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The type of big network development that exploded when Facebook emerged in 2004 is becoming more popular again as companies turn to social media for recruitment during a busy job market. According to a survey released by Jobvite, 93% of recruiters are using LinkedIn to discover talent, while 89% have actually hired through LinkedIn. But, when it comes to social media networking, should we be investigating the issue of quality over quantity?

These articles from Forbes and Businessweek explore precisely that conundrum, introducing readers to Dr. Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at University of Oxford, who explains that our brains can only handle 150 social relationships.

“The figure of 150 seems to represent the maximum number of individuals with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with knowing who they are and how they relate to us,” Dunbar writes.

So the question becomes, should we be gobbling up connections and friends or is it better to limit to the Dunbar 150?

When it comes to professional networking, quality is often found in the quantity. This is true both in terms of recruiting and in regard to knowledge exchange.

In terms of candidate sourcing, it’s good to be connected with a lot of people because it simply broadens your direct reach applicant pool. Sometimes you have to ‘kiss a lot of frogs’ before you find the perfect fit. Social media allows you to conveniently meet and reach out to many people, regardless of the time or distance, to pull into your funnel. With automated pre-hire assessments, you can predict their performance to subsequently deny or verify your social media gut instinct.

In terms of sharing thought leadership, these networks allow you to tap into existing relevant groups and create tailored think tanks. Ask a question in the morning (i.e., “What’s the best automated predictive talent selection software?”) and you can have meaningful answers by lunchtime. If you limit your network to only select individuals with whom you are particularly well acquainted, you’ll be limiting the dynamism of potential responses and your exposure to new ideas.

While you needn’t go running amuck with connections to get the most out of social media, considering going beyond the Dunbar 150 for professional networking. By creating an online presence that contributes your thought leadership, promotes your employer brand and demonstrates your activity in the hiring arena, you’ll inherently connect with a lot of the right individuals in a meaningful way.




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