EXPOSED! LinkedIn Spammers using fake profiles.

3564334635_108d9e7a05_bWe all get spam, I guess it's just one of those things we have to put up with as we get more active and become more visible on the Internet, LinkedIn is not immune to spammers and I often receive direct messages from people offering me various products and services. Irritating though it is I tend to view these messages as mildly irritating distractions from the ill-informed. What really annoys me is when I receive Spam from people who have not even got the guts to reveal who they really are!

A Tale of Two F's and a Bunny!

This particular example happened in October when I received the message below;

Voila_Capture1117

this is a message sent directly to me from someone whom I share a group with and not a connection. What got me immediately suspicious was that the individual had spelt her name in a rather unusual way, I figured it was possible to spell Jennifer with two f's, if somewhat unusual but you will note (below) that the message is signed from 'Jennifer' spelt correctly!

Voila_Capture1118

If you had an unusual spelling of a name, surely the last thing you are going to do is make an error and spell it the normal way in a message!

This seemed very suspicious to me so I got interested and investigated further. The message from Jennifer included a link promoting a webinar, that link was as follows;

Voila_Capture1123

At this point it is worth mentioning that Andy Whitehead may have simply outsourced the promotion of his webinar and may not be aware of the unethical methodology employed by his service provider.

Voila_Capture1119

I have investigated 'Jenniffer' in some detail and can find no trace of anyone of this name on the internet. I have performed an image search and her profile picture appears to be unique as well (the quality of the photo is not great so I am betting that it is a tight crop of a group picture)

She was (her profile has strangely disappeared recently) a second tier connection via two people so I contacted both of them and asked if they knew her.....neither did!

Jenniffer's Profile

Voila_Capture1120Looking further at her profile her work experience includes such reputable companies such as Kangick, Asmadick and Nagran!!

Of course none of these companies could be traced.

So I looked up her education section and Brandman University does exist but when I contacted them they were unable to confirm whether Jenniffer or Jennifer had been a student there.

I also replied to the message and asked Jennifffer (oops did I add an extra f there?!) to call me to discuss this in more detail......I sat by my phone patiently waiting but alas, she didn't call!

I can only assume that 'Jenniffer' is a fake.

If I am wrong Jenniffer and you are reading this then please drop me a line and I will be delighted to correct this post, I would hate to accuse someone who is innocent of such deplorable tactics.

I was about to give up on my quest to find Jenniffer (I was starting to dream about her by this time!) when I received another message, this time from Bunny......no this wasn't part of my dream where I suddenly invented fluffy animals sending me messages! This was from another LinkedIn user called Bunny Shady.

Voila_Capture1166

Apparently Ms Shady (the irony was not lost on me!) and I also share a group. This message made it clear that Bunny was not selling me anything but she would appreciate a 'testimonia' from me if I felt the webinar advanced my skills.....thats not typing or spelling skills then Bunny!

This also appears to be from a fake profile and also by coincidence, appears to be promoting the same webinar!

Note the linkedrecruitmentblueprint.com/webinar link which is exactly the same as the one in Jenniffer's email. Maybe they are friends or associates!

Bunny works at a company called Jakatee.....you must know them.......surely....OK maybe not!

Bunny has since disappeared from LinkedIn.

I'm sure many of us have made mistakes  when promoting our products and services online, I have certainly been guilty of things I am not too proud of in the past but I have always made these mistakes operating under my own profile.

LinkedIn is a live and thriving network of (mostly) real people, many offering their products and services - if they act in a poor manner they will be judged accordingly and if they do things well they will equally be judged appropriately.

Making mistakes such as spamming  can be forgiven if the majority of what we do is of a higher quality and we are seen to learn our lessons.

This is why I cannot stand it when people do not have the guts to be authentic and open and operate under their own profile and name.

Creating fake profiles and spamming is the worst kind of behaviour on LinkedIn and this is why I am exposing these people.

LinkedIn will be a better and more productive place for us all if we report these practices, I reported Jenniffer and Bunny to LinkedIn although I think they had already deleted their profiles by then.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh or does this kind of practice annoy you as well?

New LinkedIn Podcast - LinkedInformed

Image

I was driving my car to a training session, as usual I had my radio on to keep me entertained for the 3 hours I would be in the car. The presenter announced the next song and I thought "Oh no not that awful song again, why do they always play the same rubbish again and again?" so I switched channels...this time the presenter was interviewing an artist who had nothing interesting to say so I switched channels again, this time to a talk station.....they were debating whether we get our bins (garbage) emptied often enough!!

"There must be a better way!" I screamed out loud to myself. "Why am I having to listen to something that someone else chooses for me? My Tony Robbins CD has been played to death and there are only so many CD's I can carry in my car. I needed a better solution - enter the wonderful world of Podcasts!

If you are like me and you already listen to many podcasts then this article is not for you. I would merely encourage you to click here and download my new podcast - LinkedInformed. If you want to avoid iTunes the RSS feed is http://linkedinformed.libsyn.com/rss. 

This show is designed to educate and inspire LinkedIn users through interesting interviews, debate, useful tips, news discussions and questions and answers. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

If podcasting is something new to you then I would like to introduce a fantastic way to entertain, educate and motivate yourself whilst driving, walking the dog, running, cycling or just relaxing at home and all for free!

Podcasts let you decide what you want to listen to and there is a huge choice of free shows you can listen to. I will introduce you to some later.

Firstly let me explain how this all works.

A podcast is a multimedia digital file made available on the Internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc. The most popular way to listen to Podcasts these days is on a smart phone either by downloading the podcast on your computer and synchronizing with your phone or by using a podcasting app.

Image

Podcasting Apps

If you are an iPhone user I have produced a step by step guide to using the free Podcast app from Apple. Click here to view the guide.

I actually use a different app called Downcast which is not free but has some excellent features.

If you use an Android device, I am unable to produce a step by step guide but would recommend an app called iPP Podcast player. Click here to view. This app will allow you to download podcasts from by far the largest directory iTunes alternatively you can subscribe directly at the following link; http://linkedinformed.libsyn.com/rss

So once you have downloaded the app you can start searching for podcasts of interest. Here are a few of my favourites;

Peter Day's World of Business - BBC

Read to Lead - intentional and consistent reading is key to success in business and in life

Find The Edge - Online Business & Influence Strategies

The Global Networking Show -  Andy Lopata & Dr. Ivan Misner talk networking 

NPR: TED Talks examined in more detail.

The Foundation - Starting From Nothing. Building your business ENTIRELY from scratch.

and of course my very own, brand new podcast LinkedInformed

Episode 1 covers the following;

  • LinkedIn Intro app
  • The new iPad app
  • LinkedIn gets sued!
  • Profile tips
  • Endorsements
  • Upgrade options

You can read more here where you will also find links to all items mentioned in the Podcast.

I really hope you take to podcasting, I am by no means exaggerating when I state that listening to Podcasts has massively enhanced my knowledge and had a very positive effect on my life.

Let me know what you think of LinkedInformed episode 1, I would really value your feedback.

LinkedIn's New iPad App is a Game Changer for All.

Don't be put off reading this if you don't own an iPad - there is some important information here for anyone using LinkedIn to engage with those that might be using this app (and many people are). LinkedIn recently relaunched its iPad app, it's not an update from the previously hopeless version that was unstable and frankly useless. This is a completely new, built from scratch app....and its really excellent!

