LinkedIn Recruiting

13 Feb

party

This is my 3rd entry in a series of six blogs about how to make better use of LinkedIn. My first two articles were an introduction and focus on selling via LinkedIn (see entries on January 31 & February 7 if you missed them: BOSC WordPress).

If you are a full-time recruiter, you probably know the ins and outs of using LinkedIn. The rest of you probably don’t maximize all the benefits of this expansive site. Unemployment remains extremely low in 2019, so you can’t wait for resumes to land on your doorstep. Great candidates are currently working, and LinkedIn is probably the best way to proactively find them.

1. JOIN THE PARTY

By joining some of the larger groups on LinkedIn – including some specific to your industry – you give yourself further exposure to others. You can message other members directly, post new conversations within the group (like “I have an opening!”) and comment on others’ posts without requiring a first degree connection. I highly recommend doing some work searching and joining groups.

2. ROAR LIKE A LION

I covered being a L.I.O.N. (LinkedIn Open Networker) in my last blog. If you don’t know what it is, please read that last post. If you are actively recruiting, utilize this rich network on LinkedIn.

3. CONSIDER A SUBSCRIPTION

For some of us, the need for InMails and additional tools within LinkedIn becomes a little more important. I’d consider an upgrade so that you can message 2nd degree connections and beyond. Also, you will be able to contact other premium members without using an InMail (a $60/month subscription gives you 15 per month).

If you do have them, use your InMails wisely. Craft personalized messages explaining why the recipient seems like a match for your opening. Keep it brief and to the point about your opportunity.

4. JOB POSTINGS?

I don’t mean to plug spending a lot on LinkedIn but posting a job on here can be a good option. Not to get off-topic, but here are my job board recommendations:

  • Try ZipRecruiter and Indeed first; they are probably the most effective.
  • Monster and CareerBuilder are still relevant. They have become good but not great.
  • Dice can be effective for technical positions.
  • Ladders is good for salespeople and other $100K+ jobs.

I think LinkedIn falls in a close third behind ZipRecruiter and Indeed. Most of my tips are proactive efforts versus reactionary, so please don’t assume that job ads are going to easily fill your opening with a great candidate.

5. USE A CRYSTAL BALL

Crystal is a plug-in that allows you to learn about the personality of a person on LinkedIn based on their communication style. It’s a great little tool and I’d highly recommend that you give it a try.

6. DO YOUR HOMEWORK

The absolute number one value for recruiting on LinkedIn is the research you can do in finding people. Consider this site crucial for data mining. What do you want to mine? Their name, skill set and company. If you know this much, you can determine who to reach out to. With an extensive network (500+ connections), the advanced search becomes your best friend.

7. NOW WHAT?

You have their name, but you don’t have any InMails nor a group in common with the person. DON’T risk sending them an invitation to connect if they are a stranger. You can be red-flagged by LinkedIn if more than one person responds “I Don’t Know” to your invite.

Even though there are 590 Million people on LinkedIn, only 260 Million (44%) are monthly users. The average user spends just 17 minutes a month on their site. For more statistics, check out: https://www.omnicoreagency.com/linkedin-statistics/.

You are going to have to get more creative than that – below are four better suggestions.

a. Get an introduction. Chances are, you have a contact in common – message that person in LinkedIn (1st degrees are always free) and ask for that introduction. Also, be sure to clarify your intentions up front – “introducers” can be more helpful if they know you want to reach the person about a job opening.

b. Locate them on a job board by name and company. Even if they aren’t currently searching, you may be able to find this person on one of the several mentioned in #4 above. A lot of resumes are kept on job boards indefinitely (unless taken down by the user).

c. Find their email. Sometimes you get lucky and they have their email listed in their profile. In 2019, it’s not that difficult to find people’s email addresses. If you know their company, go to their website and find their email “suffix”. Blue Octopus is http://www.blueoctopusllc.com, so our email ends @blueoctopusllc.com. Joe Johnson at Blue Octopus is probably one of the 90% that can then be reached using these common email formats: jjohnson@blueoctopusllc.com or joe.johnson@blueoctopusllc.com (if a smaller company, try joe@blueoctopusllc.com). Worst case scenario, it bounces, and you move on to other methods.

d. Call them! You know where they work; if they look great, it might be time to bravely pick up the phone.

Remember when emailing and especially calling them at work to be respectful of your “interruption”. Keep the emails somewhat vague aside from stating you “have an opportunity to discuss”. Over the phone ask if this is “a good time – or can we schedule something more convenient?” (Picture their boss is sitting at their desk!).

