7 Senior executives share stories of LinkedIn success

by Alexa on March 27, 2011

LinkedIn for senior executivesRecently I was asked to provide evidence that LinkedIn was a valuable tool for senior executives and not just middle managers.

You might recall the buzz in 2008 when Oracle sourced their new CFO, Jeff Epstein, through LinkedIn. This blog post cites other examples how Fortune 500 companies are using LinkedIn for recruiting senior management.

I reached out to senior executives in my network for evidence that LinkedIn was useful in their professional efforts. Some key observations:

  • LinkedIn is indeed a key part of the career efforts, and it is creating real opportunities.
  • It is an extension of their traditional off-line networking, but LinkedIn provides a way to quickly expand and leverage their network. “Time saving” is a recurring theme.
  • Senior executive efforts focus not only on making their presence attractive and searchable, but even more on using it for due diligence on potential employers.
  • The “who has viewed my profile” feature was mentioned frequently during conversations as a key benefit.

1. JM, Vice President, Consumer Packaged Goods

Here are my first two thoughts that pop into my head as examples of the value of Linkedin as an excellent tool for senior searches. And I think the rationale for these and other benefits is the extremely broad reach of the membership.

Using the “Who has viewed your profile” feature I have recently identified two President and CEO’s that have visited my Linkedin profile. Both followed after I had spoken with a recruiter about an opportunity with their respective companies. One led to a face-to-face meeting with the President/CEO and the other did not because I did not pursue the opportunity.

Another valuable tool is the company search function where I can identify members of a company’s executive team that I am linked to through my connections. In two instances I have found 2nd degree connections who had recently left executive positions with an organization of interest to me. In both cases I was able to receive candid and incredible insight into an organization’s leadership, structure, dynamics/politics on the leadership team and within the organization, as well as very specific insider insight on the role of interest to me.

2. PL, Vice President, Insurance

I think LinkedIn is even more important for senior executives than for middle level managers. The number of job postings for senior executives is very limited as opposed to middle level managers, who are often selected by internal employees’ referrals.

Even though approximately 25% of positions are filled by recruiters overall, that number increases a lot for executive positions (often confidential search) , and recruiting firms will look on Linkedin for potential candidates.

My goal is to make sure I appear top of the search results when people search for Vice President of Sales. I believe number of connections in your network, group affiliations, keywords in your profile are extremely important to make this happen. You also need to make sure your contact details are visible and easily found.

I go on Linkedin everyday to see activities like number of searches and who has viewed my profile. I also use it to look at different companies I have targeted, and see if I can get an intro from second or third party contacts.

I received 3 phone calls from New York and 2 from London England, about consultant work possibilities, all through Linkedin.

3. RA, Vice President, Wholesale Distribution

When interviewing with specific companies I can track people who have either worked previously at the target company or are currently employed. LinkedIn searches allow me to see who in my current network is connected to those people.  As you know, the opportunity to get insight into a company prior to an interview is huge.

LinkedIn also allows people with whom you are networking to quickly scan your background without relying on resume distribution. And, when you start meeting strangers for networking efforts, you get to know what they look like and their background and interests in advance of the meeting, and vice versa.

4. UM, Senior Director, Retail

LinkedIn has been tremendously helpful in my job search. In fact – I have LinkedIn to thank for helping to get me in the door at two companies, Company X and Company Y, both at the top of my target list.
One of the folks in my network had heard about an opening for a senior position at Company X that he thought I would be well suited for and he fired me a quick message to alert me to the opportunity. I really wanted to find out who the hiring manager was so I could ensure that my cover letter and resume got to the RIGHT people and not lost in the HR web.

I searched my network to see who was connected to Company X. One of my contacts was connected to several people at Company X, so I asked him if he would reach out to his contacts to find out who the hiring manager was. He gladly reached out to his contacts and successfully connected me to the hiring manager. The result was a great interview with the CEO of Company X.

At the same time I have had three successful interviews at Company Y and am through to the next stage for an interview tomorrow with the folks that would be reporting to me! In preparation for my third interview with Company Y I was able to reach out to a new connection on LinkedIn. I met her at an event and invited her to join my network as she had previously worked at Company Y and was able to provide some insight on the company culture and some of the people I was meeting with.

