Cultivate Your Network to Attract Top Talent

This post is Part 3 in a Salesjournal Series on “Making Your Business Attractive to Top Talent.”  Part 1 asks “Is Your Business Attractive to Top Talent?” and Part 2 describes how to “Market Your Company and Positions to Attract Top Talent”, Part 4 details “3 Steps to Attract Top Talent Through Culture” and Part 5 asks “Want Top Talent? Rethink Benefits.”

networkingYou can’t rely solely on a job advertisement to attract top performers!  Finding the best people requires a systematic approach of outreach and relationship building that leverages your entire organization. Key components of a top talent strategy include: engaging your team, networking broadly, building your candidate list, and communicating on an ongoing basis.

Engaging Your Team

Top talent might be right under your nose!  When you consider that the average person has 393 first-degree LinkedIn connections and 130 Facebook friends, your own employees may be the key to attracting top talent.

Your employees are important in spreading the word about your company and the career opportunities it provides.  Assuming you are providing a positive, growing work environment, it may be as simple as keeping your team informed and making it easy for them to share information with their network.  Employees can use their personal profiles on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to share their excitement about where they work – posting pictures or information about company outings or community service events. Also, if you provide updates to employees on new hiring needs and send them links to job opportunities, it will make it easy for them to share this information with their friends.

Encourage your employees to spread the word by setting up an employee referral program that includes cash incentives if a referral is hired.  According to a recent report, referred workers are 20 percent less likely to quit their jobs and referrals continue to be a top source of hire.

In this social age, positive employee feedback can help you attract key people.  With insight into your company only a Google search away, communicating your employee brand across the broadest possible network of connections is the best way to control your message and create interest in a career at your firm.

Networking Broadly

We’ve all heard the saying “Always be Closing” in reference to selling.  But the best analogy in leading your business is “Always be Hiring.”  You need to have the mindset that your business could always use an upgrade and the responsibility for that upgrade starts with you.

As a leader, use your network of contacts. Keep your colleagues, friends, and connections warm by staying in touch by email or calls.  Comment on their social posts regularly.  Give more than you receive by sharing insight and value throughout the year.  By staying in front of your contacts, you build credibility and visibility for when you actually need to use those connections to help find a person to fill an important need.

Beyond your network of friends and colleagues, make yourself visible in the community and industry. Attend professional associations for your industry and get involved. Attend live events in your area with the purpose of meeting the types of people you would like to hire. Get involved, have fun, and show your colors in service projects for the community – showing first hand why it is great to work for your company.

No matter how you go about it, make daily networking a routine and always be looking for great talent around you.

Building Your List

Companies don’t think twice about building a database of prospective clients. You need to do the same with prospective employees.  Creating awareness through social media, your employees’ connections, and your own networking will undoubtedly spur people to reach out to you for a position. Make sure to set up a system that will efficiently move these prospects into your recruiting pipeline. Be sure to record the source of these candidates to track the success of the marketing strategies you employed to attract them.

Review incoming candidates against the characteristics that indicate high potential for success. Tag high potential candidates and file or categorize them for future consideration. The most important element to keeping a list is to be consistent about updating it. Organizing potential candidates now will ensure you won’t have to look far for new employees in the future.

If you don’t have a large list of potential candidates, but still need to find top talent, try retaining a recruiting firm. Specialized recruiters have often spent years creating a large database of talented sales people, engineers, or administrative resources.

Engage with Top Talent

The level of professionalism and enthusiasm your company projects to potential job candidates goes a long way in hiring the best.

Often the weakest link in creating a positive view of your company are your “gatekeepers” – the people or auto-responders who answer the phone calls, emails and applications of top performers. Do they rush candidates off the phone and direct them to “apply online”?  Do they “sell the candidate” on your business and make them feel welcome, or corral them into the masses and make them feel like a number?  You have expended lots of money and time to get them to call you – make it worth it.

Once talented candidates are identified, establish an ongoing dialogue with them. Communicate valuable information through job alerts, blog posts, email marketing and updated content on the company website. If strong candidates are in consideration for positions, keep them informed and interact professionally – keeping doors open for current and future opportunities.  With top candidates, it is often just a matter of timing when bringing them in for the right position.  By keeping in touch, you increase your odds of being at the top of their mind when they are ready to make a change.

These 4 tips are sure to improve your talent pool.  What other suggestions do you have for building your pipeline of talent?