Hiring season can be a grind for recruiters. Endless long late nights working hard to get the “perfect candidate”. But instead of going through the whole turmoil, we say, be prepared for it even before the hiring season starts. In preparation for the fast-approaching recruiting season, dedicate some of your summer to recharge for a successful rest of the year. Constantly nurturing existing relationships and strategically developing new contacts can put you on the inside track to plum leads, whether you are an active recruiter or just want to keep up with the market.
Remember that candidates might come and go, but your network is like lifetime investment for your organization. Contacts provide referrals, recommendations, and invitations. Therefore you need to make time every day to “network purposefully,” as we say.
Define your networking methodology
Concentrate on people and exercises related straightforwardly to accomplishing individual and expert objectives. Compile a list of existing contacts which can turn into potential candidates and research targeted new contacts among thought leaders, authors, friends of friends, industry consultants and speakers.
Widen your horizon
The next step would be to organize the contacts into action groups: meet in person one-on-one, via telephone call, individual e-mails, print notes or by sharing a link or article; send a gift; connect two contacts; invite to a live event; recommend a virtual event or a group discussion; or submit a proposal for a presentation. In the end, keep them engaged.
Keep Track of Your Contacts
When a contact gives you leads or referrals, be sure to ask for permission to use the contact’s name. Keep detailed records of your networking activity: to whom did you talk, about what, when, and what were the results? For each contact, identify next steps and develop a reliable follow-up system. A collection of index cards will work; so will a notebook or computer application. The key is to be persistent and actually follow up.
Conduct due diligence
Find inside knowledge of target candidates, include consultants as well. Also be sure to read print and online publications, visit professional association websites and check conference exhibitors and presenters. Refine your value proposition for employees based on their needs. Describe by success stories of your employees’ examples of how they have grown within the organization, helped in reducing costs or improving the process. You have to distinguish yourself as a first choice, go-to reliable expert. In addition, join additional groups to make more targeted contacts.
Maximize social networking to increase quality contacts
Social networks provide enormous opportunity to connect with insiders identified from their profile content. Ask a mutual contact to facilitate an introduction. Join the same group as a target contact; on LinkedIn, for instance, you can send a message to a fellow group member without being linked.
Spot trends and increase your knowledge online. Go beyond Linked In. Get background information from corporate websites, LinkedIn profiles and Facebook fan pages. Search online (ZoomInfo, Google profiles, Spoke) for more names. Follow individuals and corporate accounts on Twitter, monitor conversations and send direct messages or engage in a public dialogue.
Increase your visibility
Now that you are getting the hang of how to network purposefully, complete your LinkedIn profile. Add keywords, document recent accomplishments of your employees, and upload presentations, white papers, articles, favorite links or travel plans.
All of this is important because adding content increases your digital footprint, which makes you more searchable. Check your Twitter stream a few times daily. Monitor your favorite blogs and websites via RSS to your e-mail or Google Reader. Write a comment, post a question, answer an inquiry—all of these are searchable and increase your digital footprint adding to your credibility, building your reputation and providing a continuous record of who you are, what you do, how you think and show your potential value.
Also be sure to document your accomplishments online: Your work is your resume. Offline activities published online also add to your digital footprint. Send out press releases announcing promotions or job changes. Present at a trade show. Lead or help organize an activity in your local community or professional group. You will also make new contacts plus get more PR for yourself.
Maintain social networking accounts and credibility
Be consistent across all platforms. While staying in touch and keeping your activities current is time-consuming, repeatedly starting to network from scratch every time you need or want a different position requires much more time and effort and is far less effective.
Having solid relationships is the key to sourcing new challenges in the unadvertised or hidden job market. Keep up your side of relationships. Networking is critically important in today’s world where every job is temporary and you need to create your own career insurance. It is easier to maintain a relationship than to develop a new one: “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.”