Image

In the UK, mobile is now responsible for 44% of visits to LinkedIn and this figure is expected to reach 50% early next year.

That 44% is based on a phone app that is nothing special and a truly terrible iPad app - imagine how much more traffic will come via mobile now that they have a really good iPad app?

This isn't just an interesting stat, it has a fundamental impact on how we should be using LinkedIn. When users access LinkedIn via either mobile apps they are visiting at significantly different times of the day. The graph below shows the amount of visitors at different times of the day (weekdays).

Image

The blue line represents the traditional desktop users, signing in first thing in the morning and peaking at that point but showing consistent levels of activity throughout the working hours.

The orange line represents visitors using the mobile app on their phone, the activity stays constant throughout the working day but also continues into the evening.

The most interesting line is the purple one which represents users visiting via the iPad app, lower numbers throughout the day but it then peaks late in the evening at which point it beats the other two and records the highest number of visitors at any time of the day. Presumably this happens because people relax on the couch after their evening meal and flip open their iPad!

This is a truly remarkable statistic and in my opinion, a game changer for LinkedIn users!

I have been advising delegates in my workshops for years that the most effective time of day to post a status update is first thing in the morning, this is not only when a high number of people are online but it is also the one time you know they are going to have eyes on their homepage and the stream of updates from their connections.

Now we see a massive shift towards 8-9 pm in the evening as the most active time and most of these visitors are viewing on their iPad which is designed in such a way that the update feed is most prominent (see below)

Image

As a test I am going to publish and promote this blog at 8-9 pm initially followed by 8-9 am the next day and continue this schedule for the next few weeks to see how it makes a difference to the number of views, likes and comments.

Another important thing for everyone to know about the iPad app is that website and email links in your profile become active.

When you view a profile on the desktop version or the phone app, the links or email addresses that someone has put in their summary or work experience sections only appear as font (ie you have to copy and paste them into a browser or email)

Image

However on the new iPad app the links now become active.

Image

Again this changes my advice on the information you put in your profile, previously I was ambivalent about putting links in your summary - now its essential to have links high up in your profile.

The new app is far from perfect, LinkedIn have yet again made the decision to severely restrict its functionality, for instance you can't send Inmails from the app (although you can from the iPhone app) and many other essential features are missing but this is clearly a policy decision rather than a faulty design. Overall I am very impressed, I will soon publish a full and detailed review but for now lets give LinkedIn a big 'thumbs up' for a much improved app.

LinkedIn Respond to Charging Allegation

Following my last post LinkedIn contacted me to clarify their position with regards to the issue of charging job seekers to see the salary of an advertised position. Their statement in response is as follows;

'LinkedIn works hard to connect talent with opportunity, and our mission is to make our members more productive and successful in their careers. All the information provided by a job poster about a role is available to all LinkedIn members, whether they're using the free version of LinkedIn or otherwise. Premium LinkedIn subscribers also have access to information about the likely salary bracket for a particular job.'

So to be clear, there is no salary field in a job posting as such but there is nothing to prevent an advertiser mentioning the salary within the copy of their advert (which I would strongly advise). Where it states 'get salary range for this job' below it should more accurately say something like 'see an average salary range for this job'

Image

If you view the above ad from any premium account you will see the following;

Image

So it's not the actual salary but an estimated  figure based on information provided by PayScale and is based on job-specific attributes, including industry, title, location, and other factors.

So to be fair to LinkedIn they are trying to provide the jobseeker with relevant information to help them with their application. This could be a useful guide when a salary is not mentioned and even more useful when a salary is mentioned so that they can benchmark the salary against the PayScale average.

As an example the below screenshot is a live job posting that shows a salary in the copy, the premium account holder can clearly see that they are paying below the average (despite their description of it being 'competitive')

Image

I'm not too sure what the company who posted this job would make of this but I guess it could work in their favour if they were offering an above average salary.

So there you have it, it's not quite what it initially seemed and I must thank LinkedIn for clarifying the situation.

It is an interesting feature and I would welcome your views, especially from the point of view of the advertiser.

Let me know what you think by posting a comment below.

If you wish to be notified of further postings by email then please subscribe here

LinkedIn Charges Job Seekers!

I'm annoyed. Premium accounts are OK in principle, if you want to pay to use LinkedIn for business purposes then you can make an investment decision. Will you make more money if you pay for a premium account? If not then don't buy it.

I do however have an issue with LinkedIn showing vacancy ads to job seekers and then expecting them to upgrade their account in order to see the most important piece of information - what salary the job pays!

Image

Not happy with already charging the company to place the ad in the first place, they now want to make extra money by charging the applicant as well!

OK so job seeker upgrades are not the most expensive but its the principle of charging both the advertiser and the applicant that gets me annoyed.

Image

I have advertised vacancies more times than I care to remember in the past and one thing is clear - If you don't put a salary in the ad' - the response will be poor, so I can't imagine the advertisers being too happy about this move either.

This incidentally comes from a company who expect to generate a turnover in the region of $1.5 billion and profits of $364 million this year......it just seems an unnecessary strategy to me that will lose them far more friends than it will make them extra dollars in profit.

Rant over!

What do you think?

LinkedIn Intro - Security Concerns

Image

Following on from my last blog introducing this new app, it would appear that various security concerns have been raised so I thought I would share my thoughts on this matter.

In my opinion the internet is full scaremongers and security obsessed people who seem to be able to find fault with just about every new idea/product/advancement. I happen to know that Matt Alder is not one of them so when Matt raised security concerns in the comments of my last blog, I took it very seriously.

Matt's concerns were based on an excellent article by a very credible organisation called Bishop Fox which I strongly suggest you read.

Unusually for LinkedIn they responded to this article by issuing a statement on their blog which I also strongly suggest you read. This is very unusual for LinkedIn, in my experience they tend to keep quiet about negative comments from others regarding LinkedIn - unless they feel very strongly about it.

I must admit that some of the language they both use is 'over my head' but my thoughts on the issue are as follows;

  • I am not too concerned about email going through LinkedIn's servers, I am using Gmail after all which is clearly going through Google's servers so why should I trust LinkedIn any less than Google?
  • To use Intro you actually create a new Mail account within the mail app, this can easily be switched off. There appears to be no other reconfiguring of my iPhone going on but maybe this is hidden from me.
  • I did have to give LinkedIn my pin to set up Intro, I'm really not sure why this was necessary and that does cause me some concern but LinkedIn strongly refute the allegation that they change the iPhone's security preferences.
  • Bishop Fox are internet security consultants. It is in their commercial interests to write about such issues.
  • LinkedIn would benefit from collecting data about us - such as who we are communicating with via email.

I have therefore decided to continue using LinkedIn Intro (which is after all, very useful!) but only on a limited basis as follows;

  • The new Intro account is kept live in the Mail app on my iPhone but I do not use it actively and never send any emails from this account.
  • My primary app for email is the excellent Mailbox app which I have been using for some time because it has better features than the native Mail app in my opinion.
  • When I receive an email from an unknown source I simply switch over to the LinkedIn Intro account on the Mail app and check the very useful profile information of the sender.

