Today I’m interviewing four people for two jobs – and each of them have come to us on a personal recommendation (sorry, headhunters). All of them have come via our networks – we know people who know them. In particular, one has come because I asked someone in exactly the industry we wanted, if he could recommend someone from his network – and he did.
Not every job can and should be recruited for in a closed network way. But actually, meritocracy is at work in the networks: What sociologist Mark Granovetter famously called “Weak Tie” theory, more than forty years ago, namely that you are more likely to get a job through word of mouth and friends-of-friends than via traditional recruitment.
Anyone can get to hear about jobs if they are well networked. But there is something else. Someone has to recommend you (generosity) and someone has to ask about you (getting). And at the heart of this A-to-B process is an exchange of knowledge.
Knowledge Bartering works far more widely than job searching or job giving. Every time you speak to someone you are giving – whether you realise it or not – some kind of intelligence they may not have, or may not value. Your conversation could change their perspective or their luck.
Likewise, asking for knowledge is as important as giving it, something we sometimes feel squeamish about. This is the “Give & Take” era of reciprocity as written about so well by Adam Grant of Wharton Business School.
Get out there. Get asking. Get giving. Right now, I’m back to the recuirtment. Know anyone smart out there?
I just received an email from a friend, suggesting that I book tickets to hear a pianist in concert on a forthcoming Sunday morning. “It’s the most divine experience & you will bless me for telling you about it” she said, so I booked to see/hear Jeffrey Siegel and the Piano Conversation and will report back.
Another recommendation this week, from Helga Henry, a member of our eiClub at Editorial Intelligence. who kindly put in my hand the brochures for two things which had not yet been fully on my radar.
A friend in publishing regularly recommends titles or just puts a copy of a book she thinks I might like in the post to me, and the trust I place in her personalised, customised choice is generally rewarded: I usually like what she sends, and I usually make what noise I can by word of mouth and on social media about the author.
I already bless my actor friend before even seeing Jeffrey Seigel because she has helped me overcome the tyranny of of indecision, of choice, of finding jewels in the jetsam and flotsam of possibilities which swirl past us every second.
These recommendations are not just acts of generosity, they are acts of curation and of navigation. The value of being directed with a friendly guiding hand towards something which is enjoyable, and which keeps you smart and up to speed is, I believe, a defining element of connection today.
So send someone you know an email, or put a note on a leaflet and stick it to a postcard and put it in the post to someone you like with a note: “I thought you might like this”. And do you know, they probably will.