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What is a Talent Network and How do I Build One?

   |   Dustin Talley   |   June 14, 2019


As demand for independent professional talent grows, companies are increasingly turning to online marketplaces as a way to directly access talent. Independent talent themselves are also utilizing these platforms, with 25% reporting that they intend on using an online marketplace in the next 12 months.

Other organizations are taking a slightly different approach by developing their own company-specific marketplaces. PwC’s Talent Exchange, an online platform connecting talent with PwC projects, and the Washington Post’s Talent Network, an online system for managing freelance contributors, are two examples of this in action.

As companies develop these individualized marketplaces, they must also make investments in growing their own pools of talent—a talent network.

What is a Talent Network?

A talent network is a vetted and qualified on-demand pool of independent professional talent that managers can quickly tap into in order to obtain the specific skills needed for their projects. This group has some level of relationship with your company—they may have previously worked with the company or have been invited to join—and they meet a certain set of criteria such as having specific experience, a certain set of skills or operating out of a particular location.

A talent network is an excellent way of shortlisting talent to work with on future projects. To think of it another way, our family uses an app to grocery shop. Our weekly routine usually involves scanning the fridge to identify what we need. For items we don’t have, we place an order through the app so we don’t have to make a run to the store. In the same way, hiring managers can use their talent network to source available skills rather than having to go through a third party such as a staffing agency or consulting firm.

What Are the Benefits of a Talent Network?

The biggest benefit by far is the ability to quickly find and engage talent. Talent networks save managers time by providing access to talent who are ready to be deployed on projects. If your chosen independent contractor has been previously on-boarded, you can realize even greater time savings.

Cost savings is another benefit. Managers working to stretch a budget throughout an entire year win big with a talent network. By bypassing third-party firms and engaging talent through their own network, managers can avoid paying those third-party markup costs—and that means more money left in their budget.

How Do You Build a Talent Network?

Always start with the end in mind. What type of projects will you have in the next quarter? In the next year? Knowing this will help you target the right type of talent. When it comes to the individuals in your network, think about the type of talent you’ll need to support your projects. By nature, you should be looking for independent professionals (individuals with no third-party affiliation) so you will be able to work with them directly.

Once you know the types of talent you will engage, consider the various channels where you can find them. A redeployment solution, engaging workers who have previously worked on projects with your company or as a traditional employee with your company, is a great place to start. Since onboarding times can be lengthy, utilizing talent who are already familiar with your company can be very helpful.

From there, get creative about accessing the talent you need in your network. Here are some ideas: Tap into your retiree population, create a manager referral program, and find ways to leverage your company brand to attract talent.

Once you have a curation strategy in place, you’ll need a talent-friendly platform such as MBO’s marketplace to ensure easy access to talent. MBO’s marketplace allows organizations to engage skilled independent contractors for consulting jobs.

Should you have any questions about MBO’s marketplace or building your own talent network, we’re always here for you.

Dustin Talley

Director, Solutions Design
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