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?