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LinkedIn hosted more than 4,000 folks this year at Talent Connect 2015 and there is no doubt everyone who walked, danced and skipped into Disneyland on Wednesday night were having a great time at LinkedIn’s bash. Who doesn’t like Disneyland, right?

Erin and I noticed the breakfast lines were a bit shorter at 8am the morning after the big party. That was ok with us and gave us a chance to meet up with someone I met last year who works with LinkedIn. She has the opportunity to do awesome work for a company she loves. People who have been at LinkedIn for a while (veterans are those with 4+ years at LinkedIn) have such respect for Jeff Weiner, the CEO and are excited that he’s been leading product development for the last year. The new and improved (no hype or advertising blah, blah, blah) flagship app apparently has his mark on it. It’s his vision realized.

There is something to be said when the CEO jumps in and drives key initiatives, listens to customers and puts a stamp on great design and meaningful products (hmmm….who else do we know that did that?) I think it’s what amazing CEOs do.

By the way, LinkedIn has grown so fast over the last two years that don’t be surprised if you feel like you know more than they do about their own product when you speak with them. They too experience a learning gap. No excuses, just their reality.

As I reflect on six or seven breakout sessions, Erin and I each found that themes clearly emerged. Some may come as a surprise, some not so much.

  1. Recruiters recruit people not profiles; treat people with respect and be human
  2. Personalize your outreach as much as possible
  3. Content, context and distribution are the trifecta of successful recruiting and marketing campaigns, as well as pipeline building.
  4. Recruiters need to think like marketers (personas, content, social)
  5. Effective learning is transformational learning (
  6. LinkedIn has bigger plans and products in mind than you can imagine
  7. The ability to create economic opportunity is necessary and within reach
  8. Start somewhere and make one change to what you do.
  9. Remember the candidate may also potentially be your customer, critic, fan.
  10. I am not nearly as funny as Erin Dore Miller.

Erin and I were also trading “yeah, that was great” and “hmm, this was a bit off course” throughout the conference and especially as we write this blog post. (…with a bag of peanut M&Ms between us)

LinkedIn is tackling big questions and racing to answer them. They are questions that are difficult to act on quickly because of their size, but they know they are important to push through.

Project Voyager (the code name for their new mobile app) originated from this one question. A big question.

My favorite breakout sessions were filled with humor, insight and skilled presenters who shared how doing something different is bold and necessary for companies of all sizes.

Perhaps one of our most valuable conversations happened on our way out, when we stopped one last time in the inLounge near Product Feedback and had a fifteen minute conversation with the Product Managers for one of LinkedIn’s new products. They asked and we shared. I saw a bit of “whoa” on their faces. When they asked what we did, they were a bit more interested. It was fun to give them some insight from our perspective and the perspective of our clients.

You will see much of what we learned and continue to process (I just took two Advil and am out of Peanut M&Ms) in our upcoming blogs, and in how we continue to teach, coach, and consult on LinkedIn with our clients.

It’s been fun to be here in Anaheim and now we are off to client meetings and a fun weekend in San Diego.


It’s day 3 and I’m delirious. We’ve spent 3 days and 3 nights in Anaheim and I feel like we just arrived and, simultaneously, like I can’t quite remember my life before Talent Connect 2015. Needless to say, it’s been quite a ride.

Following the product announcements at the beginning of day 2, I’ll admit that it was a challenge to focus on my breakout sessions. But there was so much great information and ideas to learn from! Here are a few highlights:

  • In Stacy Zapar’s session entitled “Stacy’s Secret Sauce: How to Recruit Like a Boss” we learned so many tricks of the trade from one of the best in the field. I can’t share much because, after all, they’re secrets. But I will say that Stacy is a truly talented, and very successful recruiter whose primary strategy is putting candidates first. Follow her on Twitter (@StacyZapar) for great info on the art of recruiting.
  • “You can’t get experience without experience.” – In a session on creating training and mentoring programs, we learned how one IT solutions company addressed the skills gap by creating a training and mentoring program to help entry-level and transitional candidates gain the skills that they need and that the company needs them to have. When you can’t find the right candidate for your positions, you might have to build a bridge to get them there.
  • At a session with Katie Burke, Hubspot’s VP of Culture, we discussed what company culture is and isn’t. Here’s a great test question for your organization – Can your newest or most junior level employees credibly talk about your company culture? If the answer to that question is no, you probably have some work to do. Check out Hubspot’s Culture Code for lots of great information.  

One final and important takeaway:

The LinkedIn team is brilliant and passionate. (And they know how to throw one heck of a party). I had numerous conversations with LinkedIn team members, who are carefully considering each aspect of their products and services and working hard to stay ahead of the game. Sometimes they miss a step, but it’s certainly not due to a lack of effort. What they have in store for us (us = all LinkedIn members) is going to be really awesome. It’s going to enrich our professional lives and create new opportunities. I’m really excited.

TC day 3 monday

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