Fishing in a Small Pond

Krista Bradford recently wrote a timely and provocative article here on ERE about LinkedIn.

One of ERE’s long-time members, Ted Moore, in a comment to that article, stated, “If you rely heavily on LinkedIn and similar tools to connect with those your clients can easily find and recruit on their own, at least as they perceive it (and what else matters?), I look forward to competing with you.

I know Ted and I also know he means what he says.

I also know as time marches on those who think LinkedIn is sourcing are eventually going to pay a heavy price for their growing addictions.

In my “Help Me Help You” document that I send to all my new customers requesting telephone names sourcing, there is a paragraph that instructs the customer to provide me:

— Any names you might already have — this does two things: 1) avoids me duplicating your efforts and 2) gets me in to the targets faster. Be sure to include their titles and any contact info you have on them — their titles help me understand how close I am to the target and what these folks may be called at the respective companies and their contact info gives me clues as to how to get inside their organizations.

More and more we have the LinkedIn discussion.

THEM: Do you use LinkedIn?

ME: Not much.

THEM: We’ve already done LinkedIn.

ME: Silence.

THEM: We can’t find anything that works.

ME: Silence.

THEM: That’s why we’re calling you.

Me: Silence.

THEM: I’ve read your articles. Do you really think the majority of candidates are not on LinkedIn?

ME: Absolutely.

THEM: I think I believe you. I’ll be frank; I didn’t believe it at first.

ME: Silence.

THEM: You once wrote maybe 3% were findable online (see comments here). Do you still think that percentage is accurate?

ME: Absolutely.

THEM: That’s hard to believe with 135 million members!

ME: Silence.

THEM: I recently looked at the numbers — that’s how I came across one of your articles.

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ME: Silence.

THEM: About 35% of the site’s members are American. We do all of our recruiting here in the States.

ME: Silence.

THEM: I’ve recently seen numbers that estimate only about 10-15% of LinkedIn profiles are in the active range.

ME: Do the math.

THEM: That would mean only about 4 to 7 million Americans have profiles that mean much of anything on LinkedIn.

ME: There are about 150 million workers in America. I’ve seen the number pegged closer to 200 million recently.

THEM: What do you need to get started?

What I haven’t included here is the question some ask: “What if the names you send me are on LinkedIn?

ME: Depending on the space we’re working, a small percentage may be. If it’s recruiters you want, chances are most of them will be and you don’t need me. Have at it. But if it’s Uranium Geologists you want, I guarantee the companies you desire won’t have many of their GeoScientists listed. But let’s do this. You do LinkedIn first. Please do it first. Send me the names of people you find. I won’t send you them. How’s that for fair?

THEM: I don’t have time.

ME: Silence.

THEM: So I suppose if they do turn up on LinkedIn that’ll be up to us to swallow.

ME: Silence.

THEM: That’s fair. What do you need to get started?

Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!