In the days before LinkedIn and social media, the key to networking was attentive listening and thoughtful consultation.
Recruiters have always needed to be active at the heart of their respective industries, but when social media arrived, they felt that it was enough to share the odd industry insight on the various platforms. They wanted people to see them on a regular basis, and viewed this visibility as being the new currency in online networking. You write a viral update about something marginally related to your job, you get a load of likes from lots of random people, and you feel that you are making an impact.
This sort of networking might make you feel good, but in terms of deepening the relationships that matter, it barely scratches the surface. You might be “connected” with two hundred members of your industry, but after the tenth attempt at going viral, most of them will have unfollowed you.
When you neglect your black book, your black book has the power to ignore you.
They will be highly unlikely to start following you again.
Now, as in the pre-social media days, we have to think abut how we can add genuine value to others. I wouldn’t dream of walking up to someone at a conference and discussing the sporting exploits of my kids. They are there for a reason, and that reason is to seek insight. If I am not able to offer them helpful insights, then there is no point in my being there.
For me, this is where content comes in, and it is a two-way street.
When I meet a new client, they often want to focus on how I will be sourcing the candidates, but I bring them back to the fact that they have to offer potential candidates value too. When a candidate checks out their HR Director online, what will they read? When the candidate browses the careers page, what messages will they receive? A company might have a talent pool in the hundreds of thousands, but if they are not nurturing that group of people with insights, they will switch off just as online followers switch off from an uninspiring connection.
People have a choice of whom to listen to on social media and there are ever-increasing amounts of tools that can turn off someone’s voice (or the voice of a company). If you neglect your black book, that fate is assured.
I am not sure that I have always done as much as I could for my network on LinkedIn, but I hope that I have always written things to make them think. I suppose that my thought for today is the simplest of them all.
You have a voice – by all means use it, but take care with what you say.
There is a balance to be found between ignoring people and bombarding them with a wall of noise. Nurturing my black book is about finding that happy medium.
Written by Alex Turner, Edited by Paul Drury