I know its not exactly how you are supposed to use LinkedIn Intro but given all the issues, it feels safer to use it purely as a reference aid rather then as my main Mail app.

I am not suggesting you do the same, my only advice is to make sure you read both articles and make up your own mind.

Introducing LinkedIn Intro!

Image

LinkedIn have announced a brand new line up of mobile apps and for the first time ever, they are worth getting excited about!

I will be reviewing the excellent new iPad app soon, this piece however is focussed on their brand new LinkedIn Intro app for the iPhone.

Firstly let me apologise to all of you who are Android or Windows mobile users (or anything else). This product is currently focussed on iOS only and because it is built into the Mail app, I am not sure when or if it will be available on other platforms - LinkedIn didn't mention anything about this in their presentation.

Apparently the average professional spends 28% of their day dealing with email, this seems an astonishing fact at first but when you think about it you might find you can relate to it....to be honest I'm probably spending more than that in my email! Another fascinating fact revealed by LinkedIn was that more than 50% of emails are read on a mobile device these days and that number is increasing.

LinkedIn are increasingly focussed on mobile so it made sense to introduce an app that links your LinkedIn account to your email account.

In 2012 They acquired a business called Rapportive which is a Gmail plugin that shows you the latest social network updates from whoever you’re corresponding with. I have been using Rapportive for 18 months or so and found it very useful when dealing with emails at my desk but like most people I am increasing managing email on my phone so I have found I am using Rapportive less and less.....Enter LinkedIn Intro.

Intro is integrated into your Mail so that instead of an email looking like this;

normal mail

It now looks like this;

intro email

The key difference as you can see is that the LinkedIn profile of the sender is now embedded into the email itself.

If you are not connected to this person there is a link (see arrow below) which gives you the option to connect. DON'T CLICK here! As with all mobile apps, LinkedIn just send the recipient the basic and unfriendly "I'd like to add you to my professional network message" which is poor practice.

intro mail red

However when you click on the profile link you get to see more information from that individual's profile (see below). How cool is that?

intro email info

It's not just clever and cool, it's really useful. How often do we receive emails from people who we don't really know? This way we can check out more information about them which allows us to respond more effectively.

Of course this also has an effect on the sender in that it yet again proves just how important your LinkedIn profile is. If you need help with that click here.

I had forgotten how much I missed using Rapportive until I started using Intro today, its fantastic!

Unfortunately it's not perfect, I have noticed some emails have an intro link that is so small you can't really read it! See example below;

intro email small

This above screenshot is larger than it appears on the phone and even then its difficult to read! I can only assume this is something to do with the format of the email and may be fixed in future updates, lets hope so.

So if you have an iPhone, open your browser of choice (Safari perhaps) and go to intro.linkedin.com, follow the installation instructions and once you have had a play, let me know what you think.

You Probably Already Know This.......

feedly....but just in case you have missed it. Google Reader is no more as from July 1st

If you are subscribing to this blog via Google Reader then you will no longer receive posts as from Monday.....so you need to act NOW

I have swapped over from Google Reader to Feedly which is free, looks great and has iPad and iPhone apps. Making the change to Feedly was really simple, I just created my account and entered my Google username and password...that was it! No more effort required, swap done...move on!

There are plenty of other alternatives to Feedly which you can easily find with a quick Google search.

The Great LinkedIn SWAM!

LinkedIn groups and other online forums are full of it, LinkedIn users are outraged and LinkedIn Group Managers are tearing their hair out....so what is all the fuss about this new thing called SWAM? Image For those of you who haven't come across it yet, SWAM stands for 'Site Wide Auto Moderation' a relatively new LinkedIn feature designed to block spammers from LinkedIn groups. Here is how it works; A member of a group behaves in such a way that the manager of that group decides to 'block & delete' them from their group. This decision is purely made by the manager/owner of that group and LinkedIn are not involved in any way. The result of this action is that the blocked individual is automatically moderated in every other group of which they are a member (up to 49). Moderated simply means that every post (creation of discussion, comment, promotion or job post) has to be approved by the manager of the group before it is published. LinkedIn brought in this function to help group managers deal with the ever-increasing amount of spammers infiltrating their groups. The idea was that a group manager would only delete and block someone they believed to be a genuine spammer and this would therefore be doing a favour to every other group manager who had been unfortunate enough to have attracted the said individual as a member. I think LinkedIn genuinely thought this would be widely welcomed by everyone (except those nasty spammers) but it has caused a massive outcry from just about everyone. The problem is that this decision is based on the following assumptions;

  1. All group managers are responsible, credible members of the LinkedIn community.
  2. The definition of spam is uniform.

Clearly these assumptions are completely wrong and this has been the route of the problem. I have heard countless examples of professional, credible individuals who have never even considered spamming anyone getting hit by SWAM. This could be for a variety of reasons;

  • They have had a disagreement with the manager of a group
  • They have had a public 'falling out' with another member of a group (groups are after all debating forums)
  • The manager of a group blocked & deleted them by accident
  • The manager of a group is a competitor
  • The manager had a bad day and decided to 'cull' some members to make themselves feel better!!

Quite often the reason someone gets banned from a group is because they continually post links to articles, this is very annoying for most group managers who have set up their group to be a discussion forum and links without commentary to stimulate debate just clog up the discussion timeline and are considered spam by many managers. This problem however has largely been created by LinkedIn themselves with their 'Share on LinkedIn' buttons that appear in most internet articles, these buttons allow the reader to 'share' the article to multiple groups and this is often the cause of the problem. Innocent group members are suddenly finding they are effectively subject to some gagging order in all of their groups, if they are a member of many groups it can even take them some time to figure out which group they have been deleted from!

To make the situation worse, it is not easy to get yourself 'de-SWAMed' LinkedIn customer services want nothing to do with it and advise contacting every group manager individually and 'pleading your case' to get the moderation lifted. The problem is that the group manager may well believe that there is 'no smoke without fire' and decide to ignore your appeal (this seems to be the most common response).

Interestingly some of the most vocal opponents of SWAM are the group managers themselves! The result of SWAM to decent, credible group managers is an increased workload (significant increases in moderation) and more hassle from disgruntled members asking them to lift their moderation status.

It seems that no-one is happy.

So what do LinkedIn have to say about it? .........Nothing! So far there has been a wall of silence from LinkedIn on this matter, despite the deafening volume of protest.

So come on LinkedIn, its time to eat some humble pie and accept this was a well-meaning but ill-judged action. Nobody is suggesting we should just accept spam and everyone wants to find a solution but SWAM is clearly a very blunt edged sword that is doing far more harm than good. In the meantime I would suggest everyone is extra careful with their behaviour in groups....oh and steer well clear of groups managed by your competitors!

Keeping In Touch With your LinkedIn Contacts

Today I received a message from a LinkedIn connection of mine. He is a really good bloke who has referred several clients to me in the past. This is the kind of LinkedIn connection I know I should keep in touch with more regularly and this message today has made me feel guilty for not being in touch more often! The problem is that I don't really have a system for keeping in touch. Can you relate to this?