5. RP, General Manager, Telecommunications

LinkedIn is new to me, although as a rookie I am making progress and have become a convert.

Admittedly my views about LinkedIn initially were misguided by my own perceptions which most importantly were not based on any real fact. With an open mind I set about increasing my knowledge around the capability of the tool and the Social Media landscape in general.

In a very short time frame I discovered the power of LinkedIn.  Today, when I think of how LinkedIn has helped me , the first thing that comes to mind is ” Speed Networking on Steroids ”  Quickly, I learned how easy it was to connect with people while also providing , in part , a road-map to companies where I have a personal interest. Also, joining a number of targeted groups has provideda good venue to remain current with industry trends and to establish valuable contacts.

Lastly, I like how LinkedIn allows you to market and test your brand message. Changes are easy to make and are real time.

In summary, keep an open mind when learning about LinkedIn and focus on understanding and learning from the network and never be afraid to ask for help from the experts!

6. SB, CFO, Real Estate

I can indeed verify that the LinkedIn site is not only useful, but REQUIRED for all levels of job searches.

I was able to connect with a number of past associates who were able to provide potential leads on jobs (and an instant reference given their working history with me). I can’t remember how many times I had associates/headhunters/etc. tell me to “look them up on LinkedIn” rather than “send me an email”. Social media may at times get confusing in terms of its purpose for old folks like me in the e-suites, but can anyone doubt the value of social media after what happened in Egypt!

In the end we should all realize that the ability to find that next job is all based on how well networked you are, and LinkedIn is a very important aspect of that networking.

7. DM, CFO, Financial Services

DM told me that he was contacted by a recruiter about a CFO role at Company Z. DM checked out Company Z on line and reached out to his 1st degree LinkedIn contacts with connections at Company Z. As part of his research he sent a LinkedIn inMail to a current employee, and used LinkedIn extensively to research the people with whom he would be interviewing along the path.


Have you heard any LinkedIn anecdotes? Would love to hear your stories in the comments.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lisa Blackburn March 27, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Very interesting to read about the power of LinkedIn. I am a new user & am discovering the benefits of LinkedIn for networking.

2 Alexa March 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Thanks, Lisa. Glad you enjoyed the post. Looking forward to *your* LinkedIn stories… 🙂

3 Alexa Samuels March 28, 2011 at 9:53 am

DM was kind enough to provide the following update to his story:

– As you mentioned, the recruiter for the role initially found me on linked-in. I would not have known about the opportunity if I had not spent the time creating a profile with key industry buzz words. I did invest some time up front.

– Linked in really helped with all my networking and interview opportunities. I always use it to research the person I am meeting with prior to the meeting.

– New for me as you mentioned was using it to reach out to my network and find people in the company that I can talk to.

– Following my most recent interview I was cautious as I did not know why the prior incumbent left (were there issues about the culture of the organization or was it a sweat shop?). There were a few things said during the interviews that led me to believe there could be issues. As I Googled the company, I found the appointment notice for the prior incumbent and used linked-in to reach out to her. She agreed to talk with me and we had a 1/2 hour discussion. From this discussion, she spoke very highly of the company, the people, the CEO, etc. and mentioned the issues were largely related to old systems and a lack of staff, both of which had since been dealt with post her departure. I gained added insight into the company that I would never have been able to achieve without the “power and capabilities” of linked-in as a support tool. I now believe that linked-in is an essential tool in one’s recruiting efforts.

4 Sharon Magor March 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Thanks, Alexa, for this post. It is reassuring to read others are using LI the same way I like to use it for.

5 Alexa March 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Sharon, great to hear from you. Is LinkedIn helping build your not-for-profit communications business?

6 Alexa Samuels April 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Update April 6, 2011:

After 7 interviews, I’m happy to report that UM landed the role at Company Y.

7 Tony Faustino May 16, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Alexa, I recently discovered your blog because you kindly linked to my blog in your blog post. Thank you! This is so generous of you!

I’ve started following you on Twitter and I look forward to learning more insightful content as I begin following your tweets and your latest blog posts.

Thanks again. You made my week!

8 Alexa May 17, 2011 at 6:36 am

Tony, thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Happy to be following you on Twitter, too. Warm regards from Toronto!

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