The combined power of your employees’ networks is truly staggering. And as the era of big data picks up speed, professional networks are growing in size and importance. Your path to success is paved with the contents of your employees’ networks.
Using existing relationships to achieve business objectives is more efficient than traditional recruitment and business development pathways. It requires fewer resources, leads to higher-quality prospects and creates a more vibrant and invested company culture.
By analyzing the relationship data that exists within your team’s greater network, you’ll save time and money that would have been spent buying lists, sourcing leads and conducting research.
But, just how do you leverage that enormous space? Let’s get a little help from the companies that are already doing it:
1. Look inside first, like Palantir Technologies and Dropbox.
If companies are networking right, they look inside of their networks before looking outside. Their executives know that internal leads are not only warmer than external ones, but are also more likely to convert into real opportunities.
As a data analytics company, Palantir Technologies ran an analysis and found that tapping into your existing networks leads to higher conversion rates than cold calling, especially when you’re reaching out to potential candidates. Dropbox also dedicates a lot of its recruiting energy to leveraging its employees’ contacts. Its recruiters actually sit down with new employees to talk about exciting people in their networks.
2. Do lunch, like LinkedIn and HubSpot.
Encourage all of your employees to spend time reaching out to prospects. LinkedIn does this by allowing employees to expense their lunches with interesting people as long as they summarize their conversations in the expense report. HubSpot also uses this tactic through its Learning Meals program.
3. Set goals, like Ernst & Young.
When you’re looking to improve your internal networking culture, make sure your efforts are measurable. Ernst & Young proactively invests in its employees by setting ambitious goals. It aims for half of its new hires to come from internal referrals, and it’s nearly hit that target.
4. Invest, like Deloitte.
It may seem like Deloitte is excessive in its generous rewards program for internal networking. After all, do employees really need iPads and TVs when they refer new hires? The answer is a resounding “yes,” because it’s working. The company invests in this efficient recruiting program to the tune of $1 million per year, but the return is an estimated$6 million in annual savings.
5. “Group,” like Google.
Google knows that networking is more effective when there’s a sense of camaraderie. So it created Employee Resource Groups to incentivize like-minded employees to reach out to a diverse range of people within the community. ERGs host networking events, promote social action, and encourage collaboration.
Powerful tools are emerging every day to help you leverage your employees’ networks the way these trailblazers do. With more than 1.39 billion monthly active users — and an extraordinary level of engagement — Facebook uses its massive pool of data to make networking more efficient for companies. Facebook at Work blurs the lines between personal and professional, and it remains to be seen whether consumers will be willing to bridge that gap.
The real champions of this next level of networking are going to be the companies that find creative ways to leverage internal power. By harnessing all that energy and talent that’s just sitting in your vast collective network, you can turn the world into your Rolodex.