Networking as a Recruitment Tool

Maybe I’m deeply in the wrong with this one – but I have a feeling that today’s recruitment is mostly done from laptop/mobile phone! People look at people’s profiles (wherever), people call people for recommendations, people put ads online to find people… And of course – it’s logical, fast and cost efficient. We live busy lives with ever limiting resources. What can one good recruiter do? Become good in assessing people based on their CV’s and profiles. And maybe a couple of recommendations.

But let’s move away for a moment from the mass recruitment concept and just fulfilling the needs of a company. Let’s move to haute couture of recruitment. Let’s say that someone wants an amazing, fantastic, talented, best ever, winning team! Don’t we all want that? (See my post I’m Sorry I’m Talented).

And let’s also focus on my second most important topic (after the timing issue) – the casting. If a director and/or producer wants to have perfect casting for the movie, the mandatory thing is to watch at least a few movies of the actors who are going to read for the role. The exception is my hero Paul Verhoeven. While casting for his 1995 classic Showgirls all actresses rejected to dance nude so he ended up with Elizabeth Berkley. (read more and see some photos here)

But how do we get to „watch a few movies“ of our potential employees in business? How can we be sure (apart from the interview and other HR tools) that that person is exactly what we want?

I would say that the best way is to use networking.

Networking is a tricky word that means different worlds for different people. For some, it’s core of their businesses – sales roles, real-estate, external relations etc. Some other professions see networking as connecting two devices via fast enough Wi-Fi or cable. Somewhere in between we have many others who network mostly internally and from time to time they visit some associations and conferences. But, actually, having to decide to network isn’t always necessary.

When you have any kind of external communication try to pay attention not only to your goals or the topic that you are discussing. Try to understand and to access the person you are talking to as well. First of all, it will help you finish your job much better and second – you will start creating your own recruitment data base.

As always, I will tell you couple of stories.

Right guy at the wrong place

Once I had to go to a meeting of a company that I haven’t respected much. They were a kind of a „necessary evil“ that I had to deal with at the time, but I have to say I’m happy that for quite a number of years I won’t have to do any business with them. For the most part, the people from that company were also not ones that I would like to spend time with or have anything more than necessary business discussions.

This time we were hosted by a new guy – totally different then what we expected. He was smart, well educated, polite, perfectly dressed, talkative but not too pushy… I was quite surprised. We continued to work with him and everything was quite good.

At one point I needed a sales person for my team. And I remembered this guy. Our brands were a perfect match to him. Classy, sophisticated, premium, good looking, smart… He would represent our brands much better than anyone I know. Unfortunately, things went wrong with some other things and we were not able to hire him. But a few years later I figured out that this guy got a great job and a global role for a world-wide giant and one of the coolest brands ever.

I’m absolutely sure he would be a perfect fit for my company at the time. But simply the timing was not right.


Next one…

Back to student life!

A long time ago I was a judge in a case study competition. It was such a nice flash back to student days. Many enthusiastic young people, a lot of team spirit, a lot of drinking, a lot of fun. And quite a lot of nerves during the competition. Also, very good networking opportunity outside of your usual world. Chatting with students, being engaged by professors trying to get some insight for their teams…

There were some good teams and some teams that weren’t as good, but in one of the teams that were quite good but not the best during the presentation, one young lady stood out. Her teammate blocked totally. Ruined the presentation. But she stood still and pushed the team forward.

Fast forward. I’m recruiting youngsters for my marketing team. And I invite her for an interview. I remember that my thoughts on here were: whatever happens she will stand still. And she will survive. Because, the company I was working for at the time was not much of a place for young marketers. They would usually get destroyed by editorial teams. So I needed a survivor. But a talented one.

And I was right. Not only did she survive but she made a fantastic career progress and in some of the most critical situations that we ever had she stood still like that day of presentation when one of her team members destroyed their chances to win.

Point is that I would never figure out her just from the interview. Or any kind of test.

Today she has an amazing career and I’m still very proud that I recognized her talent and supported her during those couple of years we worked together.

And the last one…

Learning from mistakes. Big mistakes.

I once met a very nice lady who worked for a company that we had a limited but good cooperation with. She was not so happy with the company due to the nature of the industry and I needed a senior marketing professional.

This was a perfect example of recruitment through networking. We met through business. I recognized she might be good match for us. She thought that we were the perfect environment for her. We had a couple of talks. I even saw her working during some events she did.

But I made a mistake. We talked in the form of an interview. And I saw her working in situations where everything was prepared in advance without any surprises. And she worked for a company that had for years very well developed procedures and paths that one should follow.

When she started working we realized very quickly that she is not capable of creating anything from scratch. If there was no procedure she couldn’t do it. She was not capable of making a concept and pushing it forward. She was good in communication with people, but nothing was moving forward for weeks. She was able to understand everything but totally incapable of doing something with it.

So we had to say goodbye to each other pretty fast.

I want to conclude underlining that networking for recruitment is not drinking cocktails with someone or attending conferences and chit-chatting during breaks. It can start from there. But it’s very good if you can see someone in the working environment, in a stressful situation, in her/his team, in front of her/his superiors… Then you can make a much better assessment and decide if that’s the perfect match for your team. If you do that well, then interview can be only about formal issues. Like salary. And benefits.

Cheers to networking! Anyhow many people think that’s the only thing I’m doing for years now. And I’m not going to ruin their dreams!




2 thoughts on “Networking as a Recruitment Tool

  1. Simon Sinek said that creation of environment is the key to doing remarkable things.Trust and cooperation being in the heart of every team.
    In my view,word of mouth remains on the very top of all other marketing tools.Therefore it is well worth investing in networking, as eventually most contacts end in contracts!Not to mention the cost efficiency,as an alternative to costly recruitment process incl. expensive psychometrics tests etc.
    Great post Stevan!

    Liked by 1 person

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