When You Hire an Executive, You're Hiring a Network
You’ve just raised a round of financing. Your next step is to build your management team. There are several criteria for finding the right executive. Competency in the field, cultural fit, communication skills, management experience. All of those should be obvious. There is one that is often overlooked. Network.
Recruiting is one of the most important responsibilities for a head of a department. That head will need to scale the team to meet the objectives of the company. Within the first 3 to 6 months, the executive will likely hire several people, maybe 4 maybe 10.
What is the first place an executive will mine for talent? Her network.
The people she has worked with in the past. The people she has met in the industry. The relationships she has cultivated over her tenure. Those are the first set of candidates to come through the door.
You want to be able to hire to those candidates for four reasons. First, you already have a strong reference on their behalf, so there’s less screening required. Second, there’s no leadership/relationship risk. The team already knows each other. Third, they are likely to move very quickly and follow a great person to another role, which accelerates hiring. Fourth, great people associate with other great people. More trusted referrals means faster, easier and better hiring.
That’s terrific leverage.
Without that network or with the wrong network, recruiting costs and time increase. Success rates of new hires declines. And more uncertainty is injected into the business.
When interviewing for new executive to lead an internal team, interview for the network by asking and digging into the question: “Who are your first 5 hires?”