LinkedIn is a great tool to find out about someone before meeting them and (once connected) a great way to keep up to date with what they are up to (via updates) but it's not a great tool to help us remember to keep in touch with someone. Some well-known CRM products integrate with LinkedIn but for many of us a sophisticated (and expensive) CRM tool is overkill - enter FIVEHUNDREDPLUS! (500+)

Last week a contact of mine introduced me to a new, basic but very useful CRM tool for LinkedIn called Five Hundred Plus. After just 30 minutes of playing around on the site I was so excited I decided to contact the developers to understand more about the product, its history and where it was going. 500+ works in a very simple and effective way. Initially you sign in with your LinkedIn account, this way it can look at your network on LinkedIn. Once logged in you just search for a connection (see below) and ‘drag and drop’ them into the relevant column for the frequency of contact.

This however doesn't have to just be for a connection, you can schedule contact reminders for other LinkedIn users outside of your network. You can even add more contacts who are not even on LinkedIn from the 'new contact' button.

Once this is done you will receive an email reminder every Monday morning with details of who you need to schedule contact with that week. If that contact is by email you can even bcc your 500+ account (see below) so that it automatically logs that the email has been sent - genius!

Here is a copy of my first email from 500+;

OK I'm not wild about the use of that awful 'touch base' phrase but its a pretty handy feature to have this weekly reminder!

You can also manually log an interaction and 500+ will then reschedule your next reminder;

Once a note has been added the due date will automatically change to the next scheduled contact (depending on which column it was entered into, see below) and as you can see you can make notes about the interaction as well as making notes about the contact.

This product is still in its alpha stage of development so there are a few little glitches (nothing major) and some functionality that could be added - for instance the site does not give you a link direct back to a contacts LinkedIn profile and it doesn't pull across information from the profile (such as contact information, background etc). I also think a tagging feature would also be useful (especially as it looks like this feature may be under threat with the new LinkedIn profiles). These are all areas for development and I know that Geir Freyson the developer is currently working on some of these improvements.

*UPDATE 28th November - Geir has now updated the site so that contact details now link directly back to the profile and location information is included.

In my experience some of the best app ideas come from developers who themselves find an 'itch' and decide to develop a product to 'scratch' it - this is a classic example of this as Geir told me that this was developed purely as a way to help them to keep in contact with their connections, they found it worked so well for them that they realised they had a product worth developing for a wider audience.

Overall I think this is a fantastic application and the best news....it is completely free! I can imagine an enterprise, team based paid version being a good way to monetize this in the future although I expect this single user basic edition to remain completely free.

Thanks to Geir for taking the time to talk to me about the product and also a quick mention to Mike Watson for introducing it to me in the first place....well spotted Mike!

I strongly suggest you give Five Hundred Plus a go, it could be the missing link in making LinkedIn a more powerful business development, recruiting & networking tool.

New LinkedIn Profiles - Under the Bonnet (Hood)

Last week LinkedIn revealed that profiles will be changing again, this time they describe it as the most significant change to profiles in their history so I thought I would take a closer look to see what we can expect.

These profile changes will gradually spread throughout the network over the next 6 months or so. As you would expect LinkedIn staff are the first to get the new design so I have used their profiles to investigate further.

My overall impression is very positive, it seems the aim here has been to simplify the user interface and make it easier to engage with other users. This is largely an encouraging move from LinkedIn although some aspects of this strategy have reduced and possibly even removed some previously useful features. The danger with simplification is that you can end up 'dumbing down' the tool and in some respects LinkedIn have been guilty of that on this occasion.

1st Tier

Here (right) is an example of a 1st tier connections profile. The first thing you notice is the picture which is much bigger (over 50%), as yet we do not know whether this will alter the size/pixel requirements for a picture but it is fair to assume that low resolution shots are going to look much worse in the new profile.

Otherwise the layout has not changed significantly from the previous change earlier this summer. The layout is cleaner and somewhat simplified but this means that we no longer see how many recommendations someone has and we have to click on the 'contact info' box to see their website links, Twitter link and email address. In addition we now have to hover over the triangle next to 'Send Message' to see the other things we can do with this profile (See below)

The other significant change is that the activity section which was previously in the right hand column has now moved into the prime position right at the top of the profile, this is much better and should encourage more engagement.

The circular graphic on the right is a visual representation of your connections network. The default is set for which companies they are connected to and this can be changed to school, location or industry. This looks pretty but I'm not sure it will be of any great use to us!

As you scroll down the profile you come to the employment section (I assume that the order of the sections will still be something you can adjust) as seen here on the left. This section looks a lot better with the company logos (taken from the company page) showing and forming a link to the company page. In addition they have massively improved the look of recommendations (despite rumours that 'Skills" were taking over from recommendations) which I am really pleased about. The profile photo of the person that wrote the testimonial shows together with the first few lines of the recommendation.

There is another pretty graphic in the right column which shows what you have in common with that person i.e. location, interests, skills and groups. This is much more useful and potentially highlights things that you may wish to discuss with them - again making engagement easier.

Both this and the network info graphic are not just visible for 1st tier connections but can also be seen for 2nd tier connections which makes them even more useful.

Every profile (person) link that you see in a profile now opens a new summary box when you hover over the name so very easily you can see more information about the person who wrote a recommendation or someone from the 'People also viewed" section (see below)

As we scroll down further we see a much cleaner layout again for the Skills, Education and Honors / Awards sections, note how the further education establishment title is a link to the Alumni section of LinkedIn. By clicking here I can see a list of users who went to this university/college and where they live, what they do and where they work. This isn't a new feature but worth highlighting because it can be very interesting. In some respects these types of links have become less obvious, in the old design we became used to knowing that anything in blue was a link. With the new design these links are black until you hover over them.

As mentioned earlier, the recommendations section has been improved, both under the employment section and here under the specific section for recommendations. I have recently changed the way I show recommendations in my profile, because the link (showing the number) at the top of the profile has been removed. I now advise people to show up to 5 recommendations (get as many as you can still but only show the best or most recent ones) and move them towards the top of your profile.

As you can see here on the right of this section you can toggle between a view showing received and given recommendations and there is a link to recommend the individual yourself - this however is not quite what it seems in that it is merely a link to the sent recommendations section (usually found under Contacts>Recommendations). There is no link to directly recommend someone or ask for a recommendation here so that looks like an area for improvement.

The best bit!

The most significant change to functionality and potentially the most useful feature is the ability to search someones connections. We have always been able to click on the number of connections to reveal a list of their 1st tier connections (provided their settings were at the default level - visible) but this has traditionally been of little use when someone had many hundreds or thousands of connections. The list was in alphabetical order and could take hours to go through when looking for someone.

Now we can search by keywords and filter the results in an advanced search - fantastic! By clicking on the connection number at the top of the profile (see highlighted in the first picture above) you are taken to this section further down the profile (see below)

The red arrow points towards the link to search this list by keywords, you can also she how many shared connections you have with each of these individuals and the 'NEXT' link in the bottom right corner still allows you to go through the full list if you wish. Interestingly the list is no longer in alphabetical order and as far as I can tell, seems to be fairly random.

When you click on the magnifying glass a search box opens where you can type any words or phrases you are looking for. In this case I have typed 'Sales Director' (the gap meaning it will need to find both words in the profile although it does appear to automatically prioritize the full phrase by listing those first).

