Posts Tagged ‘Linkedin’

BranchOut – A “LinkedIn” of Facebook?

January 15, 2011 6 comments

Really? Well, this is what attracted to me to have a look at BranchOut. I think Facebook has a big potential in candidate sourcing due to the size of its network and number of unique visitors. LinkedIn has 12.5 million unique visitors and Facebook has 25 million (exactly double). Ideally, Facebook and Twitter should be number one choice of any recruiter. Unfortunately both these social networks are not easily searchable. In contrary LinkedIn has done a phenomenal work in this area. They have also take social / professional networking to more profitable recruitment business (sadly!).


I’ve recently posted about how to search twitter bio. Though it is not a complete way to search twitter – but some attempt to dig deeper. In the same way – I have been searching for a good solution for Facebook and BranchOut attracted my attention.


What is BranchOut?

BranchOut is a Facebook application (not created by Facebook) to expand your career network to include anyone you connect on Facebook. In simple words – you can share your jobs, jobs of your connections to your network. You can create your profile, list jobs and invite your connections to become part of your network. This way you and your connections can view all the jobs in your entire (2nd) degree network. You can also search people by companies and by keywords as well on their bio / title.


Features – BranchOut

  • In BranchOut – your network is limited till 2nd level; unlike till 3rd level on LinkedIn. You can easily view all the jobs posted in your network by location and keywords.
  • Once you open any jobs – it also allows you to view any other people in your network within same company. Objective is to gain references. Most of the jobs today are filled by the references.
  • You can also invite all your network people to join your network. This will help you to expand your network and gain access to their network.
  • It also allows you to search people by company.
  • BranchOut has a facility to import your resume from LinkedIn. This helps profile to become richer and easily searchable.
  • Your jobs are also become visible to 2nd level contacts as well. Better visibility.


OK – so this is like a LinkedIn of Facebook?


Well, that is what they intended; but unfortunately not close enough. LinkedIn is in an elite league and currently has no competition; not even from Facebook OR Twitter. Though I must admit that BranchOut surely has a potential in future to make the entry in elite league.


So – what’s not in favor of BranchOut?


Why BranchOut doesn’t really work?

  • BranchOut on the outset is really a Jobs/Career network application. The main objective is to distribute jobs in two degree connected network. This really does not help much in proactively sourcing candidates.
  • LinkedIn primarily started as a professional networking site which then turned to emphasize more on jobs/recruitment. Hence, it attracted a big group of professionals with clear intention of networking, idea exchange, sharing knowledge etc. BranchOut starts with career/jobs network – which does not generate much interest between common users.
  • In contrast to LinkedIn – it only reaches to 2nd degree. LinkedIn works because of mainly its 3rd degree network. This way LinkedIn allows us to reach network outside our industry; as most of the second degree contacts tend to be in our industry itself (recruitment/staffing).
  • To gain an access to second level contacts – it requires that contact to be subscribed in BranchOut. In my experience – a large group of BranchOut contacts are Recruiters. This does not help me in searching candidates.
  • As my most of the 1st and 2nd level contacts are recruiters; I can only gain references from my closed community. This does not open a layer of industry professionals as they need to sign-in BranchOut. However, BranchOut does not serve any good purpose for them to join in.
  • It does not have any good facility to search candidates directly. This is where LinkedIn scores in a big way. It depends on its members to provide references and do not have any proactive approach.
  • The biggest failure for me is that even after sitting on such a huge data-bank like Facebook (larger than LI) it only has relatively small percentage of people using them. It fails to attract non-recruitment audience which defeats the entire purpose of using this.


This is nothing against BranchOut as an application; this merely serves for example. The other applications like HirePlug which are quite similar; however ground reality is they are more of jobs spreading application than entire social media recruitment.


The big question however is how Facebook and Twitter will compete against LinkedIn on social recruiting front? I can think of two approaches out here: –


Building your network for longer run

As oppose to LinkedIn where you have a ready-made database with access till 3rd connection users – Facebook apps will require building their own network. LinkedIn too require building their own network but it’s more established, well-known, sourcing user friendly approach than Facebook apps. It’s a “Pull” approach where you need to attract people and enroll with your own efforts to gain any advantage in longer run. Don’t expect BranchOut to give similar results and different contacts than LinkedIn in near future. It’s not a replacement of LinkedIn but it will work as support tool to extract more data from Facebook which might be different from LinkedIn.

The biggest advantage for BranchOut is that it has a great (better than LI) database; however not a great mechanism to use it.


Can Facebook itself venture?

I’m sure at some point of time Facebook will go LinkedIn way. Currently there is no way you can search the existing data of Facebook profiles like current employer, job title etc. You have to use apps like BO OR Advanced Search 2.2 beta which needs to build their own database with opt-in option which does not work on mass-basis. Why Facebook can’t provide a good way to search people with their own methodology? I believe that will be a great boom in sourcing; ditto for Twitter.


