How do you use the LinkedIn and Google search engines?

Are you on LinkedIn?
Are you on LinkedIn?

I met a charming gentleman at a recent networking event who indicated he was not very active on that great love of mine, LinkedIn.

I thought he might be missing a few tricks. I asked him which search engine he would use if he was seeking to engage with a bookkeeper for his business. He replied he would simply go to Google. However, one of the key activities he engages in to market his business is networking; he spends time every month connecting with people at networking events and then LinkingIn when he gets back to the office. I asked him why he would not conduct a search through the LinkedIn search engine to produce a list of bookkeepers he had already met whilst on the networking circuit.

Equivalent to a Google search
How do you find the right person with the right skills?

This gentleman’s method was a bit like sourcing the ingredients for a cake and then not eating it..! LinkedIn would be my first port of call. Let’s conduct a little search engines experiment to illustrate the merits of both resources.

LinkedIn Search Engine

…To me, LinkedIn is like a trusty database of people with a range of skills and services. After a swift search engine interrogation, I find I have 9 first line (direct) and 858 second line (through my first line) connections with bookkeepers through my LinkedIn network. I have either met all nine of my first line connections or I have had some kind of online engagement with them through eg. my blog posts or group activity. There is already a relationship.

The nine first line connections are listed alphabetically. I have met the lady from “Business A” who appears at the top of the list several times. I have a connection with her… I have also heard people speak highly of her bookkeeping service and, looking at her LinkedIn profile, there are a number of recommendations to substantiate my already positive view. What’s more, a number of people who I also know and trust have endorsed her bookkeeping skills at the bottom of her profile. A quick gander around her website to find out more about her range of services and pricing, and now I have the confidence to make a genuine business enquiry about her bookkeeping service.

Google Search Engine

Now, let’s Google it!

When I put “bookkeepers” into the Google search engine, I am presented with a list of sponsored responses, a Wikipedia definition, two vacancies in a nearby town and then a link to an independent bookkeeper (Business B). I do not know anything about this bookkeeper or her business. When I click through to her website, I can learn more. I refer to her testimonials, her ‘About me’ page, and I can check out her services and look at her profile picture. This is all very informative but there is still no business relationship or the confidence I would like in order to make an initial business enquiry.

Using Google...
Using Google..

Please don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of Google; I recently wrote about how I would not have been able to plan a school reunion without it! The difference is that, for the reunion project, I was seeking to obtain information about people from outside my current network with very little related knowledge as to their whereabouts or activities. By Googling to seek a bookkeeper to engage with in business I am, in fact, going back to square one. It’s a cold start; there’s no warmth and no relationship. I do not know the lady at Business B and – it appears at first sight – no one in my trusty network does either.

What I can do though, is put the business owner’s name into LinkedIn. Voila! It turns out this lady is a second line connection – one of the 858 – and we share 26 connections. It gets better! One of the LinkedIn recommendations about her bookkeeping services is from one of my connections and, crucially, from someone whose opinion I would value highly. I am now in a much more comfortable position. I can also see from the profile’s endorsements that she has also been endorsed by people I know. I now have both trust and positive information on my side, as well as a testimonial from someone I know. Excellent!

I have spent a lot of time sourcing the LinkedIn ingredients through my networking activities, and it’s now time to eat the cake! So what shall I do? Which is the way forward?

Do you use your LinkedIn network?
LinkedIn contacts are more familiar

My immediate line of enquiry would be to Business A and maybe to one or two others from my first line connections before contacting Business B who I would not otherwise have been aware of but for this Google experiment or without searching my second line connections.

The difference is in the relationships; it would be a warm start to reach out to Business A and my other first line connections. I know them and they already know about me and – more than that – they have a knowledge and understanding of my proofreading, editing, copywriting and blogging services. No need for any introductions or explanations!


What’s your strategy for seeking to engage with different professions for your business? Where would you conduct your first line of enquiry and how do you establish the confidence to make that initial enquiry? Would you use Google like my networking friend or would you interrogate your trusty LinkedIn database?


Photo credit: TheSeafarer / Foter / CC BY, Photo credits: Paul Watson / / CC BY-NC-SA, Photo credit: nan palmero / Foter / CC BY, Photo credit: Stuck in Customs / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

2014 01 UKBA Shortlisted Image

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Lindsay McLoughlin has a love affair with social media. She combines these tools to great effect with her other big love – blogging! She runs a copywriting, blogging, editing and proofreading service at She loves talking to and interacting with anyone that will “listen” over social media. Check out her blog at or connect with her on social media. She’d be delighted!

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16 Responses to How do you use the LinkedIn and Google search engines?

  1. Lindsay – just read this blog and I found it very thought provoking! I like to think that I am an active user of LinkedIn with over 500 connections but I must say I haven’t conducted searches like you have outlined above as I would have normally gone straight to Google – might do things differently from now on!

    • Thank you for your kind comments, Karen. I bet, with 500+ connections, you might have several bookkeepers at your fingertips! You might even have had coffee with them. Really glad that I might have helped you to think differently.

  2. Useful article. I’m forever promoting LinkedIn to my clients and some of them just don’t get it. Although, last week, after several negative comments, one of them commented to me that LinkedIn is now (finally) their favourite tool! Hallelujah!

    • Thank you, Barbara. There is definitely a theme coming through that LinkedIn users are not using it to its full potential. I have been very heartened by some people who have said they will think of it differently from now on. As both a user and a lover of LinkedIn, I also say “Hallelujah!”

  3. Hi Lindsey

    It can be second nature to think of using search engines i.e. google to search when logging onto the web.

    Which is such a shame when in fact the likes of LinkedIn can be far more informative. Thank you for sharing this and helping other businesses.

    • Thank you, Claire. I think you’re right. I sometimes find I am online and tuning into Google to find something without a conscious thought. Google definitely has its place, but LinkedIn is a really valuable skills database.

  4. Hi Lindsay,
    Very thought-provoking, especially as we offer bookkeeping services ourselves!

    I certainly use Linkedin when I am searching for some information on a specific person or business, but hadn’t thought to use it as a general search tool in the way you describe, but it makes perfect sense.

    Normally I rely on recommendations and networking, and this is rather cleverly approaching it from the other direction – finding the person through the linkedin search and then seeing which contacts we have in common to then go to for the recommendation (or otherwise!)

    Thank you for such an interesting article

    • Thank you, Katherine. I am a bit of a LinkedIn fan and have been treating it like a database for some time. It really is a very valuable tool that should not be underestimated – or forgotten! I’m really pleased you found my blog post useful. I am glad you enjoyed it and thank you for the comments.

  5. A great article Lindsay, thanks for sharing you insight. I think you message holds true for those seeking to do research and connect with organisations as part of their job search strategy. I’ll be forwarding this to my network. Cheers

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