The search reveals that 207 of their connections meet the search criteria and next to this is the link to move the result into an advanced search listing (see arrow). When I click-through to the advanced search I actually only see our shared connections (i.e. first tier only) which must be a glitch. This is easily remedied by selecting 2nd tier from the filters in the left hand side panel to reveal the 193 that are of most interest to me (see below)

This really is a very useful feature. Being able to precisely search through a connections list of connections is, in my opinion, invaluable and will be very helpful in many aspects of using LinkedIn.

2nd Tier

The differences are minimal with a 2nd tier connection, the info graphics are also showing at this level which provides us with more information then we are used to seeing, the 'how we are connected' section (see left) is now shown in a neat looking graphic - again this is mainly cosmetic but definitely an improvement' and there is now a link to ask for an introduction.

3rd Tier

As I have detailed previously 3rd tier have annoyingly been removed from visibility (from a keyword search result) and these changes are the same in the new design (below)

We do also see the 'How You're connected' graphic and also the info graphic on the 3rd tiers network but not the one that shows the things you have in common.

Outside Network

No changes here at all really, apart from those already covered. The name is not visible or the work experience & education summary although we do see a picture for outside network results now, which was a change made in the last re-design.

The bad news!

I'm gutted to announce that one of my favourite features, Tagging of 1st tier connections, looks like it may have been 'canned' - Tagging is a really useful feature, especially as you grow your network. I have spent much time and effort tagging my contacts and I always hoped that it would be a feature that could be used in many other aspects of LinkedIn (ie targeted status updates) but the powers that be may have decided that tagging is no longer a useful feature. From the profiles I have viewed it is not possible to tag a connection from within the profile, I'm hoping that you may still be able to tag from within the connection page but I do fear the worst.

RIP tagging, it was good while it lasted.

It would also appear that 3rd party applications have disappeared from these new profiles. I checked the profiles of many Slideshare staff who (as they are part of the LinkedIn group) all have the new design and none of them were showing the Slideshare app on their profile. This concerned me so I contacted many of the companies who currently have LinkedIn apps. Some didn't reply while others seemed unaware of any change however Wordpress replied saying "We understand that LinkedIn is planning to discontinue its InApp platform with the introduction of the new profiles" LinkedIn themselves stated; "We're working on new ways to integrate 3rd party content on the new profile & we'll have more info to share in the coming weeks"  Which isn't saying a lot and doesn't really provide much comfort.

My guess is that Slideshare will return (otherwise why acquire them?!) but other apps will disappear - especially those that encourage the reader to move away from LinkedIn (i.e. Wordpress, Blog Link, Box).

I am struggling to see how these negative changes can be sold to us as 'enhancing the user experience', it's also annoying the way they love to tell us about new things but say nothing about features they have removed, it just makes it seem like you are being conned somehow.

So there we go, I have played with these profiles a fair bit and hope I haven't missed anything important, please let me (and other readers) know if I have.

I think LinkedIn is actually starting to look pretty funky and modern now which has to be a good thing and if these changes mean that users do start to become more engaged then we will all benefit.

What do you think?

LinkedIn Skill Endorsements - My Take

ImageI Have always been a big supporter of recommendations on LinkedIn, I know some people abuse the feature by collecting insincere testimonials from anyone and everyone but on the whole they are a pretty good indication of the qualities that someone possesses. The reality is that someone is only likely to take the time to write a recommendation if they genuinely know enough about you and feel the world should know how good you are. This is why I thought it was a backward step when LinkedIn removed the number of recommendations from the top section of a profile in the recent re-design. The number is not the most important thing but it did at least bring the reader's attention to the fact that you had recommendations on your profile. In contrast I see the new skills endorsements feature as severely lacking any credibility!

Its seems as though our home pages have been filled with notifications of people racing to endorse each other, some may be very genuine but as it requires merely a click of a button, its impossible to tell so the logical conclusion is that it means very little.

My experience was that I logged on to find that a friend of mine had endorsed me for the skill 'LinkedIn' I clicked on this link and was presented with 4 other connections and an invitation to endorse a skill for each of them See below (this feature has since disappeared for me)

Image

I can click on each person and endorse them for that specific skill or I can just click on 'Endorse all 4' and because it is easy to just click all 4 I think most people will do that, without even looking at what the skills are!

I found myself looking at certain connections (not the above ones) and thinking 'Can I really say they know about that?' For instance a specialist financial recruiter who has 'statutory accounting' as a skill....would I employ them to do my accounts?!

The problem is that most people won't even give it a thought and that makes this feature a complete waste of the digital space it occupies!

You can even add more skills to a connections profile is you wish, the below box appears at the top of a connections profile.

Image

Again the temptation here is to just click the yellow 'Endorse' box thereby endorsing all skills listed, without giving it any real consideration.

I have to say that I really don't get it but for the purpose of balance, here is a quote from a fan of endorsements written in a recent group discussion I was involved with;

"Endorsements are 'public' approvals for certain skill sets, the credence comes from multiple people giving a thumbs-up. Of course they are open to abuse (just like Recommendations) but you will get a more granular evaluation of an individual's capabilities and over time, the accuracy of these public likes ought to improve over time".

I can see where LinkedIn are coming from with this and the above comment (not from LinkedIn) is a credible argument but it all feels very 'Facebook' to me. I never take the blind bit of notice if a friend 'likes' a brand/company/service on Facebook. Do you?

So where are LinkedIn going with this? First they introduce skills at the same time as removing the 'specialties' section without any explanation and then endorsements...what next?

I have no inside knowledge on this, just a gut feeling that this is all part of a bigger plan. They initially built a list of skills (originally you could just add anything yourself), then they made skills a requirement of having a 100% profile (a clear sign they had bigger plans for skills) and now endorsements. I suspect that we will see skills become a searchable feature (not currently the case) where result rankings are determined by the number of endorsements. This may well be a premium feature, only available to high level upgrades or corporate recruiter licences - I suspect that this level of attention by LinkedIn suggests some commercial intention.

Only time will tell, maybe I will have to eat my words in 6 months time.

What do you think? All views are very welcome.

Recent Changes to LinkedIn (July 2012)

There have been a few changes to LinkedIn recently that I thought were worthy of a short explanation, I tend not to comment on cosmetic changes (such as the updated 'people you may know' feature) but the following changes, whilst not hugely significant could be reasonably important to some users.

100% Profile Criteria

It has always been important to ensure you have a 100% complete profile, this automatically ranks you higher in search results, partly because it encourages you to put more information in your profile (which makes it easier to find you) but it also has  a positive weighting to how high up you appear in a search result. Recently LinkedIn have dropped one of the key criteria required to get to 100% - recommendations. Previously you needed 3 recommendations worth 5% each but now you can get to 100% without any recommendations. Whilst I am a big fan of recommendations (when done the correct way) I found that making them a criteria for a 100% profile encouraged users to just get anybody to recommend them so that they could reach 100%. This was pointless and often led to recommendations from a friend, colleague or even a family member and these type of testimonials were actually damaging to a profile. This criteria has now been replaced with the need to have a minimum of 50 connections which is in my view, much more sensible.

Twitter Link

I have never been a fan of automatic feeds from Twitter into a LinkedIn status update and now Twitter have called a stop to this. You can still link your accounts and send your LinkedIn updates to Twitter but not the other way around - either automatically or by adding #in. Most LinkedIn users will be quite happy to hear this news, many have commented to me that they are tired of seeing countless tweets telling them how someone is feeling that day or what they have been up to at the weekend or even worse seeing one half of an @ conversation!