Social Media Recruitment is presently more of “Push” approach which means you have a lot of recruiters pushing their jobs and praying for response. In that case this is just a natural extension of job board? Is this what SM recruitment means? I disagree…


Ideally Social Media (Twitter/FB) should be used to build your own targeted network which will allow you to network your jobs to gain referrals and increase visibility into who’s who of your industry. If someone is actively looking out for a job and respond to your ad on Facebook – is this really a value add? You can find this guy on job board as well. While BranchOut is a good effort to start this initiative – it will take a long time to gain ROI for tools such these.

And why Branch-Out against Linked-In?? Sound similar 🙂


Picking LinkedIn Groups – Be Selective, creative and proactive!!!!

December 17, 2010 3 comments

Human beings are social animals and they always like to be in groups. In the new web 2.0 world – this also holds very much true. The social networking has provided people a life 2.0 where they can create their own groups, be part of them and engage people – without actually having a trouble to meet them (!).

This time, I am talking about professional networking groups – LinkedIn Groups. Groups provide a great platform for like-minded people to discuss and share thoughts about their common interest. Especially LinkedIn Groups is a very engaging way to create a community around similar skills / interest / industry / technology (so on and so forth). However with 100s of new groups popping every day AND with 50 groups’ limit of LinkedIn, one has to think very logically about his/her strategy around groups. Though 50 seem to be a big number; with amount of groups that LI offers – this actually proves to be a very small number.

This creates a new challenge for everyone about how to manage their LinkedIn groups. Here’re my few guidelines as starters (I’m sure you will come up with many more).

Be selective about your groups and ignores the rest

LinkedIn Groups has also powered personal branding in a big way. Now-a-days people mention on their resume / CV / profile about the groups they author and population of their groups. While creating Groups is a very easy process, maintaining / growing them needs dedicated efforts. You have to be very selective about groups you join and ignore the rest of requests. Avoid being part of groups without proper overview analysis of people in the group, motto of the group and author. Remember – LinkedIn is a professional network; hence joining groups of night clubs, celebrity fan pages OR sports / entertainment would not give a good professional image of yours.

Groups that you join also get featured on your public profile page in LinkedIn. Hence, make sure those groups reflect your professional image / expertise.

How active are your current groups?

As I said previously – people starts their groups with great enthusiasm; however fails to carry on the momentum. After sometime those groups just occupies your Group list without any significant activity. It’s difficult to track activities of all your groups daily – but once in a while visit every group that you have subscribed and see what’s going on.

  • Observe how much relevant the discussion topics are.
  • See how current those topics are.
  • Do you see many replies or threads by industry specialists?
  • Did those discussions / news allow you to learn anything new?
  • How big is audience? Even if it is small – how engaging they are?

Where are your industry experts?

Generally speaking this is a good indications about which are the better groups than others. Being experts in their industry – these are the sources for good advice, tips etc. Try to follow their groups as starting points. This can give you a way to other like-minded professionals. This will also help you to connect with them and their community as a good brand building exercise for yourself. However – again don’t follow them blindly.

Are you getting ROI?

We subscribe in groups with set of expectations. It’s a simple give and take activity. People expect to contribute and in return get advice about their own requests. To evaluate this you have to participate actively in group discussions by answering or posting new topics. Closely observe about how much attention / response you get for your meaningful contribution. Are you getting new ideas, concepts and responses? If yes – this is an investment group for you. If there is very little response and sharing by group members – it’s best to exit and create a slot for new group.


Everyone has his/her own strategy behind creating their groups. Some people want to enhance their own brand and others have a genuine knowledge sharing intentions. Groups are a very easy target for Spam-hunters – especially now when we have open groups. If you are getting spam emails about any product / company / individual promoting something and if that person is group author – it’s a clear indication of his ROI of group. If you are getting spam-mails from other member – best to tell group author so that he/she can remove this person.

Industry Presence

How many of your colleagues, industry connections etc are present in your group? This might give you a good indication about usefulness. At the end of the day – groups are nothing but collaboration of people along with their skills / experience. This might also be a good opportunity for you to invite your colleagues to your groups to increase effectiveness. This chain reaction helps any group to be people and content rich.

Engagement / Relationship Building

Apart from knowledge sharing and Q&A sessions – groups are excellent way to meet new people in your industry. This way you can create, engage and maintain relationships with new people. A good group and its leader (at least initially) should facilitate conversations and engagement process. I’ve got many good industry connections and even friends by being an active member in some groups. This engagement and relationship building helps a great deal when you meet them face to face to cement this further.

