If you are hiring people now, you know that there are plenty of great candidates. How do you discover the best of them? Often, great candidates come to your attention because of their networking. That means if you want to be a great hiring manager, you need to pay attention to and cultivate your network.
I was coaching a manager recently who was going through a rough patch in his organization. I asked what the worst thing was that could happen. He said, “I could be fired and have to find a new job.” Since he's been working for more than 20 years, I said,
“You have plenty of contacts, surely you can at least network with people, right?”
He sheepishly said, “I have not been keeping up with my networking.”
Ouch. Managers need to develop and maintain their networks, especially if they are not looking for a job. People will see you as a resource. You will hear about the people looking for jobs before others do. You can provide candidates information on people in your network who are hiring. You can introduce people. People at all levels will want to stay in touch with you.
(If you've been to any of my management talks, you know I talk about getting rid of people who can't jell with a team or can't do the work. If you have one of those employees, you can find someone in your network to take that person off your hands. People work better in some places rather than others. Take advantage of your network to move those people out of your organization. Yes, this is why you should network with your competitors.)
Here's what I do:
- Decide which networking site you decide to use. I like LinkedIn. You might decide to use some other site, but for me, LinkedIn is right for business.
- Make sure you have a complete profile on whatever site you choose. I'm always amazed when people ask for help networking and they don't have a recent professional picture, or they haven't completed their experience portion of their profile. When you ask people to connect, they may not remember you. Seeing your smiling face will help them remember.
- Make connections with your colleagues at organizations you've worked for in the past, alumni groups from those organizations, managers you've known, school alumni groups, possibly even religious affiliation groups. Connect with people you know are professionals and will be willing to network with you.
- Affiliate yourself with like-minded people. If you're serious about networking, make sure you join a group or two. (If you are like me, you can't help but join lots of groups.) Then make sure you connect directly with the people in those groups.
- If you have a blog or personal site, link to it. If you don't have a personal site, link to your company's site or blog.
The more work-based information people can discover about you, the more valuable you will be to them in their networking. And, once they find a job, they will think of you and how valuable you were to them. Now, you may well be the person they think of first. And that is the essence of networking–how to be the person other people think of first.
Hiring managers, or even plain managers, or technical leads, or anyone who thinks they might need to find a job in the future: pay attention to your network. Spend a few minutes every week asking people to connect. I'll talk about recommendations in the next post.