That said I do have some connections who use Twitter extensively and only ever Tweet serious, relevant information and less often than a normal Tweeter. This new change will potentially create much more work for these people but all is not lost - there is a solution! 

I have recently been using an excellent web service called IFTTT which stands for 'If This Then That'. This simple, free and very effective service allows you to link actions between different web sites. There are lots of ways IFTTT can be used, you just need to use your imagination but one simple recipe (the term they use for a set of instructions) is to send every Tweet directly to your LinkedIn status updates. You only need to set it up once and then it will automatically keep working until you switch it off - simple!

I tested this out today with the following 'recipe'

and it worked, within minutes the Tweet appeared in my LinkedIn homepage. Whilst this is a convenient and effective workaround I still believe that the majority of LinkedIn users should NOT be sharing every Tweet on LinkedIn, IFTTT does also help in this respect as it allows you to specify that you do not want @replies sent to LinkedIn.

Company Profile Updates

LinkedIn are gradually making Company Profiles more useful and effective, firstly they allowed you the free facility to advertise your products and services via a separate tab in the profile, then they allowed a company to send a status update to its followers and now they are allowing companies to target updates at specific followers. This is a great new feature and a potential game changer in terms of what a company can do on LinkedIn (as opposed to individuals). The problem with the company status update feature was that a company's followers were often largely made up of employees, competitors and suppliers. forward thinking organisations have now started to encourage more followers (of the right type) and this feature allows them to send out status updates in a highly targeted way.

Now you can specify which followers see an update by;

  • Location
  • Industry
  • Seniority
  • Function
  • Size of employer

And you can even select to remove company employees from an update.

This is a vast improvement and does make me wonder why they can't do the same for status updates from an individual profile.......now that really would be useful!

LinkedInterview #1

The first of my interviews is with Suzanne Blundell;

  • Introduction Name - Suzanne Blundell. Job Title - Practice Development Manager at Curo Chartered Accountants. My role is to help the practice with marketing and business development, this covers all marketing channels including social media. Our clients cover a wide range of industries and we work with many large corporates including  work with the ‘big four’ accountancy firms. Much of our business is generated via referral partners such as lawyers, financial advisors, bankers etc. At the moment I work on a part-time basis.
  • When was your LinkedIn date of birth? 24th November 2010. This was following a couple of years being a full-time mum. It proved to be a great tool to re-establish old contacts and get myself ‘back in the game’ having decided to enter full-time employment again.
  • Finish this sentence "to me LinkedIn is………." an effective way of letting the market know who I am and what I do, it's really important to be visible and LinkedIn provides me with an easy way of achieving that.
  • When do you login to LinkedIn and how often? Every day in the working week on my work PC and sometimes in the evenings or weekends on my iPad. I first login within the first hour of being there (9am-10am) and then I log out again. LinkedIn can be a distraction so I leave it alone until the early afternoon when I log in again briefly. I need to be very disciplined as I work short days and can't afford to be distracted by LinkedIn activity
  • How many connections do you have and why do you connect with someone? 232 connections. I tend to connect to Partners and Managers in the accountancy profession, ex colleagues and people I have spoken to or met. I also connect with local business people who are well-connected (ie local chamber of commerce) and contacts at the ICAEW (Accountancy institute). I don't connect with friends, this is very much a business tool so unless there is also a clear business reason to do so, I would avoid personal friends on LinkedIn. Initially I connected with all sorts of people who invited me but now I avoid people who invite me unless they are relevant, especially recruiters. If I was looking for a job I would connect with recruiters but I would rather research which are worth connecting to rather than just accept invitations from random people who I know nothing about.
  • What features of LinkedIn do you use most? I have a look to see what people have been up to on my home page feed and sometimes read news updates etc. With my number of connections I am aware that I am probably missing some useful information because some of my connections do post a lot of irrelevant updates, I find this feature especially useful on the iPad app. I also love to check out who has been viewing my profile, it's often interesting and useful to see who has viewed me. This often leads to a connection because they subsequently invite me to connect or occasionally it may even instigate an invitation from me. Some people  might be viewing me because they may be considering working for Curo’s so I will put them on my radar and consider contacting them when we are recruiting, Recruiters are regular visitors to my profile but that just goes over my head because I know they are looking at everyone! I also find the ‘people you may know’ feature really useful, especially when I was initially on LinkedIn and trying to build my network and re-connect with people I had lost touch with.
  • What is your favorite feature? I like the fact that you can really easily populate your profile with relevant skills and experience and how you can link your profile to a company profile. I think the User interface is really good.
  • What success (if any) have you had from using LinkedIn? Well my current job came from LinkedIn! I mentioned earlier that I signed up for the first time because I wanted to get back into the workplace following a maternity career break and a Recruiter contacted me having done a search on LinkedIn so that was great. I know I have raised my profile in my market since being on LinkedIn and I am sure this has helped me and Curo’s in many ways although it is hard to attribute any business success directly to LinkedIn. The fact that I am a member of certain restricted membership groups and who I am connected with could give me credibility in certain circumstances.
  • What new features would you like to see? There are probably features that already exist that I am not using fully, never mind new ones! I am conscious I should be filtering my home page feed to see more relevant information. We are currently revamping our website and we will then be blogging and that is where I think my time is best spent, LinkedIn will offer us a good opportunity to publicise the blog but using new features etc is not my priority right now.
  • Will LinkedIn still be important in business in 2020? I was discussing this recently, there is a possibility that the bubble will burst and something better will come along, look at the example of Friends Reunited and how that was overtaken by Facebook....could this happen to LinkedIn? If they don't get complacent and keep improving the site they should keep ahead but who knows? Of course the big difference is that Friends Reunited was primarily about the past but LinkedIn & Facebook are about people you used to know and people you can get to know and therefore its as much about the future as the past.

My observation is that Suzanne is enjoying using LinkedIn as a way of keeping in touch and most importantly being highly visible within her community now that she is back at work. I guess when you are 'out of the loop' for a period of time due to maternity leave etc it can really highlight how easy it is to lose touch and how it can be quite a daunting prospect when you re-enter the workplace. If Suzanne had been using LinkedIn as a tool to keep in touch and remain visible whilst she was off she may have found it a less daunting prospect. That said, having signed up at the point she decided to return to work she soon realised the benefits when a Recruiter contacted her  about her present position!

A big thanks to Suzanne for her time and insight. I hope this interview has been of interest, f you feel you have an interesting story and wish to be interviewed please drop me a line at mrlinkedin.uk@gmail.com.

LinkedInterviews

Having trained thousands of LinkedIn users over the last 3 years it has been an observation of mine that many of the best ideas and techniques come from users themselves, most people are self-taught and this makes my job fascinating as I listen ideas and best practices from others and turn them into comprehensive guides and tutorials (adding my own twist along the way).

It stuck me that it might be interesting to run a series of interviews with LinkedIn users from a wide variety of backgrounds who are likely to be using LinkedIn in many different ways. These are not necessarily 'super users' in fact most are likely to be people who have a lot to learn themselves but that doesn't mean that by sharing their techniques and perspectives that others can't learn something from them.

