I’m in a stare down with an executive of one of Canada’s largest recruitment and placement firms.

“Why would I be on Linkedin?”

I know what he is really saying.  He has an army of staff using all the social networks, doing all the modern recruitment so he doesn’t need to.  He is retiring probably in 2 – 4 years.  He is at the top of his game.  So why would he?  Fortunately – I had an answer for him.

“So.. you strike me as someone who would probably leave a legacy after retirement.. so when you move on and head up some kind of non-profit, worthy cause – wouldn’t it be nice to be able to connect with all your contacts?     I guess more importantly, social networking is changing the entire business model, the industry, potentially profit margins for your business.   Can you really understand what is happening until you have some kind of involvement in social media?”.

So he was very receptive to my answers – I think I made him think twice.   I’m not convince I changed his actions though.

I had a similar conversation with another president – this one of an consulting firm.   He saw value but he wasn’t convinced that many CEOs are on linkedin or have time for active management – well.. you got me there.   I notice it too – executive level absence on social networks or is it just a reflection of generational divide on social networking?

Earlier though when I was talking about relationship management – he asked “why?  why would I want more connections?”.

He wasn’t being sarcastic – just realistic.  What does he have to gain in having more connections?

What I tried to impress is that on Linkedin (obviously different for other SNS) its not just about connections.  How do people choose their advisor today?  What is in their purchase criteria?  Well..  I can bet it has something to do with referrals, testimonials, track records, and client lists – all of which are on linkedin [and if you choose a public profile in your settings – you become instantly at the top of Google’s pages – less so for very common names of course]

I challenged his team, who are on linkedin in various capacity, that I bet they are looked up on linkedin prior to engagement.

Now lets talk about connections.  An expanded connection list is a fantastic way to keep in touch with past clients (as the saying goes.. cheaper to get business from a past client than new client acquisition) and to know if a key influencer/decision maker has moved on to a new role.  Importantly, they can find you. Who keeps a rolodex anymore?  (I do wish I could add contact informaiton into linkedin).

I sympathize the president though.  He gets more calls for help than for value because of Linkedin.  But then, as one of his partners pointed out, he likely does not have his profile set up to set expectations.

One thought on “The tough questions I get on the value of Social Networking

  1. While my personal visibility on the web (including LinkedIn) is relatively high, I can understand that more traditional (and mature) business people don’t initially see the value.

    One challenge that I present to colleagues is: will someone be able to find you, if you retire or change companies? If a person only has a corporate e-mail address, he or she will become invisible at the point the institutional relationship ends.

    I encourage friends and colleagues to manage their web personas. That’s not to say everyone has to make all personal information completely public. This does reflect, however, that e-mail has become more common that handwritten notes on personal letterhead these days.

    LinkedIn does have the feature of providing routes to contact through multiple degrees of separation (e.g. friends of friends), which is something beyond Facebook. Social media isn’t just for kids anymore. I notice a rising interest from retirees … so senior executives may be just a few years away from wanting to remain in touch.

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