Have you ever been at a party and been surprised when you met people who shared your birthday? It’s actually not too surprising. Birthdays tend to cluster, just like defects in code.
It’s the same thing with networks. People tend to cluster around “connectors”—people who are well-connected. Some people are not as well-connected, and that’s okay, too. If those people are connected to the highly connected people, they both have terrific networks.
This is called a “small world network.” You go to a party, meet someone, realize you know someone in common, and say, “It’s a small world.” It’s the same thing online, except that with social media, it’s magnified.
How many times have you looked around in social media and noticed that people are tweeting or posting similar stories? We see memes, or what’s trending all the time. If you look at what’s trending, you might have noticed that it doesn’t matter who started the trend. It matters that people pick up the trend.
If enough people pick up the meme, then the power law distribution comes into play. What’s that? That’s a fancy word for the 80/20 rule, also known as Pareto’s Law.
If you’re a developer or a tester or writer or business analyst (I could go on, you know who you are), you know that your customers only use about 20% of your product. The only question is, which 20%? Well, it turns out that about 20% of the people in your network are highly connected. If you catch their attention, and they promote something, they can turn that something into a trend. That’s the power law distribution at work.
What does this mean for the future of recruiting? Is there a way we can use the power law distribution and small world networks?
If you advertise a job on Twitter and a highly connected person sees it and retweets it, their followers will see it. Boom, you’ve got many more potential eyeballs on it and the possibility of a meme, or a trending tweet. That’s not likely, but the potential for a retweet is there.
It’s much more likely that your networking for candidates will improve. Did you know that you are more likely to fill a job with a loose connection?
Recruiters have always known that you ask people, “Do you know anyone who might be a fit for this job?” But now, you might phrase that differently. You might say, “Think about your larger network, people you don’t see very often. Are any of those people a fit for this job?”
When you phrase it like that, people start thinking about their loose connections. That’s their 80%, the people who are their loose connections. If these people have been maintaining contact with these loose connections, they’ve been adding these connections to their LinkedIn contacts. Now, it’s easy to make introductions. Maybe they are Twitter peeps. It’s still easy to introduce each other. If not, it’s just a little more difficult.
You might think in this always-on world, we would be more high-tech and less high-touch. Not so. The future of recruiting is in using our tools to be more high-touch, to reach more people and make a real connection.
So, tell me, when is your birthday? Wouldn’t it be funny if it was the same day as mine?