Attracting Diverse Talent through LinkedIn Open Mic Night

January 12, 2017

At LinkedIn, we pride ourselves on our culture -- it’s at the core of everything we do, and our competitive advantage. A key reason we believe LinkedIn has been successful is that part of that culture involves encouraging our teams to take intelligent risks. Recently my team took a risk that reinforced for current employees what makes LinkedIn such a unique place to work and helped us bring that to life for potential employees as well.

Typical recruiting events follow a pretty standard formula: Invite talent to an open house event, talk about the company culture, mission, vision, products and specific roles, then have attendees network with hiring managers and recruiters. And for us, it works pretty well. But, it should come as no surprise then that if you don’t mix up the strategy, you won’t see different results. With this particular open house, we wanted to attract Black and Latino sales professionals. We knew if we wanted to really connect with this audience and pull off a successful event that left people talking, we’d have to take a fresh approach.  

Enter the “big” idea: LinkedIn would host an open mic event to give people a chance to be their authentic selves in an environment normally reserved for formal business conversations. Our goal was to give attendees a sense of belonging they’d likely never felt at a networking event before.  

This brings us back to intelligent risk. Live performances can be unpredictable -- people get caught up in the moment, views or language shared may not always resonate with everyone in the crowd. It can also be a challenge to get candidates who are not actively looking for a new role to take time out of their day to attend any kind of recruiting event. But we knew the upside would be huge -- and if it didn’t work we’d learn and iterate. To make sure we approached this in the right way we partnered with members of our Black and Latino Employee Resource Groups on the global sales team. We knew they would be advocates and partners who would be critical to the success of the event itself.

Taking the risk paid off. In November, we hosted our first ever open mic event geared towards building relationships with talented individuals referred by our Black and Latino employees.

Nearly 100 Black and Latino sales professionals networked with hiring managers, recruiters and employees. The open mic line-up included performances from LinkedIn employees, external performers and a few brave guests. After a solid hour of performances that brought people to their feet, the night transitioned to more traditional networking. The performances, hiring managers and attendees, were excited, relaxed and eager to network.

Intelligent Risks Pay Off

In this instance, taking a risk paid off. An unprecedented 96% of attendees told us they’d recommend this event to a friend.

This year, we are looking forward to expanding and iterating on this idea as well as welcoming several new team members who will be joining us in the near future as a result of the strong sense of belonging they felt at the open mic night.

What big ideas will you pursue this year?

It’s 2017. This could be the start of taking intelligent risks that pay off. #StartSomething