make bigger financial mistakes.”

If instead of winning the lottery you, over a period of time, choose to learn how to manage and grow your finances on a monthly basis then your acquisition of wealth will be constant and you will be more able to capitalise on any windfalls you receive and weather any financial storms that hit.

As a work example; sales is another area where determined choice eclipses random fate when it comes to determining a person’s ultimate destiny.

Yes some big deals will drop out and equally some will be won but if you rely on that one big account that you luckily won to create a sales career for yourself then you are being foolish. As the late, great Zig Ziglar said:

“It’s easy to make a sale, it’s harder to build a sales career.”

To build a sales career requires a person to take the effort to make good choices on a daily basis which in turn creates a loyal base of repeat clients who come to rely on your services. That’s building a sales career.

Much like the point above regarding financies just because you got luck and won big doesn’t mean that you become wiser or shaped your final destiny.

And that’s really what Aristotle’s quote is all about. It’s about building the destiny you want. Yes some things will ebb and flow but you do get to define most of what happens in your life and certainly how you choice to react to that which happens.

It can be tempting to feel powerless in the face of modern life and modern business but the opposite is actually the truth. We have choices and our choices give us power.

Whether we have the conversation or not, whether we are passive or active, whether we act on our hunches or not – these are the type of choices that we have every day and the outcome of those choices strongly shape our destiny.

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE – If you’ve liked this article then you might like to subscribe to emailed updates (it’s free) – simply add your email address into the box on the right of your screen

Until next time, be successful!

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist, Edenchanges.com