8. KEEP CONNECTING!

I started out on LinkedIn many years ago, slowly adding colleagues, friends, clients and people I’ve met in person to build my network to over 2,000 connections. Later, I became an active LION and open networker. 14,000 connections later, I have a vast network giving me exposure to millions. If the average user has 500 connections (based on what I’ve read, that’s probably a low estimate), then I have 500 * 14,000 = 7,000,000 second degree connections!

First and foremost, I want you to think of LinkedIn as a database for mining people’s names, titles and skill sets. Don’t assume that an InMail (or any message) will work, because at least half of your messages probably aren’t read by the individual. Please, please remember – LinkedIn isn’t all-encompassing and you will need to apply some of the methods that I suggest under #7 above.

Stay on top of building your network – If you have spoken to or emailed a connection, send a personalized invitation. If you have met them in person, diligently keep sending these new people invites! 

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

http://www.blueoctopusllc.com

 

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Selling with LinkedIn

7 Feb

Lion-Panthera-Leo

In last week’s blog, I introduced this 6 part blog on LinkedIn  (https://bit.ly/2Gcmsnh). This is the second in the series (Recruitment, Job Seeking, Groups & Recommendations to follow).

I think the number one use for LinkedIn is for selling you – and your product or service. Below are six ways in which it helps you sell.

#1 – You can search and find the right prospects by name and title. Not only can you find people within companies you are targeting, but you will also see the connections that you have in common (hint, hint – maybe you can get an introduction). If someone works in a white-collar business, they are likely to be found on LinkedIn, so this is a great place to mine information.

#2 – It also allows you to learn a little more about that person. It’s incredible how much information we can gather about someone through LinkedIn before even speaking to them. I’d suggest using a plug-in tool called Crystal. It gives you a detailed summary of the personality of the individual (it gives you 10 free profile views per month and a paid account provides unlimited views). It’s amazingly insightful, using an algorithm for the way a person communicates on the LinkedIn platform. Crystal is a simple tool that is just another way of making this social media site even more effective.

Inversely, when people are buying from you, they probably go to your LinkedIn to gather information about you (just as often or more often than visiting your company website). In 2019, your prospects and customers are more informed than ever prior to meeting you. It isn’t just about your company and products/service – they are becoming more knowledgeable about you personally… so building a great profile is key (especially your Headline & Summary).

#3 – Like Facebook, it’s great for staying connected with people. It’s your 2019 Rolodex – and this Rolodex updates itself for you.

#4 – Networking. It’s ideal for ongoing networking before and after you’ve met someone in person. And it’s also cool that you already know what they look like when you are meeting someone at a busy coffee shop for the first time!

#5 – InMails. LinkedIn has a variety of pricing plans which offer you a certain number of “InMails” (messaging within LinkedIn) for reaching people that aren’t first degree contacts. I don’t think paying for it is a must – but if you do consider a paid plan, I think InMails are the best part of paying for an upgraded subscription.

#6 – LinkedIn Open Networkers. Last week, I talked about being a cat or dog on LinkedIn… but, you actually want to be a LION! LIONs (Linked. In. Open. Networkers.) are willing to connect with anyone. If you are a salesperson, why wouldn’t you want to make a connection with as many people as possible? It may be an employee of a company you are trying to sell into – or it may be a person that lives in another city that is willing to grab dinner with you when you are in town (I once had drinks with a LION connection in Stockholm). As a salesperson, why not open more doors – at the very least, those specific to your industry?

The key to being a LION is basically the “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game… LinkedIn shows your 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections: You know George Smith who knows Amy Larson (a 2nd degree) and she knows Margaret Thatcher (3rd degree). The trouble with searches is that you can’t see profiles unless they are 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree connections (and in many cases, it doesn’t even show 3rd degrees). If you want to find more people, you need to be connected to more people. So, advertise yourself as a LinkedIn Open Networker or LION on your headline. I have over 14,000 connections and I receive 5-10 invitations a day from other LIONs – the overall effectiveness is exponential.

You can search for LIONs (see “People filters” for different categories) and send them invitations. They will always accept your invite and not put you at risk. Typically, if someone receives your invitation and they don’t know you, they can click “I Don’t Know” this person… and that’s a red flag. If you receive some of these flags (the number is an undisclosed LinkedIn mystery) – they can suspend or shut down your profile.

If you aren’t doing so already, use LinkedIn to aid your selling efforts. As a salesperson, it’s a must. 

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

 

 

 

 

Are You a Dog or Cat on LinkedIn?

29 Jan

doggiest

From a simplified perspective, there are essentially two ways to use LinkedIn: Like a cat or like a dog…

Dog: You want to meet and connect with EVERYONE even if you don’t know them well (that’s me!). If you are meeting new people on a weekly basis, this method might make sense for you as a place to collect your connections; if you are a recruiter or a salesperson, I highly recommend being a dog.

