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May 20, 2011

In the 1985 Robert Zemeckis’ classic Back to the Future, Marty McFly saved George McFly from being hit by an oncoming car which set a tailwind of strange and entertaining events in motion. Remember why Marty had to save George? Because he was hanging in a tree, one arm around the tree branch and one arm extended with binoculars spying on Lorraine Baines changing in her house. Yes…George was stalking. This is what stalking is.

The more we document our personal and professional lives through social media, the more we hear the word stalking being used, and used incorrectly. In professional discussions, we may even avoid certain topics in fear that the person we’re speaking with suspects we’ve been “social stalking.” In the sourcing and recruiting world, research and stalking are two very different things and using the web to prepare data points and details on a potential candidate is smart, not creepy.

The evolution and constant development of social media will continue to reshape the world of sourcing. Using the Internet to find a name-title-email-phone number, while still important, may not be enough. Donato Diorio, CEO of Broadlook, puts on a great webinar every few months titled “The Near and Far Future of Recruiting,” and one topic discussed in this webinar is Social Intuition. In brief, Social Intuition is the ability to take reference points identified via social media that can be used to build rapport and establish common ground. You can aggregate this data manually today in your sourcing effort or explore social aggregation. The evolution of technology and Social Intuition will be to gather static data points from a professional bio, LinkedIn Profile, Facebook Account, Twitter feed, etc and creating a mash-up of real-time conversation stimulators.


LinkedIn Static Data Point:
Andy graduated from The University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Real-Time Social Intuition:

Andy’s Broadlook Bio:
Andy references the Milwaukee Brewers in his Broadlook website bio
Real-Time Social Intuition:
Zack Grienke wins home debut in Brewers uniform

On the last webinar, there was a question posed by one of the participants who feared using this type of information would appear like stalking. It is not that you use this information it is how. As dialogue with potential candidates is necessary in sourcing and recruiting, using Social Intuition can mean the difference between a 2-minute interruption and a 20-minute chat.

“Hey Jill, was just sittin’ on your Facebook page, congrats on the new born! What’s her name? Oh, it’s a he….ok cool, do you know any C++ Developers who may be interested in…….”
“Hey Jill, I won’t keep you long this afternoon – I need to run my three year old to day care. Oh you have a new born? Congratulations, they grow up so fast!”

“Kevin! I was looking at the Tripit on your LinkedIn and see that you’re in Georgia all week so then I jumped over to your Twitter feed and saw you took some photos at last night’s Braves game. How was that Brat by the way?”
“Hi Kevin, yes I had a relaxing weekend. The most stressful part was trying to decide between the NBA Playoffs and last night’s Atlanta vs. Philly game. No kiddin’ — you were there?”

Now my point here is not to lie. I wouldn’t make the three-year-old comment because I do not have a three year old. The point is, with the wealth of information at our fingertips every day, do not be afraid to use it in fear of being accused of “social stalking.” This information is valuable and needs to be leveraged, but do so smartly and sparingly.

Use the topic, not the specific social data point. If you don’t get a response or it’s not catching on, move along. Be elegant in your delivery. We are getting to the point in our Web 2.0/3.0 world where most candidates should be aware of their public web presence. If they’re caught off guard, provide them with tips on how to be more private and secure with their social networking. If they point a finger or wonder where you got your information, have a response in your back pocket:

“We attempt to use all available public resources to properly research the best talent and determine cultural fit” – or something like that.

And if they’re still giving you grief, scream “GREAT SCOTT,” hang up, and hop in your DeLorean.

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