Periodic Review – Clean up & Enrichment

You should visit your set of groups once every 3 months or so. Just go through your list and pick out any obvious groups which are not yielding any ROI despite your contribution. This helps to clean up non-yielding groups to give space (Remember 50 limitation?) to new fresh groups. I’m sure you will find at least 3 to 4 such groups every quarter. Similarly – you should also search for any new groups and consider any good recommendations within your network. This cleaning up exercise makes sure that your set of groups is really worth being onto your profile list.

Thinking of Creating your own Group?

OR even better – do you already have one? You have a great responsibility of making sure that you keep your group enriched and engaging all the time. As an author – you have to invest good amount of time (at least in initial stages) to attract new talent and keep your audience engaged. You also need to have a specific vision/motto to create your group. You work as a facilitator initially to set right tone and giving direction to your group. Once you start getting good contribution – work as controller to avoid any ill-effects and make sure your group is on right track. Key thing is that you have to lead from the front and invest efforts to get good ROI. Make sure that you key-in right people into the group who will lead from the front – also make them co-admins if you have trust.

In recent times Social / Professional networking has given a fantastic platform to create communities, share ideas and drive thought process. Saying this – one has to know how to manage and get most of out of their groups. It’s key to be in right groups and right times! With 50 group limit in LinkedIn – this becomes more important.

At the end of the day – you get identified by a Group (company) you keep!!!!!

Categories: Sourcing Articles Tags: ,

LinkedIn Signal – New from LinkedIn Labs

October 23, 2010 1 comment

I have always been a big fan of LinkedIn and been using this tool for past 4 – 5 years in sourcing. However, in recent past they are shifting from Professional Networking to Commercial Job Board. In some way – they are breaching what they promised by replacing paid accounts to let people get direct access. This move totally goes opposite of basic concept of networking they incepted years back.

Anyways – it seems that they are reciprocating to these criticisms by focusing on innovation (Google Way!). It was a pleasant surprise when I saw LinkedIn Labs consolidate damage in some manner. They have recently released a series of beta tools including Signal, LI Instant etc. I would like to talk about LinkedIn signal in this post.

What is LinkedIn Signal?

LinkedIn has taken its integration with Twitter a one step ahead. LinkedIn Signal is basically a stream of Twitter & LinkedIn Status update for LinkedIn users – at one place! It shows you what people are twitting OR “Statusing” (my version of “Updating Status”!) who are in your LinkedIn network. However, this is only true if you have connected your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts wherein you can view your twits through LI.

Being in Beta version – I did subscribe to this and got an invite. On first stance, it looks really interesting and cool. Best thing about this is you can search and filter your streams according to various fields LinkedIn offers. However, it made me think what is the basic utility? Here’s what I came up with. I am sure these are starters. Creative folks around will add to this in big way.

Searching Twits/Status stream Real-Time

I tried searching “looking for job” and got 3k+ results. That’s not all – LinkedIn Signal also provides you a facility to filter through various fields like Company, Industry, Time Posted, Region, School and even hash tags.

OK – now this is interesting. What if I query “looking for job” and filter it through industry as “IT” and selects a specific location – it gets more interesting. Beauty over here is that you can filter those twits to LinkedIn filters – unique isn’t it? That’s where I think once these social networks joins hands to each other – you have one big POT. OK – let’s move ahead.

Linkedin Signal

Linkedin Signal

Job Search – for Candidates

It has proven that Recruiters / HRs are one of the biggest communities to use Social Networking. I would not even look at a recruiter who doesn’t have a LI OR social networking account. Sometimes you get more jobs advertised on twitter than on job boards. As sometimes Hiring Managers / Team members also twits-in for jobs which are not advertised. Hence, LI Signal does make a very good platform to search jobs for candidates. Let’s see?

I queried-in “Account Manager” and got 3k+ results. Most of them will jobs and some of them might be candidates as well. Plus – filters make it really good to make our own choices as per industry, region, time-posted etc.

Cross Referencing

By combining twitter / LI – Signal gives a great platform to cross reference any prospective candidates. We can easily put candidate’s name on Signal to see what he is twitting OR what people are saying about him. This helps you to cross reference any candidate before putting him forward to interview OR even submit. See what he is up to on Twitter / LI…

Few other Advantages: –

  • Faster than Twitter: LinkedIn Signal is real-time!! It searches online Twitter/LI stream real-time and effectively very fast. You can also filter results very quickly. I have not come across any other websites which have same utility.
  • Finding Similar Hash-Tags: Once you queried in the search – LI Signal automatically searches for top Hash-Tags and place them in filter set. Simultaneously it also suggests some other related / similar Hash-Tags. This helps you to search similar information to topic of your interest. E.g. if you search java jobs; it also gives you hash-tags suggestion as #hiring #apple.

