Where is your Red Balloon?

The US Military Research Agency, DARPA, is well-known for running competitions that aim to catalyse progress in various technologies by harnessing brainpower outside the usual organisations. For example a couple of competitions have produced vehicles that can drive themselves, firstly across a desert course and then through an urban environment.

More recently a competition was held in the field of distributed intelligence. Ten red balloons were moored in locations around the US and the prize was won by the first team to correctly identify the locations of all ten balloons. The idea was to see how the Internet and social networking could be used to organise and gather information across a wide area.

The plan was to run the competition for seven days but the winners, from MIT, took only nine hours to find the balloons. Their methods highlight the value of building trusted social networks and tracking (and rewarding) referrals across multiple connections.

Firstly, MIT built their network through invitations and each new member could themselves invite new members. This enabled a network to be built rapidly but with every member vouched-for thus avoiding the potential for deliberate misinformation.

Secondly, they offered not only rewards for the spotters but also for the people who invited the spotters, the people that invited the inviters, the people that invited them and so on. This meant a much wider group of people could benefit from winning the competition than just the people who spotted the balloons. The incentive to build the network was thus greatly increased.

Now, imagine those red balloons are your ideal candidates in the sea of people that is the current recruitment market. Imagine you could build a trusted social network to identify and reach those candidates quickly and easily. Imagine if you could track and reward the people that helped find those candidates, not just the people that were the final link but all those who helped share the information and build the connection.

That is what a trusted social network can do for your recruitment and your business. That is the power of Employer Connections.

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