What if you were put in charge of a team and needed a number of top quality, high achieving workers to deliver big results – where would you turn? Advertising? Online job sites? Old applications of people who once applied for work at the company? Those are the usual options and I’ve got another one to consider, in this edition of The Work Zone.

Not long ago I was picking up folks at the airport, and before they emerged from the baggage and customs area, I got involved in a conversation with a man who told me a story about his business – a story that led to today’s commentary.

His name is Tim and he’s a manager for a big military contractor. He’s been in the contracting game for many years. He also has attended a couple of my training courses and we began to talk about that, plus a general discussion of the challenges of building a team which stays together over the long haul.

Identifying a valuable community

As we chewed that over, Tim started talking about some of the people he now works with, and that he’d had the pleasure of doing so before he came to Guam. In his end of the military contracting business, it’s a relatively small community, and he said you come to know who the good workers are, the ones you can trust to show up and get busy. Then he dropped the nugget of information that made the difference.

Contracts are won and lost, and people are often on the move in search of their next opportunity. He said there are a lot of positions filled locally, but when you need additional expertise you know where to look – this network of people you’ve been a part of for so long.

I didn’t ask Tim how many times he’s dipped into the community to find talent, or how many times someone has dipped in to find him, but my guess is that he’s experienced both, perhaps several times.

Anybody can do this

So what does all this mean to you? Is there more going on here than just basic networking? Yes, there is more and it’s worth a few minutes to try a little exercise.

Take a piece of paper and draw two lines down the page from top to bottom, separating the space into thirds. You’re going to list three categories of people.

You’re looking for talent and solid work ethic

List No. 1 is made up of those you’ve worked with over the years who have impressed you with their talent, skill, determination, charisma and overall work ethic.

List No. 2 is made up of people who have competed with you. We know who the winners are on the other teams, each person being someone who can be counted on to deliver results.

List No. 3 is made up of people you grew up with, went to school with, those you met and worked with or had some connection with during military service, or a project to benefit a charity, and the list goes on. Again, the determining factor is that they all are people who are self-starters and make things happen.

How big is your potential talent pool?

Between co-workers, competitors, and various other connections, you should have a pretty good-sized list to work with and a jumpstart to developing your own community of talent.

With every job you take and everyone you meet, you add to your lists. Then you keep tabs on people so your contacts are always fresh.

Look into your community to fill positions

One day when you’re in a position to build a team and you need proven winners, you go looking in your community to see who is available or might be interested in making a change.

The larger the network of top-notch people, the better your chances of landing who you need – and maybe much better than taking a chance on finding the right one in a sea of applications. If you haven’t got such a list yet, there’s no better time than today to start making one.

I would imagine my friend Tim would know exactly who to call if he needed to fill a critical position. Will you?

Jerry Roberts comments on business and the workplace daily at 7:20 am on The Ray Gibson Show on The Point, 93.3 FM. He can be reached at guamtraining.com, or email jroberts@guamtraining.com

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