No talent tracking doesn’t mean following your favorite celebrities on Twitter, or heaven forbid, People magazine (does it still exist?). It means keeping an eye out for talented people who some day you might want to recruit for your company or recommend to your peers.
Recruiting is one of the most important activities in a startup, along with product and customer development. Talent tracking can help your startup get off the ground running.
I was taught this recruiting technique by the late Wayne Oler, President of Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. I remember him tell ingme abut a woman named Cecilia D’Oliveira, whom he met at a conference and was very impressed by. “Steve, he said, keep an eye on her. She’s going places.” Well I did and oddly enough the place she went was back to her alma mater, MIT, as a Director in the Information Systems Department. I had the pleasure of working with there as a Director of Information Services for two years.
Wayne, as usual, was right – Cec was a real talent: smart, great with people and extremely effective in her job. Since that time I’ve learned to keep my eye out for talent: programmers, marketers, business developers, CFOs, students. – anyone who looks like they have the talent and drive to help build a startup. Every startup I’ve done, and it’s getting so I’ve lost count, as many expired early, I’ve done with people I’ve gotten to know over the years.
As an introvert with social anxiety disorder, small talk and networking are about the last thing I want to be doing. I tend to avoid large conferences and meetings for that reason. But small meetings and informal get togethers are more comfortable for me. Either way, I keep my eye out – especially for speakers at conferences or those who ask great questions from the audience. But if you don’t have those handicaps, don’t just network for the sake of adding to your LinkedIn numbers, network with a purpose, spotting talent.
Today with LinkedIn and Facebook it’s far easier to follow talented people than ever before. That doesn’t mean you should turn into a stalker, but when you spot a talented person try to make contact, get to know them, and best of all, see if there is any way you can help them in their career.
I’m often asked if I know a CTO, or a CFO or some other key position by friends starting companies. That’s when talent tracking can also pay off – helping your friends hire talented people.
AI may replace us all one day, but until then, as the saying goes, “in high tech the assets go out the door every night.” Learn to spot, cultivate and keep in contact with “those assets” – the talented people who may one day be your colleague or a friend’s colleague.