Cat: You are more careful about your connections on LinkedIn. This is your core group of trusted colleagues and you don’t want to overload your contact list. You cats out there will probably be annoyed with my recommendations to join a lot of groups and connect with as many people as you can. You’ve kept this program simple and therefore a little more manageable.

Even though I’m a dog, I can appreciate the cat strategy. My personal LinkedIn is overloaded with connections and given its limitations, it can be difficult at times to sort through and remember my interaction with all my 1st degrees.

In 2003, LinkedIn went into business and then in 2016, Microsoft purchased it (for $26 Billion). It was ahead of its time – to compare, Facebook was launched in 2004 and Twitter in 2006. If the Rolodex wasn’t a thing of the past in 2003, it certainly got thrown out once LinkedIn came around.

Sixteen years later, LinkedIn is somewhat of a name brand in social media for business. It’s still very practical but not as user-friendly as I’d like it to be. Even with the best $120 monthly subscription, the ability to export specific information (like location) is poor and you are probably going to find a few aspects of the interface clunky.

That said, whether you are a dog or a cat, LinkedIn is the go-to web site for professional networking and that probably isn’t going to change any time soon. Since their basic membership is free, at the very least, have a profile on it and understand a few basic methods of using this social media tool.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to break down LinkedIn in further detail to highlight its strengths:

  • Selling
  • Hiring
  • Job Seeking
  • Groups
  • Recommendations.

In this upcoming blog series, I am not going to give much detail about building your profile. It has been written many times so instead, my focus will be on the list above. However, just to recap the basics: use a good profile picture, build some detail under your work history and create a profile highlighting your personality and strengths. Make sure it is well written!

Have you identified yourself as a Cat or Dog? Whatever your animal, let’s make the most of LinkedIn! I look forward to diving into more detail in the coming weeks.

It’s time to grow faster

~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

 

 

 

 

Building a Kick-Butt Sales Team

15 Jan

kickbutter

I’ve seen small companies build excellent sales teams from scratch, lousy teams become very good and good sales teams become great. What are the main ingredients in a great sales team?

A sales leader. This may be obvious, but it starts here. I’ve seen many organizations create sales teams without a full-time manager. If you don’t have someone to oversee, push and encourage your salespeople, it’s going to falter. The sales leader is an excellent communicator, task-master and great coach. Hire someone that has already proven that they can build a team by demonstrating their past results and successes.

A great hiring process. I’m a recruiter but I don’t think I’m biased in saying that you must have a strong hiring process. One or two interviews isn’t enough. A sales assessment and team interviewing process are key ingredients to identifying the right people for your team (when I say “right” people that means salespeople that fit your culture and can hit the ground running).

Base salaries and commission structures that can pay them more than their base. Provide them with a reasonable base salary – I’d rather have salespeople worrying about bringing more deals than worrying about their bills. Then give them a realistic shot at exceeding that in commissions (i.e. A salesperson at a $60K base can make $60K in commissions if they are reaching their annual gross margin goals).

A sales process that salespeople can follow. Do you know how to teach your next star? There should be a path to success that they can follow… and a manager that makes sure they succeed by taking the right steps in year one.

KPI’s that hold people accountable. I’d rather fret about a salesperson’s monthly activity and results than micromanage their daily schedule. The metrics should be easy to understand and basically be measured 3 ways: (1) Activities (2) Pipeline and (3) Gross Margin on closed deals. Not only do these measurements exist, but there is accountability from all to reach these goals.

An honest culture. Within the company and within the sales team, everyone is open, direct and honest. People are comfortable discussing their successes and failures. The team is constructively calling one another out on their achievements and mistakes. No one is afraid to speak the truth to one another and –most importantly- to their manager.

A company that is willing to fire people. I’ve worked inside small and mid-size companies that almost never let people go. Give new hires an opportunity but be willing to let them go at 6 months if they aren’t hitting their numbers. All of your salespeople must fit the team culture regardless of their tenure in your company. If you put up with lousy attitudes and under-performers long term, it will affect the psyche of the entire team.

Awesome training. I’ve written an entire post about this recently: Year 1 Training. Especially in year one, a new hire needs more training and assistance than most companies are giving him/her. Are successful salespeople also receiving ongoing training? Is your training better than your competition?

If you’ve implemented my 8 suggestions above, you probably didn’t need to read this article. Because you already have a kick-butt sales team!

It’s time to grow faster! Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

 

 

 

 

Video Follow up to “Connecting with Prospects”

6 Dec

Connecting with Prospects

20 Nov

 

jigsaw-puzzle-pieces

You finally got them on the phone – or finally got a chance to meet your prospect in person. Now you need to keep their attention.

