Some recruiters seem to have a pretty loose interpretation about certain things. They refer to businesses that they have never done work with as ‘clients’. They claim that they are ‘specialists’ in their sector after just a few months of experience. They brand themselves as ‘the market leading agency in the sector’ based on absolutely nothing.
They also have some odd ideas about what constitutes being part of their ‘network’.
For me, someone in my network is someone who will pick up the phone when I call…or will at least call me back. If I bump into them in the street we will say hello and exchange pleasantries. We’ll share little bits of news / juicy gossip that we think the other might be interested in and we’ll ask favours of each other from time to time. We’ll take the piss out of each other on a Monday morning because of a sporting result over the weekend. We’ll catch up for a drink, or lunch, or a round of golf every now and then. Don’t get me wrong….they probably won’t be my best mate or round at my house on Christmas day…but they are somewhere between an acquaintance and a friend.
I also have a lot of connections on LinkedIn, a bunch of Twitter followers and about 3,000 or so people who read this blog every week. In the time I have been doing this job I have interviewed and met hundreds of recruiters .I have attended numerous conferences, events and meet-ups where I exchanged business cards and small talk with lots of recruiters. And I’ve put a lot of those names into my CRM over the years so it’s pretty chockablock in there. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are in my network – not the type of network that I talk about when I am telling a client why I’ll be able to fill their vacancy.
Having a long list of names somewhere is not a network,; it is just a long list of names somewhere. Being aware of someone is not the same as knowing them. Even knowing someone does not necessarily mean they are in your network. Some of the people I know wouldn’t pick up the phone to me…. some might cross the street to avoid me …so I can hardly claim they are in my network.
We are constantly being told by the recruitment glitterati that to be successful in the future it is all about the ability to reach and influence the talent that others can’t…in other words your network. But not your bullshit, made up, “I’m connected to them on LinkedIn” or “it’s on our CRM so it counts” type of network.
We know that some recruiters like to make claims they often cannot justify…. they call it ‘selling’! So when you are talking to a prospective client, challenge them on what your competitors are selling as their network. Or when you are looking to hire a recruiter because of their ‘strong network’ challenge them to justify it. Similarly, if you are thinking about joining a new agency that has a ‘deep network you can leverage off” don’t just take their word for it.
As the saying goes, it’s not about the size, but what you do with it.