Get ready for recovery. Yes it is bumpy but the economy is edging forward and companies are moving forward with plans. Finding good talent will again be critical and, much like to achieve your sales goals you need a strong pipeline, the same goes for recruiting the best people. Building a pipeline of people who know, like and trust you is key to consistently hiring the best. A curated pipeline brings many benefits including increased speed to hire, reduced lost opportunity costs of an open position or territory, a significantly higher probability of hiring a strong long-term fit, and great referrals. All of this translates to less stress on you and your team, improved business results, and better retention. If this sounds good – let’s get started!
Here are four strategies used by successful hiring managers and dedicated recruiters, to build a pipeline of potential talent and/or a referral network.
- Direct Outreach
Sourcing: First, book 20 minutes every day to find 10 potentials. Use social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, GitHub, and Twitter. Another fantastic free new tool for this process is called Seemless.ai. Look for lists of people under competitors, vendors, and affiliations such as industry associations or local business groups. Join LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, MeetUps, or associations where your talent might virtually hang out. Alumni lists are also a great place to look. Keep in mind you are not just targeting a person but also who they know, so a perfect fit is not necessary.
Connecting: No matter where you find them, go to LinkedIn to connect. LinkedIn is the best free marketing tool you have so use it! Do this and every month you will add over 200 relevant connections!
The best way to connect is to keep it simple and be genuine. Think of how you connect at local events – you search for shared interests or some type of connection. Use the same method in connecting virtually.
LinkedIn is the best tool because it is like adding a person to your email list but without any effort or opt-in on their part. To avoid being shut down by LinkedIn, don’t spam people with connection requests. Always send a short message along with your request. Comment on something in their profile or find some commonality like a group, location, or background. For example, “Hi John, I see you live in Encinitas too. It would be great to connect here on LinkedIn” or, “…I see we both went to SDSU or worked for IBM back in the day. …”. Alumni connections are the best.
When someone connects always reply with, “Thanks for connecting” and an offer of service like, “if I can ever be of service please reach out” or “hope to see you in the neighborhood, at the next event or at a reunion”. Any potential they might bump into you in person will spur on their willingness to connect or engage since ignoring you on LinkedIn is like turning their back to you at an event.
Build Rapport: The next step is to build rapport with minimal effort. Each week produce or find something of value, like an industry article, recent research, or upcoming event and share with your growing list of ‘potentials’. At the same time, this is helping to grow your brand value and insight on your company. Even better, ask for their feedback or ask a question. This personal outreach will take more in-mails but when they are a 1st connection on LinkedIn, the in-mails are free and much faster to blast out than email. Upgrade your account to LI Navigator and you can keep track of your prospects in groups, with tags, and track conversations. Well worth it in my experience!
2. Leverage Your Networks
Collegiate and other professional collaborations is another great way to fill your pipeline. These affiliations open doors to industry-related discussions and help build both your image and your relationships. If a group does not exist, set up your own in LinkedIn (LI) or Facebook (FB) and invite people into the discussion.
Get your team involved: Make sure your team is also on the lookout within their networks. Setting up an employee referral program is the best way to put focus on this effort and encourage people to make time for it. This also communicates how important finding quality people is to the organization.
3. Host Events to Engage your local industry / technology / shared cause
Consider organizing happy hours, an open house, or even a fundraiser and invite your area professionals. Publicize the event on social media and send out a personal invite via LI in-mail (you can send up to 25 at a time). Other events that can attract talent include guest speakers, hack-a-thons, and meetups (which can all be virtual for now). Even better, find opportunities to be the guest speaker at someone else’s event. Events allow others to meet you plus get a glimpse into your company and its culture. Do not forget to know in advance or circle back with confirmed attendees so that you can introduce them to the right people within your organization. Encourage your team to attend events as well and set a connections goal. Give them a step-by-step follow-up process and have fun with rewards for their extra effort.
4. Personal and Top of Mind
Keep it going: Stay top of mind with your growing network. In addition to a bi-weekly or monthly message of value, as discussed earlier, make sure you post or share every week on LinkedIn/ Twitter/ FB and other networks you are connected to. It does not have to be original content to be of value. Consider that you are building a brand image of someone your ‘potentials’ would like to work with in the future. For example, if you value servant leadership, share articles on this topic. To position yourself as an expert in your field or a leader in a new technology, share articles in this area.
For especially valued ‘potentials’, put a Google alert on their name and follow them on LinkedIn. This way, with little effort, you can extend congratulations, contribute to discussions they are in, or just say Happy Birthday when FB or LI alert you.
Don’t forget to instruct and encourage your team on how to brand themselves and personalize messages for ‘potentials’. Multiplying your efforts can have huge returns.
Consider your talent pipeline as a community, not just a database. Put continuous efforts to keep your pipeline aware of you and your impression as a good leader and a good career bet for them. Remember, your whole purpose is, when you need to hire, that this person will take your call as a respected colleague and be open to listening to your opportunity and either engage further or refer you to their network, even if they are a competitor.
Take Action Now
- Book connecting time (20 min daily) into your calendar now.
- Set some goals and be accountable for your metrics.
Building a talent pipeline (community) for your future hiring needs might seem of obvious importance but, with so many priorities on your plate, it is easy to run out of time and forget to keep in touch. Make it a new habit so that when you need to hire, whether in a month or next year, you will be thankful to have a developed a network to start your search in.