Networking to Hire
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” We’re all familiar with that saying and have found ourselves on thereceiving end of it at some point in our lives. Frequently this adage reveals itself under circumstances when we are in need of assistance or support, job-seekers, in particular, are often confronted with this when others learn that they are seeking employment. Similarly, the same scenario applies to employers looking to fill a position. Many companies sponsor referral bonuses or provide incentives to current employees who refer a member in their network to the company.
Although working current employees’ networks is an effective strategy when looking to fill a vacant position, whathappens when that resource has been exhausted and you’re working overtime to compensate for the vacancy? First andforemost, is to build your network of contacts, preferably before you find yourself in a bind. While this may notguarantee a hire, it most certainly is a worthwhile effort and may lead to something down the road.
While it in our nature to engage and interact with others, public speaking remains the number one fear of Americans. Networking may not be public speaking, but they share commonalties with each other and it involves a sense of vulnerability. Whether you find the concept of networking a bit intimidating or you pride yourself on being a socialbutterfly and knowing how to work a room, the following top-two networking tips will assist you in building a qualitylist of contacts to reach out to when it comes time for you to fill a position:
1. Develop an Online Network: LinkedIn.com is the most popular professional networking site online today. Membership is free and allows you to post your professional experience on the site in order to network with others. While working toward building your network, actively use the discussion forums to alert your contacts of your hiring need in the event that they know someone who meets the background you’re looking for. Think the 6-degrees of separation theory. Another medium to utilize is Twitter. Taking the concept of blogging and limiting it to 140 characters, Twitter allows you to “follow” other users updates in real-time. Companies such as Starbucks and Zappos are active users of the website. While the social media site is still fairly new, it still provides another outlet to tell others about your hiring need, you never know who may see it.
2. Attend Events: While it is always a challenge to find the time to get out and meet new people due to time constraints and the like, it’s necessary. Attempt to make it a goal to attend at least one networking event per month. When you do go, arrive early so you can identify who you want to speak with as they walk into the room. If time permits, speak with VIPs or speakers and be familiar with why they are receiving a particular recognition, etc. When talking with people, try to acknowledge your hiring need in a casual manner, don’t force it. Your goal is to make quality contacts, not to scare them off. If you do discuss your hiring need, ask for referrals to excellent search firms or recruiters that they may know who could assist you in your search. Even if you do not use them now, you could have future needs which require a recruiting authority to manage your search and it is always better to know of a reputable recruiting partner to work with ahead of time.
As most experienced hiring managers can attest to, the cost of an open position extends beyond the financialramifications to include opportunity costs and added stressors that emerge when a critical position remains vacant for extended periods of time. While networking is traditionally associated with the objective of leveraging contacts for business relationships and sales, there is no reason why, in addition to networking for business, you cannot network for hires. Moreover, the talent you would like to see working in your organization is typically already employed and won’t be found on a popular job board.
Networking in general requires commitment and patience. It is always best to begin building your list of contacts before you may need them not only to have the resource available when an occasion arises that permits working your network, but also to allow you time to form valuable partnerships with them before asking for favors. Recruiting in general is never an easy process and other techniques may need to be attended to correspondingly while networking to hire. Nevertheless, making the commitment to build your list of contacts in anticipation of soliciting them for assistance in the future will inevitably prove valuable, particularly if they know someone, who knows someone, who knows the perfect candidate for your position. Problem solved.