Problems: –

  • Limited Coverage: LI Signal only searches for people
    • Registered in Linked
    • Connected their twitter accounts to LI
    • And obviously – have something to say!

Hence, it does not cover entire gamut; however a pretty good add-on tool to have in your armory.

I sincerely hope LinkedIn should promote their LABS in big way. Being an early-bird in Professional Networking they have captured a huge amount of followers and they are now commercializing their offering; minimizing usage for normal users. If they want to strike a right balance between commercializing and socializing – they have to continue finding new ways to attract with new offerings.

For now – enjoy what they have in BETA. It might go to their new discount offering soon 🙂

Categories: Tools, Uncategorized Tags: , ,

LinkedIn – Professional Networking OR Job Board?

April 18, 2010 4 comments

My Ex-CEO forwarded me a site called LinkedIn in 2006. I was instantly impressed and connected to this very concept of being professional in networking. At the end – that’s the most important identity to know for any recruiter eh? However before going GAGA over it – I had to understand the mechanism behind LinkedIn and how I could connect to potential talent. However over the few years, LinkedIn has chosen to travel in a direction which in a way is defeating the very purpose of professional networking. It’s becoming more of a job board which just happens to have another bunch of people who might not have presence on job board.

LinkedIn was already running a special package for recruiters wherein any recruiter can pay few bugs to LinkedIn to directly connect to any person in their network. This means even if you do not happen to know a connection of a connection – you can simply InMail him with paid package to reach over. Well the original rule says you have to use your connection to get introduced to their connection. That’s what networking is. Your connections give a way to their connections and so on. In this case, LI is providing a paid agent for you to directly intrude a person who might not be interested to hear from you. Just because you paid LinkedIn – they are granting you a special permission. A regular user still has to go through a normal procedure of professional networking. Poor bugger can’t bypass the road coz he does not have extra money to spare. How fair is that?

Additionally – now LinkedIn has also travelled further to give same facility to job seekers. They can still search and view the hiring manager profile and contact them directly. Where the hell networking comes in here? You are bypassing your network to reach out the direct prospect. Also in a way, this is unsolicited marketing through networking. This whole issue sets a big question whether LinkedIn has been true to its own concept, identity and users?

Remember a time where LinkedIn was advertising its own different approach of “professional networking”. You can make your presence in your trusted friends, family and co-workers while increasing a network through true concept of networking. It did not allow anyone to intrude in anyone’s network directly unless a permission. Either you have to get introduced to a stranger either your network by forwarding an introduction. OR else, you have to send him an invitation e-mail where the other person would only accept it if he wants to do so. Now because LinkedIn has grabbed attention of all professional users and gathered a good database – it seems to commercialized a “Networking”. If you have a dollar to spare – we can introduce you to anyone on LinkedIn (well, almost anyone). In that manner by offering a service to job seeker and recruiter both – they are making it a job board. Imagine if you can most of your target people under one roof and you do not have to go through any hassle of networking – pay and use. Is that what LinkedIn started? Is that what Professional Networking means??

Still not convinced. Here are few similarities on Job Board and LinkedIn.

1) It is a database of potential candidates with their professional profiles. Although not in full format but name and company name would suffice. Job Board is also a database with their CVs.

2) LinkedIn offer a service to publicize jobs just like any other Job Board would do.

3) One of LinkedIn’s biggest customers are job seekers and recruiters – same like a job board.

4) In job board, if you pay for certain time – you can view any CV in the database and contact candidate directly. LinkedIn offering a very similar service to candidates and recruiters to contact each other.

I totally understand the fact that for recruiters professional networking means finding right candidates. However this can also be done without all these services. The very fact that LinkedIn is promoting these services is ruining its own identity as a “Professional Network”. Few of my clients had already tagged LinkedIn as job board. The beauty of LinkedIn is every professional can use it in a way it would benefit him/her. That’s one of the purpose he/she wants to connect with other people; however there is a way to make new connections. It is also very much important to know how you go about increasing your network and making it to full use. That’s what core of any networking. However giving a full paid access to bypass those principals is just against any rules of networking. Networking is NOT emailing anyone about a job opportunity – just like any other recruiter does with their job board candidate. It’s whole different ART all-together.

Anyways – I sincerely feel that LinkedIn has got an immense power as “People Networking” tool. However its purpose is to provide a platform for connecting and networking. They should not go beyond and try to become a job board. People will shy away from it if they start seeing it as a job board. It is a networking tool ONLY and should do what it does best. NETWORKING and not RECRUITING!!!

P.S. – I am sourcer too who use LinkedIn extensively. However, I prefer a good old way than using it as a job board through paid tools.

Categories: Tools Tags: , , ,
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