Several years ago I read a book called Acres of Diamonds, a short book by Russell Conwell, a Baptist minister. The book, which is essentially was a speech he delivered around the world in the late 1800s, was first published in 1890 but is still very applicable today. The basic gist of the speech was that one need not look elsewhere for opportunity, achievement, or fortune — the resources to achieve all good things are present in one’s own community.
The impetus of this thought comes from my attendance today at the Seattle SMA Symposium, at which a good mix of national and local talent presented thoughts and facts on the latest recruiting, sourcing, and candidate experience practices both locally and abroad. As a slightly new resident to the Seattle area, but a 2-year resident of the state of Washington, I am continually impressed with the level of connection in this city amongst its recruiters. There are several professional organizations available for recruiting folks to join, network, and learn from, and people seem very well connected both within and outside of their organizations. With these connections come wonderful opportunities to share knowledge, innovation, and hopefully candidates — because we’re all trying to get people back to work, right!?
Consider Acres of Diamonds again: The resources to achieve all good things are present in one’s own community. Think about this statement, and then consider all of the recruiting resources in your own community(ies). Are you taking advantage of them? Or are you continually looking outside of your available resources for those opportunities?
There are a few ways to look at ‘community’ in this sense.
Your Internal Community
How many wonderful opportunities do you have to source from within your own organization? I’m not talking about poaching from your colleagues’ teams — I’m talking about project work and referrals. Let’s get something straight — sourcing is not only about discovering new data “mines,” it’s also about excavating existing ones to find new layers of treasure. Your co-workers know people. And occasionally, your co-workers sometimes are the people you need.
Consider how many times your company has outsourced a project that an internal person had the skills to handle. Perhaps they would have enjoyed the opportunity to work on a project that was outside the scope of their official function.
Additionally, your co-workers are excellent knowledge resources. This especially includes all of the non-recruiting and non-sourcing people! Do you realize how much you can learn from your marketing colleagues? From your IT person? What better people to learn about the type of person you need to source than the people who are excelling in their positions already. And what better people to learn peripheral skills from (think sales, marketing, public relations, market research, etc.)
Don’t neglect the resources available internally. In fact, this should be the first place you look, in my humble opinion.
Your Local Community
Sitting in the SMA event today, I’m impressed with the level of local talent in Seattle. How well do you know the other recruiters and sourcers in your local community?
Your ‘community’ may look different depending on the size of the city/region in which you live. It might encompass a city, a region, or perhaps an entire country. But it’s your local community, and I’ll bet it is very underutilized. If you don’t know who the other sourcers are within a reasonable driving distance of where you live and/or work, may I recommend that you figure that out quickly and get to know them.
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I’m biased of course, but the Seattle sourcing community is absolutely thriving. Why? Because we know one another and we get together regularly, we check our egos at the door, we share, and we include everyone who wants to be included. Sharing is the key local communities — to toss out a couple of cliche phrases, a rising tide raises all ships and no one bakes a cake the same way even with the exact same recipe. We have some incredibly talented sourcers here but we encourage everyone to share because no one person has all the answers and there’s something to be learned from each person in the community — no matter how new or how experienced. I have a forthcoming article in the works to discuss the importance of this concept.
Recruiting professionals, my recommendation to you is to seek out other like-minded individuals within your local community. Whether it’s a recruiting or HR organization or an informal infrequent gathering of sourcing geeks, tapping in to your local community is invaluable. And if there’s nothing going on, be the catalyst. I promise you — if you build it, they will come.
Your Professional Community
I don’t think there’s much need to emphasize how important it is to tap into larger professional communities. In fact, many of you do this as a sourcing strategy within your own industries — you join professional organizations aligned with the communities of people you seek to recruit. This is a smart move! But do you belong to official professional organizations within your own profession? Are you part of NAPS? Do you belong to SHRM? Do you have an AIRS certification? Do you read SourceCon, ERE, RecruitingBlogs, or Workforce Management? Do you write for any of these? Do you connect with sourcing leaders around the world via a sourcing leadership group?
The value in joining larger professional communities comes in their ability to enhance to both your local and your internal communities. It’s adding a new ‘ingredient’ to your recipe to spice it up a little and make it your own. Especially when we’re talking about sourcing, it’s an opportunity to learn from an even wider pool of talent and lift up the function as a whole. As sourcers, our professional communities are imperative for creating unity around the position and gaining the respect we truly deserve for the function we serve within our organizations or to our clients.
My recommendation: join communities to which your target audience belongs — absolutely. But join professional communities that will enhance your own skills as well. There is much to be learned from industry professionals outside of your local community that you can bring back home. And don’t forget to bring your own knowledge to the table as well.
Motivational speaker and author Earl Nightingale referenced Conwell’s speech in one of the most applicable quotes to the concept of community. He said, “You are, at this moment, standing right in the middle of your own ‘acres of diamonds.'” Look around at your co-workers, your local peers, and your industry colleagues. There is your community. There are your acres of diamonds.