Linked Latinos

Before you finish reading the first paragraphs of this column, one Latino will be turning 18 years old. Yes, every 30 seconds one Hispanic will be celebrating his 18th birthday but also the path to adulthood, representing an important opportunity for a wide range of businesses and organizations.

Employers, universities, and politicians are all trying to seduce this fast-growing segment. And social media can be a very powerful tool for that. I’m not thinking about Facebook or Twitter, but of a more silent yet fast growing network: LinkedIn.

In Search of Latinos on LinkedIn

LinkedIn growth among Latinos is impressive: more than 100 percent in a year. According to comScore, by June 2011, 10 percent of Latinos online used LinkedIn. That is 3.1 million versus 1.4 in that same month in 2010.

Yet, finding Latinos online can be challenging, as Giovanni Rodriguez wrote in his article “Where are all Latinos on LinkedIn?

I ran a search on LinkedIn and using both Latino and Hispanic terms, combined results showed only 112,000 people. That means that a mere 3.6 percent of the total Latinos on LinkedIn identified themselves as either Latinos or Hispanics. The same happened when I searched for active jobs. Only 82 jobs shown were related to either Latino or Hispanic terms, 0.18 percent of the total (45,501) jobs that were active. I also tried a search that included Spanish, and even though the results were higher (790), it still was less than 2 percent of all jobs on LinkedIn.

The Latino Nature of Groups

Latinos make up 14.3 percent of the workforce, a much higher presence than the one shown in my LinkedIn search mentioned above. It’s pretty clear to me that there’s a missed opportunity.

From a business perspective, LinkedIn Groups represent an excellent option to target Latinos. There are many Latino (and or Hispanic) identified groups totaling 1,370. From the National Society of MBA to Marketing Professional Associations, these groups have thousands of members and keep growing.

Reaching out to LinkedIn Groups means not only reaching the final audience, but, more importantly, reaching the influential Latinos.

For example, Doris Aguirre – a seasoned recruiter in the marketing industry – created a group that discusses Latino marketing issues. She has already reached almost 700 influential members in her group, and that can be very useful for potential job searches.

Also, you can use Groups to target Latino-related professionals. I say related because the notion of Latino shouldn’t be limited to actual Latinos. When looking for a bilingual sales rep, any American that is fluent in Spanish might qualify. A Latin American arts professor doesn’t necessarily have to be Latino but rather have the educational background to fill that position.

Latinizing LinkedIn

Latinos make up 23 percent of the 17 and under U.S. population (over 17 million). This is a 39 percent increase in 10 years. If you are either looking for a partner, recruiting, or want to spread an idea or have someone to vote for it, LinkedIn provides a unique opportunity to target Latinos.

Here are some initial thoughts on how:

  • Engage in LinkedIn Groups, don’t just simply join. Provide content and be an active part of the conversation. Or create one on a subject that’s not already covered.
  • Identify Latino leaders in specific fields (HR, marketing, sales, education, social media, etc.) and start building relationships. Don’t wait till the moment you need a leader or help.
  • When posting job opportunities, think how they can be relevant to Latinos. Your responses can increase exponentially.
  • Make sure to include both Latino and Hispanic terms in your profile or in the jobs that you are posting.
  • Ask your Latino employees to join groups that might be relevant for potential needs to your company.
  • Post your company news, links to recent blog posts and your Twitter feed, etc. on LinkedIn.
  • Make your company profile relevant to Latino professionals .

As I covered in previous columns, Latinos are leading a social media explosion. And this also applies to LinkedIn, so don’t wait till you see it in the headlines. Start leveraging this opportunity before your competition does.

Remember, every 30 seconds a Latino turns 18 years old. Think how many minutes it took you to read this column and do the math.

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