David released some of the initial results of our elite recruiter study a couple of weeks back .
One of the areas that was ranked as an area for improvement was Leveraging Networks. It just came up again the other day during an intriguing conversation with a client and I thought it was a topic that warrants further discussion.
We discussed that while 70% of people still find jobs through networking (according to Bureau of Labor), people spend less than 20% of their time “networking” to find a job. And if this is true, how much of a recruiter’s time should be spent developing relationships and networking to find quality candidates?
The point was well taken.
To level set the discussion – The definition from our competency/skill model is as follows:
Leveraging Networks: Draws upon a wide range of professional and/or business relationships for help and support in achieving individual and organizational goals.
After I thought more about this topic, it’s not surprising that recruiters rank themselves low here. Let’s face it. It takes work to maintain an internal and external network that can assist you in performing your work more effectively. This alone takes more time than most of us have in a day.
So if you think this is an area for improvement for you, following are a few techniques to consider:
- The Lost Art of Investigative Questioning – Of course you need to have a robust network to leverage it. Most struggle to develop a network of professionals they can leverage for sourcing talent, etc. Using specific, probing questions with your Centers of Influence can exponentially improve your ability to build a strong network.
- How Many Friends do you have – If you don’t invest time in maintaining the relationships and helping out your “friends” in your network, don’t expect them to be responsive to your request! Invest time in identifying how many true “friends” you have within your network and building upon this list over time.
- Growing your friends network – Check out this post to discuss some simple tactics to grow your friends network! Some things to consider:
- Prioritize the relationships – Focus your networking and energy on those that can help you with both your current and long-term problems. For work-related problems, this might be a peer or someone who is a level above you. For industry-related issues, this might be a peer at another company. Whoever it is, block time to spend with that person consistently, and stay connected!
- Don’t waste your time on the wrong people - Stop spending energy on a relationship that’s not giving something back to you. Don’t keep helping others out if you realize they really aren’t helping you.
While all these tactics will help you create and grow a powerful network, probably the single biggest deterrent from you having a robust, interactive network of friends is having the DISCIPLINE to carve out the time to develop it!
Building your network needs to become part of your daily/weekly routine. I personally have developed the good habit of blocking off 30 minutes a day (I plan it into my Perfect Day Routine to develop my network and hit all of my news, websites, and blogs for industry information.
I know. This is easier said than done. And by no means can I say I do this 5 days a week/52 weeks a year!
Some behavior modification tips/techniques to help you build this “good habit”:
- Post a note on your screen – - Am I building my Friends Network today?
- Have a list of your “friends” network. Set a goal each quarter to grow this list. Make this goal “public” and post it in your office (i.e., – I will have 350 friends in my network by June 30, 2010. Review every month for growth. ).
- Try to carve out 30 minutes of time when you are least likely to be interrupted. First thing in morning before you leave your house for work? End of day? Lunch? Friday afternoon?
- Hold a contest with your fellow recruiters. Who can develop the most amount of new friends in the next 90 days?
With the instant access we have to millions of people, we often forget to develop lasting relationships that will and can benefit us in so many ways. INVEST in your network and it will provide dividends along the way.