But, who you know that makes all the difference. This is particularly true for recruiting—I suspect you already know that. Recruiting, after all, is a people business. My goal today is to show you how being more focused and intentional about the relationships in your network can be the difference between being average and world class as a recruiter.
I want to be very clear about something up front. When I talk about recruiting, I’m not talking about posting ads or reviewing resumes.
I am also not talking about doing interviews or extending offers. Those may all be a part of the recruiting process, but that’s not recruiting.
Recruiting, by my definition, is what happens before someone applies for a job. Recruiting is about finding talent and getting them interested in opportunities. There is an increasing focus in the recruitment world recently on sourcing too, which is certainly part of recruiting, but is more about the skills need to find people. That’s not what we are going to focus on today. Our focus today is on how you, as a recruiter, can use the power of network and relationships to attract more talent to you.
I spent about 5 years in the contingency search business and during that time, I worked with the best pure recruiters that I’ve ever met. Her name was Jeanne and what made her extraordinary was her ability to find great talent. There were a lot of things that Jeanne did well, but the one that stands out for me the most was that she had a huge network of contacts who seemed to always be willing to help her with names and referrals. Jeanne was rich in what we call social capital.
Social capital is what we’re here to discuss today. In our time together today, we are going to answer three questions….So, let’s get started.
Having social capital is the difference between…
So, let’s recap. …Now, let’s talk about how you can grow your own social capital.
As a recruiter, youneed to do everything you can to roll out the welcome mat for everyone to find you, particularly the types of people who you most need to know for recruiting. As a recruiter, you have a huge advantage in this regard. You know about jobs. You have access to jobs. And PEOPLE need jobs. There’s a natural pull. How are you using that to build your network?
Social Networks provide the golden opportunity in this regard.
The other opportunity you have as recruiters is to become more accessible. It’s amazing to me how many recruiters are difficult to get a hold of. Granted, when you have jobs and people need jobs, you can spend a lot of time talking to people. I get it. You are busy. So, you hide behind the requisition. But, being accessible isn’t always about scheduling an interview or a phone call. It is about making it easy for people to find you and connect with you. That might be emails, social media or otherwise. In addition to social media, is your contact information on your company website? What if a really great candidate from your competitor wanted to explore an opportunity with your firm, but didn’t know anyone there. How difficult would it be for them to get on the phone with you? Being more open to connecting and letting people connect to you is the first step.
So, the good news and bad news is this: Networking for the sake of networking does not work. That’s why events that are designed for the sole purpose of networking often feel a bit awkward. It’s because unless you are naturally extroverted and you just love meeting people, it’s hard to find the common ground on which to connect. Social Capital, like happiness, is an outcome. It is a by-product of the pursuit of meaningful activity. Social capital can be effectively built through the formation of relationships during the pursuit of meaningful work or volunteerism. What does that mean?
Raise your hand to volunteer or get involved. As an HR leader, I felt it was my obligation to give back to the HR professional community. So, I have volunteered to help in a variety of different ways. One way was to create a one day conference for HR leaders in my community. I recruited some of my peers to get involved in the idea, and then we collectively put on a conference that is now going into it’s fourth year. Through the creation of this conference, I’ve gotten to know a lot of great people in my community and most of those HR leaders know me for my work as a volunteer. I have amassed social capital with these HR leaders not because I sought out to network with them, but because of some meaningful activity we’ve done together.
So, look for opportunities to get involved in meaningful activity. Another way to think of this is as “strategic volunteerism.” Volunteering your time in a way that helps you build the social capital you need. Here are some tips on how to do it.
Pick something that fits your interest and passions. It might be work related, volunteering for a project that is important to you, serving on a committee, coordinating an event for a professional association you belong to…or it might not have anything at all to do with work.
If you are going to volunteer or get involved, make sure you are committed to doing some work. Signing up for a project or volunteering to serve on a board where you aren’t willing to do the work will actually work against your social capital. It is through doing the work that you build relationships. If you aren’t willing to do the work, you not only miss out on the opportunity to connect with people, you also run the risk of developing a bad reputation.
Finally, remember the power of proximity. The true power of this law happens when you find something you are passionate about and you find a way to volunteer for that thing with the people who you most want to know. If you recruit for a particular kind of programmer and you are passionate about the environment, perhaps you can find a environmental advocacy group who is trying to create an online platform to drive change. The likelihood is that you’ll find at least some of the kinds of people you want to know involved in that project or would soon have a reason to find them. All while doing something that matters to you.
Here is the key to making meaningful activity work for you. It’s not about what you get, it’s about what you give. As recruiters, you have a lot to offer your connections. Remember, almost everyone needs work and you know a lot about that subject that you can share. Even if you just get involved in networking or affinity groups with an industry or field of work, remember to give back. Whatever you get involved in, create value and that will attract people to you.
Talk about how Jeanne would get the best candidates to call her back because of her personality: one part valley girl, one part wonder woman. She stood out and people took notice. They never mistook Jeanne for any other recruiter. She wasn’t even a recruiter in their mind. She was just Jeanne.
It is not enough just to connect to people. Collecting contacts on LinkedIn may feel like you are building a network, but if they won’t pick up the phone when you call them for help, then you don’t have any reach social capital. Building overlap is important, but to turbo charge your network means that you need to go a step or two further and use karma to your advantage.
Human brain is wired for reciprocity. That means that when someone does a favor for us, we are immediately compelled to return a favor to that person. We want to keep our relationships in the balance. When someone does a favor for you, they have made a deposit of good will with you that you are then waiting to repay. This is incredibly powerful if you put it to good use.
The easiest way to do this is to say yes. Use all of the resources, expertise and tools you have at your disposal to say yes to helping people as often as you can. If you can help someone and it’s a small investment of time or energy on your part, do it. It’s that simple. If you are doing a good job of being open to connecting and you are advertising to people that you are a recruiter, you will have people asking you for help. Help with how to job search. Help with resumes. Help with how to find jobs. Help with how to interview. 5 minutes of expertise is easy for you to share, but it could be invaluable to that person’s career. And they won’t forget you for it.
This of your network as a Karma Bank. The more you say yes to helping others, more investment you make in that bank. So when you need to use your social capital, if you’ve put a lot of karma into your network, your network will go out of their way to help you.
Remember what I said earlier, Social Capital is an outcome. The more you invest in the activity of connecting, the more you will reap. Building social capital takes time and it’s a process that never ends. It does, however, pay exponentially increasing returns to you over time. The more your social capital grows, the more opportunities you will have at your disposal. But, here’s the challenge. Social capital often suffers the same fate as our savings account. We know how valuable savings can be, but we collectively are terrible at having the discipline to save. We are much better at spending.
You will have to make time. Relationships take time. When you desperately need social capital, it’s too late to start creating it. You have to grow it in advance of needing it. As a recruiter, that means stepping out from behind the requisition and away from the pull to react to only the openings on your desk today so you can put aside at least a little time to build the network you need in the future.Building social capital by expanding your network will never look like an urgent task on your to do list. But, it may be one of the most important things you can do for your career. So, unless you very intentionally make investing in your network a part of your daily work, it just wont’ happen.
Remember, we’re talking about the difference between showing up to your work as an individual or…
Becoming a rock star recruiter by having the power of a posse working for you as your recruit. The choice is up to you.
Harnessing the power of social capital for recruiters 03 24 13
Jason Lauritsen • CEO, Talent Anarchy • Former HR Executive• Over 10 yrs. Recruiting • Wrote a book about Social Capital