Using Mind Maps for Sourcing

Sourcing

Since we already know how great a tool mind mapping can be for brainstorming and group work and in other ways for organizing your life, I thought I’d share with the community how I use MindMeister in my job as a Sourcer. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Sourcing is a specific sect of the recruitment function. It blurs the line between recruitment, competitive intelligence, PR and marketing. What I essentially do is go out into the market to find hard to find people…

The primary reason I utilize mind maps in my everyday job is to visually represent my search strategies. It helps me keep track of my searches, coordinate the efforts of my team and keeps me organized. So without further ado…

I break my first level nodes into:

  • Search Strategy
  • Search Terms
  • Working Node
  • Target Organization
  • Conferences
  • Resources Folder
  • News Articles
  • Other Resources

Search Strategy

This is really the crux of my map, kind of like my HQ. It’s my road map and default node I refer to when I’ve run out of sources to peruse or simply find myself lost in the search (and believe me, sourcers often do so). I normally start by listing all the search related points from the brief I take with the client about the position we’re sourcing for – potential target organizations, conferences, workshops, maybe even specific people for which to use as a benchmark.

As I explore these sources and come up with other avenues of approach to find suitable people, I throw them into a new node so I don’t forget, ensuring that I have enough information to pick up the thread at a later stage (e.g. a link to the search string, or adding notes).

Search Terms

Keywords and Alternative Job titles. Two of the most useful sources that I use in my search again and again and again… I build a list and ensure that I keep adding to it or culling it as my research grows deeper.

Working Node

This is actually something I’ve implemented recently into my maps. Back when I was working solo, I could get away with just plugging away at whatever sources tickled my fancy that day or hour… Now that I’m working in a team environment, we needed to find a way to divvy up the workload without stepping on each other’s toes.

Eventually we settled on this method – as we were working on a particular node, we move it to our “Working Node” so the other team member knows not to work on those. In addition, we can add particular sources to our own “Working Node” if we wanted to personally explore it or if we had a unique angle on how to best peruse it.

Note that I utilize MindMeister’s task management system, specifically the Completion Icons (the little check boxes) to indicate what stage I’m at with examining the source or if I’ve completed it.

Target Organization

Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty side of things. This node maps out the target list from which to headhunt focus on. I tend to break mine down by location because I find it’s easier to manage.

I also categorize them in themes first like: Commercial, Government, NGO, etc. but it depends on what works best for you and the particular search you’re working on.

Conferences

Speakers, keynotes, workshop facilitators, distinguished lecturer, residing chairs, attendees. What more can you leverage from these places? Here I list the biggest and most relevant conferences at which the people I’m sourcing for gather. Of course I don’t limit this to conferences – symposiums, events, meet-up groups, summits all have a home under this node.

Resources Folder

Another recent addition to my maps since leading sourcing campaigns involving a sourcing team. The resources folder is for all those ‘one off’ documents you might find that you’ve saved during your search, like presentation slides, random attendee lists, technical papers, event flyers, or summaries. It’s a quick and easy way for you to keep track of and manage these sources once you’ve examined them.

I tend to bold or use additional icons to indicate sources I should pay closer attention to when exploring.

News Articles & Other Resources

Pretty much the “Others” pile you invariably get when trying to organise anything. The home for all those “other” sources that don’t fit into any of the above categories.

Hopefully this gives you an insight on how I use mind maps for sourcing. I don’t claim that this method is necessarily the best way for managing your search, however I suspect it would to an extent; depending on the types of searches you perform. This system seems to work well for me.

The transition from working solo on projects to a team effort has certainly been made possible with the ability for multiple users to collaborate on a single map in real time. For us Oceanic users who are somewhat further from the MindMeister servers in Frankfurt, Germany, I’ve noticed a marked increase in functionality when collaborating on maps with multiple users with the release of MindMeister 6.

Ken Hew is the Director of Quest Research, a Passive Talent sourcing firm based in Sydney, Australia. Having had a life-long love affair with computers since he was eight, an innate sense of curiosity, and a strong interest in people, he has always had a natural affinity towards research and sourcing.

Still an active sourcing practitioner, he takes a systems approach to conducting search and emphasizes the need to harness both Internet research and phone-based sourcing. Ken blogs at sourcingninja.net.