I believe we over-complicate rapport building with prospects. We try too hard… talk too much… and often find ourselves nervous which causes us to step on our own feet.

The secret to developing rapport is being AUTHENTIC. If you don’t naturally have some of the skills and attributes I list below, then maybe you aren’t wired for sales. Because great salespeople don’t act in front of the prospect or customer. They follow a process – but don’t pretend or get flustered.

  1. Relax and begin informally. If you start by talking about your business solution, you might lose them immediately. Even though they may not have a lot of time, slow down and connect with the person on a human level. The first 30 seconds of the conversation is the most important and that is where the bond (or lack thereof) begins.
  2. Start with questions. You are a curious cat, no? Conversational questions should come naturally – but make sure to have a few questions prepared.
  3. Get them to talk. People like you better when you close your mouth and allow them to talk…. this means your questions are open-ended.
  4. Now they are talking – but are you really listening? People often ask questions and instead of listening to the response, they are thinking about two other things: (a) What is this person thinking about me? (which makes you nervous and keeps you off track) and (b) What is my next question? Be in the moment and don’t jump ahead!
  5. Great listening means being genuinely interested. If you don’t have this attribute, then I don’t think you can sell. You want to know about the customer’s hobbies, likes and dislikes – and you certainly want to learn more about their role and their business. Again, be curious!
  6. Tell stories. Instead of telling them why your product or service is SO wonderful, share examples of how you’ve helped your customers and give real life stories surrounding your solution. They are influential and more memorable than barking a generic value proposition.
  7. Reveal your interests and values. Sharing your passion and your values will resonate with the prospect and likely develop a stronger bond.
  8. Keep their best interest in mind. If you aren’t a fit for them, tell them and walk away. Don’t simply be a solution – but be the best partner and you will land the business and keep it for a long time to come.

I’m not suggesting that you walk into an appointment or take a call unprepared or too casual. Always have a list of prepared open-ended questions – and drive towards their challenges and how your solution can save/make them time and/or money. You need to have a specific outcome that you are driving towards during the interaction.

I think the rest is about being human. It’s about being authentic. Don’t be all things to all people. Be yourself.

It’s time to grow faster~ 
Drew Schmitz

What can Joe Mauer teach us about sales?

14 Nov

joemauer

Very little.

This month, Joe Mauer, long term Minnesota Twin, announced his retirement from Major League Baseball. On Monday, I listened to Joe’s news conference where he emotionally discussed his retirement for over 30 minutes. I wondered where in the heck this Joe has always been…

I grew up here in Minnesota with the luck of watching my Twins capture World Series titles in 1987 and 1991. We had Kirby Puckett, a passionate, joyful character that always made me giggle; Bert Blyleven, who kept levity around the Twin’s clubhouse with almost daily pranks; Kent Hrbek, who was almost as hilarious as Blyleven… and Minnesota had Jack Morris for one year, who was as fiery as any competitor and won game 7 of the 1991 World Series pitching 10 innings. We had great personalities and players full of emotion.

Many years later in 2004, the Twins had a new star catcher named Joe Mauer as a rookie… Joe’s first 5-7 years with the Twins were unbelievable and he clearly looked to be headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 2010, he signed a record $184 million 8-year contract. In the following years, Joe Mauer had a major concussion and a number of frustrating injuries. In 2014, the Twins moved Joe to first base and he was never the same player again. Like many Minnesota fans, I began to lose faith in him. He was expensive, often injured and very average from that point forward at first base.

The real reason why I’ll never look at Joe in the same light as the aforementioned Kirby, Bert, Kent and Jack is because Joe seemed to lack any of the passion we saw from my World Series favorites. In interviews, Joe gave short answers in a monotone voice and in general was very close-lipped. Joe was boring. He was a good man and ball player… but extremely boring.

I always talk about authenticity in connection with others in sales. You can overcome many flaws if you have an engaging personality and approach people with the genuine ‘you’.

Joe never seemed genuine to me… until I listened to his press conference. Joe teared up many times as he spoke; he was verbose, and I might dare say loquacious, even. He was open in his press conference and forthright in his responses to questions. Joe seemed REAL for the first time in a long time (or ever). I wish we could have had this Joe Mauer over the last 14 years. I wish we could have seen his real personality as a player. If I’d heard him speak from the heart, I would have been much less disappointed in his average play and more sympathetic regarding his multiple injuries.

I never would have hired Joe for a sales position, but after this new glimpse into the life of Joe Mauer, I’m going to give him a call and see if I can get him to sell for Blue Octopus.

It’s time to grow faster~
Drew Schmitz