I hope you find these interviews interesting, thought-provoking and ultimately useful. If you feel you have something to share and want me to interview you, simply drop me a line at mrlinkedin.uk@gmail.com

LinkedIn Statistics for February 2012

People are always asking me about the number of users on LinkedIn and how various countries compare with each other so I thought it would be helpful and interesting to provide you with monthly updates. Firstly lets look at the top ten countries represented on LinkedIn (click on the image to enlarge)

It's no surprise to see the US as number 1, in fact the top 3 have been that way for some time. Interestingly though the UK looks like it is soon to be overtaken by the worlds fastest growing nation on LinkedIn - Brazil!

Now let's have a look at the top ten in Europe; (click on the image to enlarge)

France has recently overtaken the Netherlands as the second largest and it looks like Italy is soon to overtake as well. The UK is way ahead though and still growing at an impressive 45,000 per month. The comparatively low figure in Germany can be explained by the popularity of xing.com which still dominates in Germany, Austria and the German side of Switzerland.

And finally let's have a closer look at the membership and company statistics for the UK. (click on the image to enlarge)

I hope these infographics are of interest, I will repeat them every month from now on as I think it will be useful to keep monitoring the growth.

 These are unofficial statistics from Zoomsphere and NOT from LinkedIn themselves, I therefore can't be 100% sure of their accuracy.

This Boy Will Go Far!

How a graduate secured his first job via LinkedIn

Let me take you back to February this year, you may recall that I attended the excellent social recruiting ‘unconference’ event TruLondon.

In between tracks I bumped into my good friend and respected expert in direct staff resourcing Peter Gold. Peter seemed rather excited by something that he wanted to talk to me about.

It turns out that Peter had just been involved in a track where the subject of graduate recruitment had been hotly debated. Wendy Jacob who at that time was working as an employability consultant at Middlesex University had brought along a small group of graduates so that they could share their experiences in this track.

Peter (who is never short of bright ideas!) proposed that the social recruiting experts present should all mentor a graduate each. This being a great way of demonstrating the power of social media to job hunters - even those right at the start of their career.

Peter asked me if I would be interested in helping....and being someone unable to resist a challenge I readily agreed.

Whilst this wasn’t specifically billed as a competition, those mentors involved were soon teasing each other and claiming that their methods would be more effective (or was that just me saying that!!)

This was when I first met Kenny.

Kenny immediately struck me as bright, ambitious and very focussed. He had attended TruLondon because he was interested in social media but primarily because he was very focussed on getting a graduate trainee position.

As soon as I met him.......I knew I had struck gold (excuse the pun Peter!).

That said, despite my outward confidence, I knew that this was not going to be easy. LinkedIn is a great tool for a jobseeker when used in the right way but it is not renown for graduate recruitment. The current market is exceptionally difficult for graduates and the competition for places on graduate schemes has never been tougher.

Kenny was clearly a good candidate but would we be able to pull this off?

I agreed to speak with Kenny the week after so that I could fully assess his credentials, requirements and his chances of him achieving them - it was just like being a Recruitment Consultant again!

Following this we set about improving his LinkedIn profile and once this was done I encouraged Kenny to build a strong network by connecting to more people and by joining plenty of groups.

As I have already mentioned, Kenny is very focussed so it didn't take much pushing from me. He went about his task with real enthusiasm and posted details about himself in relevant groups including the following post;

Now the other side of this story involves Philips and their Graduate Recruiter Jack Boiling. Jack uses LinkedIn to source candidates and understood the benefits of joining relevant groups - this gave him better search results, made it easier to contact candidates and gave him a good insight into their background and attributes.

Jack noticed the above post and sent Kenny this message on the right;

BINGO!

This was obviously just the start of the process but it was certainly very encouraging. Kenny (without any prompting from me) decided to contact Jack directly rather than clicking on the application link because he understood the importance of personal contact.

Following an encouraging conversation with Jack he was selected for aptitude tests and a telephone interview.

We did a ‘dummy run’ of the interview the day before  with me pretending to be the worlds most awkward and difficult interviewer and Kenny skillfully navigating his way around my questions. It seemed clear to me that if Philips had any sense they would snap him up but Kenny didn't see it that way. He was worried about slipping up and made sure he prepared thoroughly.

A few days later I received an excited call from Kenny telling me that he had been selected for an assessment centre.

LinkedIn had largely done its job at this stage although we knew that there was a good chance that the assessors would be checking his excellent LinkedIn profile and it did occur to me that the other candidates may not have produced good profiles (if at all).

Kenny performed admirably on the day and came away with a job offer to start as a Finance Graduate on the excellent Philips graduate training scheme.

I was in Geneva when Kenny texted me to tell me the great news, I won’t repeat what he texted but there were a lot of capital letters and exclamation marks involved!

This was a truly rewarding experience for me and proved just how effective LinkedIn can be.

The reality of course is that LinkedIn, good though it is, can’t make you a better candidate! Kenny got the job because he was good enough and he deserved it.

He made the decision to turn up to TruLondon when many of his fellow students didn't, he made the effort to join the groups and post the information about himself and he prepared exceptionally well for interview.

Philips and Jack Boiling also have to be congratulated for their use of LinkedIn, I suspect many recruiters ignore LinkedIn when recruiting at this level - their loss is Philips gain and I am sure Kenny will make a real name for himself there.

Well done LinkedIn

Well done Philips

but most of all.....

Well done Kenny, you have done yourself proud!

And finally thank you to Peter Gold for coming up with the idea in the first place, I have thoroughly enjoyed mentoring Kenny and would recommend others do the same if the opportunity arises.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly! (my thoughts on TruLondon 3)

Firstly I would like to pass on my congratulations to Bill Boorman who put on a great event. There were marked improvements from TruLondon2 last year, this time the venue and organisation were both significantly better in my view. Bill is a true 'giver' to the social recruiting  community worldwide  and the quality of the track leaders from all over the globe clearly demonstrated that. As I sat on a packed train home from Euston on Friday night I reflected on the event and my overwhelming emotion was one of frustration and disappointment - nothing wrong with the event, it was great but it was clear to me that many (maybe the majority) of people in the social recruiting world are still stuck with the mindset that social recruiting and in particular LinkedIn is all about sourcing candidates and advertising vacancies, I even saw one comment on the feedback board stating "engagement is overrated" - how depressing!

I wholeheartedly disagree with this - LinkedIn should be 'primarily' about engagement and recruitment companies that don't get this will either not exist in 10 years or at least be a shadow of their former selves! For corporate recruiters the picture is slightly different but I still think that engagement is the answer to building communities that avoid 'fire fighting' recruitment exercises.

During the LinkedIn track I co-led with Jacco Valkenburg (see above pic taken by the wonderful @saraheadworth) there were several questions and points made that clearly demonstrated a lack of understanding and interest in engagement. It seems that Recruiters are completely oblivious to the millions of other users who are gaining real benefit by using LinkedIn as it was designed - a networking tool!

It wasn't all bad though, there was some really encouraging and positive debate in a session led by the inspirational @greg_savage which I will discuss more in a later post. In addition it was great to hook up with many highly respected social recruiting experts again.

