The research, conducted by executive and interim recruitment specialist, Executives Online, looked at the online behaviour of professional people using LinkedIn and found that only 19% of executives limit the connections they accept to people they’ve actually met.
Executives Online divided the respondents to its survey into recruiters and non-recruiters revealing that 87% of professional recruiters connect with strangers on LinkedIn, compared with 63% of non-recruitment professionals.
Interestingly, one fifth of non-recruiters limit the connections they accept to people they have actually met, while 60% of the same group extend invitation to connect to people they don’t know.
Similarly, 6% of recruiters limit their accepted connections to people they know, whereas a massive 80 percent invite strangers to connect. For 15% of executives, a meaningful virtual relationship is enough to motivate them to accept a LinkedIn invitation.
Anne Beitel, MD at Executives Online, said: “This behaviour clearly demonstrates the power of social media in connecting people and expediently building virtual networks without the traditional networking constraints associated with meetings and getting to like and know someone well. Large quantity virtual networks are here to stay but they will not replace personal networks founded upon personal relationships and trust.
“The research suggests that there’s a ‘balance of power’ in connecting on LinkedIn. Some connections are of equals: a supplier providing a service connecting with his customer, for example, whereas in others the balance of power is more skewed, with one party having influence or power that the other party wants to tap into, without necessarily being able to offer the same in return.“
Contrary to popular perception, not everyone is using LinkedIn for recruitment purposes. According to Executives Online’s research, less than one percent of hiring managers from non-recruitment companies are using the platform for recruitment, while 40% of recruiters are using LinkedIn for recruitment purposes.
On the other side of the coin, 49% of senior managers and executives are using LinkedIn to look for a new role; this splits down into 52% of non-recruiters and 21% of recruiters.
Executives Online’s research also shows that business etiquette changes when applied to social networking. More than three quarters (77%) of all senior managers and executives ignore unwanted invitation to connect via LinkedIn, and only 13% write to explain why they have turned down an invitation.
Based on its research, Executives Online has the following advice for LinkedIn users:
1. Find a way to stand out, to maximise connections - raise and develop your online voice and offer something of value and interest to people watching you
2. Support your LinkedIn presence with real-world and/or online engagement – many people use their LinkedIn network like a wallet of business cards, only connecting with people they know, so don’t forget about face-to-face networking opportunities
3. Be aware that an accepted invitation won’t necessarily lead to action - many people accept and invite connections on the basis that they look useful, so be prepared for nothing to happen quickly.