Extroverts dominate social networks – good thing for sourcing sales talent?

The WSJ published an article today – “In Popular Vote, Your Friends Usually Win” about how extroverts dominate social networks and how their popularity may potentially be misleading.

Extroverts attract other extroverts which has a multiplier effect of increasing the size of their networks.

“The social networks of popular, outgoing people present a skewed view of the world because they include a larger portion of extroverts than the general population. And the more extroverted and popular someone is, the more lopsided his social network, according to new research by two Dartmouth professors”, the article comments.

“If you think about assembling the best team to do a job, the natural tendency is to look to extroverts, but they may not be the most competent people available,” said Adam M. Kleinbaum, a professor at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and co-author of the new study. Network bias could unintentionally cause you to favor people who are less competent.”

“For example, she said, a study by psychologists Stephan Dilchert and Deniz Ones demonstrated that although 50% of the U.S. population is extroverted, approximately 96% of U.S. leaders are extroverted”, the article comments.

Is there a network bias when finding sales talent? In all honesty, when we source sales talent, say from LinkedIn we do end up looking at the size of the sales person’s network (connections). We tend to gravitate towards folks with a larger number of connections. 500+ (the maximum LinkedIn shows) tells us the guy is OK. Less than 200 connections and we wonder – if this guy is in sales, why is he not more connected?

But is this correct? Could it be that we are missing out on more competent folks due to our tendency to favor folks with higher connections? Is this not similar to saying extroverted sales folks are better at selling.

We believe so. An extrovert may be more of a hindrance if they talk more and listen less. If you are not paying attention (by not listening) you will miss out all the valuable subtleties that enhance your chance of closing the deal.

A sales person with a large number of connections vs. one with a lower number does not really mean much from a quality of hire standpoint. It is relatively easy to increase your network size.

All in all, extroverts don’t sell more; neither do folks with larger social networks.

Happy Sourcing!

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