I was also invited by @petergold99 to mentor a graduate in their search for a job, this is typical of Peter - an innovative, interesting and challenging idea. I will explain more in a later blog but I have been given the challenge and privilege of assisting Kenneth Izevbigie in his search for a graduate job. This will also be a competition between me, Peter, @BillBoorman and maybe @James_Mayes (if he manages to persuade Peter to let him have one of his 3 graduates!). I can't wait to get started!

There is far too much to discuss in one blog (without sending you to sleep) so I will summarise here the 3 topics I will cover over the next few days/weeks.

The Good

The New Kool vs Old Skool run by Greg Savage was the best track of the whole event for me, great debate, interesting points and real food for thought about how social media is changing the role of a recruitment professional - or is it?

The Bad

This is the 3rd Tru event I have attended and this track labelled 'Recruiters aren't Strategic' was head and shoulders the worst I have ever experienced! Unfortunately I was stuck in the middle of the audience and unable to escape!

The Ugly

Sourcing is a great skill and very useful - for about 20% of vacancies! 80% of your jobs will be filled by candidates you should know already. So why are recruiters so obsessed with sourcing? This was brought home to me most in the LinkedIn track but it was prevalent throughout the 2 days. In this final piece I will explain my thoughts on why recruiters need to wake up, stop being lazy and get into engagement!

The Graduate Challenge

I will expand on the nature of this exciting competition and let you know more about my amazing Graduate Kenneth (you may want to offer him an interview!)

I will expand on each these points in the next 4 blogs, in the meantime, please feel free to express you views by commenting below.

Social Media - Is anyone listening?

This post is mainly aimed at Recruiters although there is some relevance to social media users in other business to business marketplaces.

WARNING - Twitter & Facebook could be a disastrous waste of your valuable time!

TruLondon 3 is fast approaching, I can't believe it's been a year since TruLondon 2, so much has happened in that time!

Reflecting on the time since the last TruLondon has got me thinking - Bill Boorman's 'unconferences' are a fantastic environment in which to discuss, debate and most importantly learn new ideas and techniques in social recruiting.

Last year I enjoyed a fantastic couple of days, listened to some fascinating insights from some impressive people and came away with some very clear objectives;

- Create a fan page on Facebook and explore this medium to promote my business

- Expand on my use of Twitter

- Blog more...a lot more!

Well, I can't claim to have fully met these objectives (especially the bit about blogging!) but I have learnt some very important things over the year and here are my Conclusions;

Blogging

This should be the centre piece of any social media strategy BUT for most normal people it is time consuming and very hard to maintain on a consistent basis. This has been true for me and many others I have spoken to. You ought to blog but finding the time to do so on a regular basis is seriously challenging.

Facebook (for business) is a complete waste of space!

This does depend on your market but my conclusion is that the vast majority of Facebook users (and there are stacks of them) use Facebook to interact with mates and their family. Talking business in Facebook is just plain boring and no-one wants to hear it! It may be big in the States but then so is the superbowl!

LinkedIn

Highly relevant audience and a great place to build relationships, it can work as place to broadcast vacancies but if that is all you are doing you are probably losing more friends (and credibility) than you are gaining. LinkedIn is at it's most powerful when you engage with people (more about engagement later).

Twitter - everyone is talking but too few are listening!

I love twitter and use it on a regular basis but I have to admit that there is a real danger of it turning out to be a place where vendors talk to vendors and customers (or candidates) only listen in small numbers. The real question to ask is 'Who is actually listening and are they commercially of interest to me?'

As usual with recruitment, it all depends on your market. If you are recruiting Marketing or IT professionals then I doubt there is a problem. If however you recruit Sales, Accountancy, Legal, HR, Production, Logistics, Purchasing or many other white collar professions at middle to senior management then I question whether Twitter is really worth the effort.

To give you some idea of the problem, LinkedIn have over 5 million users in the UK and 95 million worldwide and yet less than 3% of them have linked a Twitter account which either means;

  • They don't have one
  • They have an account but don't tweet
  • They don't relate Twitter to business.

When I looked at my LinkedIn connections, the figure was still disappointingly low at 15% and many of my connections are really into social media!

This is backed up by the fact that I get 80% more 'likes' to LinkedIn status updates than RT's on Twitter (all updates go to Twitter). Yes, I have more connections than followers but not to that degree!

The worrying conclusion is that decision makers in business may not be interested in Twitter - I agree they should be...but at least for now, they do not seem to be!

I believe that good social recruiting  and good social business should be about engagement - a 2 way conversation that leads to respect, influence and commercial success. The way I see it is the difference between social networking (engagement) and social media (broadcasting). Twitter is essential a broadcast tool, people do engage sometimes but if you tweet be honest with yourself - Are you engaging with customers & candidates or mainly with other broadcasters?

Based on my experiences over the last year my advice to Recruiters is as follows;

1) Ask your candidates and clients (for recruitment consultancies) what social platforms they use. For candidates the best way to do this is via an application or registration form. A recruitment agency recently did this and found that 72% of their candidates were on LinkedIn (although few of them knew their url!) but only 8% had a Twitter account. If you keep monitoring this you will know when it pays to increase your Twitter activity.

2) If your audience is not really using Twitter don't ignore it. Keep or create an account, link it to your LinkedIn account and ensure that all status updates go to Twitter, this way it will take none of your time but will compliment your social media (broadcasting) activities & will keep you 'in the game' for when your audience start using Twitter.

3) If you already have a decent number of Twitter followers take some time to analyse who they are and ask yourself whether they are commercially of interest to you.

This may all seem a bit negative, I hope and actually believe Twitter will eventually become a more mainstream business tool (unlike Facebook) but I just don't see any evidence of it being an effective social networking tool yet, social media maybe but not social networking.

Twitter can be very useful in other ways (i.e. Knowledge acquisition) but in recruiting, real ROI (return on investment)  comes in the form of more suitable candidates or more clients and in many markets, Twitter is just not delivering.

I look forward to hearing a robust defence of Twitter and Facebook from many respected thought leaders at TruLondon 3 this week....bring it on, I can't wait!

LinkedIn Training Officially comes to the UK

....and I get to run it!! I am very proud to announce that following months of discussions with LinkedIn that I have now been approved as their first and only officially approved training provider in the UK!

This has been achieved in conjunction with my colleague and good friend Jon Ryley and we have established a new business called InUsers. We have been granted the sole rights to run certified LinkedIn training workshops and seminars in the London and North West England regions.

LinkedIn have been aware of the growing 'cottage industry' of LinkedIn trainers that have been appearing throughout the world and they have decided that the time is now right to support those trainers who they feel deliver the highest quality LinkedIn training.

The initial trial of LinkedIn Live has been run by Jan Vermeiron and his Networking Coach business in Holland, this has been a great success so LinkedIn have decided to roll out LinkedIn Live across the world and the UK has been selected as the next location for certified LinkedIn training.

If you have read my blog before you will know that my passion is to motivate and inspire as many of the 4 million plus users in this country to really start using LinkedIn effectively. There are too many users who create a basic profile, make a few connections and then get stuck - this is like attending a networking meeting, saying hello to few people and then finding a quiet corner to sit and drink your cup of tea in peace! My mission is to come over to you and encourage you to get involved and I see no better platform than through LinkedIn Live - LinkedIn's new officially certified training platform.

Its early days and we are still working out the details but InUsers will soon be announcing a completely new suite of courses and workshops starting this autumn - watch this space for more information!