Just Connect: Why Networking and LinkedIn are Crucial

January 30, 2012

Recently, I reached out to a recruiter in my network — let’s call her Lucy — who works for a growing software company in the Boston area. My purpose for reaching out to Lucy was to see if she had five minutes to spare to speak with a former colleague of mine about a role in software sales. Lucy’s response shocked me: she said, “Honestly, I have a lot on my plate right now, and we have no openings, so there is no point in me talking to her.” My jaw dropped.

What? You are a recruiter; your livelihood depends on networking!

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I was perplexed. Not only is your job as a recruiter to find top talent for your company, but it is also to be an ambassador of your company. You are the person who spreads the positive word about your company, and yes, sometimes this means having to connect with someone who is interested in learning about future roles at your company — even though they are not useful to you at that moment.

This is not just true for a recruiter. Networking is crucial to your career, period. The best way to get a job is through the people you know. I take referrals very seriously, and I know this is true for my fellow recruiters as well. It shocks me when people do not accept my invitations on LinkedIn. I usually include a synopsis about why I am connecting with them like, “Hey Bob, I noticed you are a software engineer in the Philadelphia area. I have an interesting role, would you be open to networking?” At the very least connect with me. I have connections that may be valuable to you in the future.

Perhaps I am desensitized to screening those who enter my network since my job revolves around meeting and connecting with people — but when you break it down, can you really afford to hit “decline” on a networking invitation? My answer? No. You never know who knows who. In the above example of Lucy, it is safe to say that I will not be prioritizing helping her in her future searches for candidates. Your network is only as strong as the people in it.

As uncomfortable as it sometimes is, or as little time as you have, make that extra call to the friend of a friend talk about your company.  Hand out your business card at that networking event, and the best advice I can offer is to establish your presence on LinkedIn and accept, accept, accept invitations! Who knows, maybe one of these connections will post your dream job or be your next VP, Sales?

Senior Corporate Recruiter

<strong>Lindsey Gurian</strong> is the Senior Corporate Recruiter at <a href="http://www.acquia.com">Acquia</a>. She was previously a Senior Talent Specialist at Sonian, responsible for recruiting initiatives at both the firm and its portfolio companies.