Network Is Important, But Quality Trumps Quantity Every Time

Have you ever played Top Trumps? Whether it was supercars, sports stars, wildlife or skyscrapers, the packs of cards would dazzle you with data – power, speed, height and so on.

It’s natural to size things up by looking at the numbers, and stats alone often make an impression. But it’s the context of these figures and the value behind them that really count.

Many employers want to know how big a recruiter’s network is, but there’s little meaning in that when what they are ultimately seeking is not a high volume of candidates but high calibre. In recruitment, quality trumps quantity every time.

Social and professional networks like LinkedIn make it relatively easy to find who is who. Recruiters who play the numbers game may be seeking to impress but in truth it often reveals a weak hand. When it’s just an accumulation of names, that’s not actually a network, it’s a database.

The key issue is the value of contacts, and the ability to access and engage candidates so that we qualify and attract only the best people. Small numbers? Preferably. High quality? Definitely.

Contacts vs connections

Three questions for you.

1. How many LinkedIn contacts do you have?

2. How many could you name or have you had any real connection with?

3. How many would you personally recommend to an important contact of yours?

This illustrates a fundamental difference between contacts and connections. Like Top Trumps, it’s not how many you collect but how well you know them and how to play to their strengths! Network is important, but reaching quality people with an engaging approach makes all the difference. Not simply cold-calling a list of names that you may have vaguely spoken to in the past or managed to add on LinkedIn.

Most of the prospects our clients and potential partners would like to talk to aren’t actively looking for a new role. They are happy and successful where they are and probably don’t want to be taking calls from ‘recruiters.’ Getting to talk to them, building a positive reputation and having a variety of roles to discuss with them over time, with the ability to listen to what people are really interested in (and what they are not), are the critical factors.

At Oakstone we have very strong networks, but our ability to find and connect with the next great people – and our relentless appetite to do so – is what really sets us apart. This is why a majority of clients choose to work with Oakstone either on an exclusive or retained basis.

By comparison, recruiters working through a long list of contact names or a pile of CVs tend to believe their chances are improved by holding as many cards as possible. In reality, it’s difficult to manage such a large hand and it skews the recruiter’s view towards breadth, rather than depth of talent. This is common when prospects are being filtered at a glance by top-line statistics. Without true connections and personal knowledge, clever matches often go unnoticed. A missed opportunity for clients and candidates.

It’s all about the quality of engagement, not the volume of people available to engage with.