The Science of Networks
By Cheryl Stein
Monster Business Coach
Monster Business Coach
There are hundreds of articles that have been written for the job seeker about the importance of networking. These articles aim to teach a person who is searching for a career change all the tricks of creating and maintaining a wide network of friends and acquaintances. The idea being, that if you want to have a better chance of finding the perfect opportunity for you career, you need to make sure that you create lots of connections with lots of different people in order to get the most help achieving that goal. What these articles fail to talk about is the importance of networking for the HR professional.
Talent Management VS HR
It is very easy to create an HR department. You hire a bunch of professionals that have experience in the rules and regulations of the workplace. You have them work on competency models for your hiring practices. You task them with coming up with innovative interviewing and on-boarding strategies. All of this is essential to having good people working for you. But good talent management is very different from good HR. The concept of Talent Management is to always be looking out for the greatest possible employee for your company and to always be creating opportunities for people to excel in your workplace.
This is where networking comes in. Managing the talent of your organization means knowing the profile of the type of person that you are looking for and always being on the lookout for people who will be great assets to your organization. If you want to do this consistently and well, you need to make sure that your web of contacts is constantly evolving.
Six Degrees of Separation
Networking isn’t just something you should be doing. It’s actually a science. Duncan Watts, associate professor of sociology at Columbia University wrote a book called “Six Degrees of Separation” which talks about something called “small world theory”. The idea of it being a really small world is that you are literally connected to anybody in the world by at most six degrees of separation. That means for any one of you who are reading this article, you literally know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone else who knows someone who knows me. It’s scary but true. The world is actually much more connected than we ever thought.
Why does this matter to you?
Finding great talent isn’t as hard as you think as long as you are constantly growing and maintaining your networks.
Think of it this way. We all know a whole bunch of people from the different things that we do in our lives. We know people from school, we know people from work, we know people from whatever it is that we do outside work. All of these different networks put us in contact with a whole bunch of people who don’t necessarily know each other. At some given point in time, we know almost all the people that are associated with that network. If we need something, we generally go to our network to get whatever it is we are looking for. Need a tutor for your kids, go to your network. Need a good deal on a car, go to your network. Need to get information about something; your network is where you go for answers.
The more networks you have, the greater your access to information is. What this means as the person responsible for hiring talent for your company is that the more networks you have, the greater the possibility of you being able to fill a position with a fantastic candidate because great people don’t necessarily come across your desk in the form of a resume. Finding great talent is what is often very helpful in creating and maintaining a great company.
Growing your network so you have a pool of people to pull from when you need someone great to fill an open position is a way better strategy than scrambling when you need to hire someone.
Better to Give than to Receive.
Networking well is a skill. You don’t just show up at an event, meet people and your job is done. A good networker is a person who is open, helpful and positive.
They are willing to introduce people to others and make connections. We have a natural tendency to keep information to ourselves and not share. We think it is smart to keep the best for ourselves. The opposite is true. If you meet a great candidate that you can’t use at the moment but know someone who can, the positive energy generated by that act will come back to you. This person will talk about how great you are to all the people they know. Your reputation as a wonderful person will grow. When you do need someone, people will want to work for you because of this reputation and you will have a greater chance of getting someone fantastic because of what they heard.
Save it for Later
A good networker keeps in touch with lots of great people who might be potentially good for their company. They may not have a position open right away, but they know that keeping relationships going with fantastic people gives them access to a stable of candidates when an opportunity opens up.
Where to Network
There are the obvious places that people who are in business will be. Your local chambers of commerce is a great place to start. Charity events are my favorite because this is a place to go to meet people who are givers. A person that is donating money or time to a charity is generally a person with good values. They care about people other than themselves. But more importantly, everywhere you go is an opportunity to meet new people and discover new networks.
The days of sitting back and hoping great talent will come to you are over. To remain competitive and to attract the best people, don’t wait for a good resume to cross your desk. Develop and maintain your networks so you can say that you are managing your talent.