Did the Network kill networking?
As a child of the late 70’s and college grad of the late 90’s I am late GEN X-er who is lucky enough to have experienced the world with and without the internet. I feel lucky for that because growing up without iPads and Wii’s forced my friends and I to invent thousands of games and sports to keep us entertained (usually outside of the house). And, if we wanted to reach out to someone, we actually had to call them from our kitchen phone where our families could hear us crash and burn.
I was thinking about this after our internet crashed and our entire office was without it for nearly the whole day on Wednesday. There was this sense of helplessness and all I could think about was how spoiled we are with the internet and sites like LinkedIN, the job boards, Facebook, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I use these sites and Social Media as much as the next person – and they are effective. But researching, cold calling and direct recruiting seems to be casualties of this dependence on technology; something from a bygone era.
Contrary to what I hear from some recruiters, to me it’s debatable whether LinkedIN calls are actually even ‘cold calls’. I guess technically they are, but it’s partially a job board now and look for it to keep trending that way. To me, cold calling is blind dialing into a company and coming away with a prospect. It’s cleverness, aggression, action and creating something out of nothing. I don’t mean to sound ultra-old school here because I’m not. However, it’s important to be clear because that’s how blurred it’s become. I’m sure there are people out there who think calling Monster.com candidates is ‘cold’.
Much of blame for this of course is likely due to our short attention spans and our need for everything to happen instantly. Anyone else find themselves checking out of news articles after about 141 characters?? (Thanks Twitter!) Our clients are no different. More and more I get asked for “A” players and within a day or two they are asking if I have anyone. Finding true ‘A’ talent isn’t as easy as typing in a search term and plucking someone off the ‘boards’. It should take a week or two, unless you have a solid network already pipelined in a niche industry. Even then, if you want to present 2-3 solid candidates it’s not happening overnight.
Candidates are also in a situation where they are basically forced to communicate with prospective employers through email or an internet portal. On the whole, this is not such a bad thing, as you can quickly find dozens of jobs, where in the past it seemed more of a prolonged hunt. Similarly, though, your success is determined by your ability to manipulate the internet and, to a large degree, luck of the draw. Ultimately, networking is still the most effective way to get an interview and the best candidates are using a two or three part strategy – past co-workers via LinkedIN, Professional Associations and Headhunters. I think Facebook is and will continue to be effective because it’s viral, but it’s in the early stages on the business end.
The best recruiters are likewise using a blend of both ‘smile and dial’ and Social Media to keep the odds in their favor and ensuring they don’t miss out on passive candidates. They go hand-in-hand and it’s easier than ever to source passive candidates because you can build high quality call lists using sites like LinkedIN and Jigsaw.
In closing – I highly recommend ‘unplugging’ every once in a while. Not only will it force you to be more aggressive and creative (giving you a much needed change in routine!!), but it’ll also increase your value-add, as you will find candidates organically that other recruiters can’t because they’re tethered to the net.