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LinkedIn. To be feared or embraced?

What company isn't talking about Digital? It's the word on everyone's lips.  The recruitment industry is no exception as start-ups continue to look for more ways to disrupt the traditional recruitment model.
I was speaking with an industry peer last week who also runs a recruitment firm and we were discussing the impact of social media and, specifically, LinkedIn on our industry. This led me to write this short blog.
Over the years there has been a fear of LinkedIn from our industry and conspiracy fears abound that LinkedIn's ultimate goal is to destroy the traditional recruitment firm model. There is no doubt that the likes of LinkedIn has disrupted recruitment, but interestingly, even with this disruption, many recruitment companies continue to grow and thrive. Sure, it's harder and more competitive as the USP of having a great database built up over the years has gone - you can get that from LinkedIn in an instant (well for some markets). But the power of differentiating through relationships is still there and those that focus on that continue to grow. The influence generated through these relationships cannot be compared to an 'inmail' or a 'like' through a social media channel.
To my mind, LinkedIn should be embraced. It could be seen as a facilitator of recruitment in that it provides a transparent view of the talent pools in the market (some markets better than others) and can provide a leg up in getting in front of this talent. However, you have to keep in context that LinkedIn isn't a magic wand, it's a tool, a powerful one, but a tool all the same. Like any tool (where you can input data directly) it's fallible, it doesn't have all the talent on there, and the information isn't up to date (or always true). You get to the right information by speaking and meeting people - that's also how relationships are formed.
Any recruitment firm worth its' salt should be built on a  bedrock of relationships. We deal with people, and, generally, people like dealing with people. If your business isn't built on relationships, then you will ultimately fail and you should fear LinkedIn (or social media) as you have no differentiating factor from anyone else who uses these channels. Relationships are built and earnt over time, they require focus, commitment and genuine effort. Once formed and multiplied they can and will have a transformative effect on your business.
So, if you're in external recruitment, don't fear LinkedIn, embrace it, it's simply another tool. There is no doubt that the industry is changing and evolving, no different to any other industry. As with any business in this 'digital age', you have to adapt, embrace and use these new technologies to your advantage for the longer term gain. Rather than destroying your business they may play a role in making it stronger and more resilient.

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