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  • Rob Tillman

Virtual Relationships

Can you build meaningful relationships without meeting people in person? Do we really need to develop meaningful relationships to be successful?

As an executive recruiter and coach, I’m amazed at how quickly the pendulum has swung. A few years ago, clients wanted to know how a recruiter could do their job well without meeting candidates in person. How could a recruiter possibly assess someone through a video, and more importantly, how could a recruiter build a relationship without meeting a candidate in person?

Implied in these questions is the fundamental belief that you must build relationships to work with senior level executives, and that this can only be done in person. As I’ve listened to how other recruiters talk about this subject, I find it interesting to hear the word “meet” extending to include video meetings. For recruiters trying to maximize their income and capacity, this is awesome because they no longer need to fly around the country to actually meet people.

As LinkedIn provides everyone with the ability to “go direct”, companies have also raced to build their own talent acquisition activities. While every company needs a highly effective talent acquisition function, the focus on volume, speed, and efficiency has further highlighted the “value” of video interviews. Why should clients spend money on in-person interviews when they can “filter” candidates through video?

In this new environment, the central question has shifted from one based on how to build effective relationships to whether it really matters. The innovation in recruiting and talent acquisition has diluted the value of relationships, and the next generation of executive recruiters will have been raised on social media. When you accept a friend request or accept an invitation on LinkedIn, you haven’t built a relationship…you’ve simply made a connection.

So, what does this mean to the companies who will compete for the best senior level talent? And, when will the pendulum swing back to value the importance of meeting people in person?


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