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Raise Your (Social) Hand and Refer a Friend

By: Jerry Thurber Wednesday October 29, 2014 comments Tags: hr innovation, hr trends and ideas, social HR

In the not too distant future, will people hire you based on the strength of your connections in Linked In and other social and professional networks? Is it happening today? Should it ever happen? Hire me – I know HR Margo! (With all apologies to Margo for admitting that we are connected on Twitter) 

There is a constant struggle to find high-performers in any organization. Companies have tried all sorts of things to figure out how to beat “dumb luck” as the best way to find that special person who is able to contribute more than any of his/her peers. Employee referrals, new fangled interview techniques, improved reference checking have all had their go at the problem with varying degrees of success. In the 90’s and early 2000’s job fit assessment tests were all the rage. One company I worked with in the late 90’s spent several hundred thousand dollars building a complex assessment tool to figure out what made top performing store managers so special. Could they use assessment science to improve their odds? It worked, a little bit. 

Now I hear talk of a new trend: Who do you know. 

It is not as crazy as it seems. The basic premise of the “Who do you know” school is that really good people tend to cluster around each other like an exclusive flock of birds soaring around in a Starling-like murmuration. Good people know other good people, and they often stay in touch.

If you don’t believe me, look at Twitter. People connect randomly to people all over the place, but in any profession or special interest (Like HR) you will notice that there is a core of folks that rule the pack, and hang together closely. These people are real influencers (not to be confused with those weird ego-games that Klout seems to measure). But are they also great contributors in their own companies? They might be. Here are a few things to consider about leveraging good people’s networks:

  • Good people are usually great at recommending other good people (just ask a recruiter)
  • Good people often fit the axiom: “If you want a job well done, give it to the busiest person”
  • Good people like to get things done and like to hang out with other people who think that way too
  • Good people thrive on success and want to be a part of any team that likes new challenges
  • And lots of good people are making a noise on social media

The challenge for the “Who do you know” movement is to show value and consistency. Do social media contacts help you understand a candidate’s potential value? If you are a recruiter – do those contacts really help you discover hidden gems? Innotrieve thinks so

While I might feel like the famous remark by Groucho Marx that “Any organization that would accept me as a member, I would not want to be a part of,” the opposite might be true for many of you! (OK - for at least some of you).

If you are out there – we’ll find you. 

 

About the Author: Jerry Thurber