Back to basics. Tools like employment agency software and mobile devices are great, but top-notch staffing still relies on word-of-mouth more than anything else. And great word-of-mouth only happens when there are a lot of mouths willing to pass on information – a social network, in other words.
The #1 job of a staffing professional, then, is expanding his or her professional social network. That’s why it’s tough for rookies to get started in the industry – they simply haven’t had the time to build up a group of eyes and ears (and mouths) that can supply them with good clients and candidates. But veteran staffing professionals don’t have it easy. The ones I know are always thinking about ways to expand and better utilize their social networks.
A few tips on growing your social network, then, from this veteran staffing guy:
- Social media, social media, social media.If you haven’t started using it, start now. If you started but didn’t get anywhere with it, start again – and maybe find some online tutorials or get a social media savvy youngster to show you the ropes.A brief story says it all: A professional acquaintance (who is not in the staffing industry) checks his LinkedIn account about once per day. He somehow got “linked in” with a staffing pro – “I think I met her at a networking event,” he says – and notices her posts every week or so. They are nothing special – “Looking for a marketing professional with experience in the medical device industry,” for instance – and he’s never responded to any of them. But he knows a lot of people who are looking for work, and he’s ready to throw her a name if something clicks.Now multiply his eyes, ears, and mouth (and keyboard) by 1000, 2000, 3000. Thirty years ago, that was a word-of-mouth network that staffing pros could only dream of. Today it’s a reality experienced staffing pros and less experienced staffing professional who know how to use social media can both enjoy.
- Include everyone (at first). Your unemployed college roommate. Your unemployed college roommate’s mother. Your unemployed roommate’s mother’s financial adviser. All you need is their permission. Staffing is like sales: you just never know where that next great lead is going to come from, so your job is to maximize your contacts and your reach. You never know who will connect you to your next great candidate so treat everyone equal.
- Intelligently prune your list. Think like a banker with no money to lose. Start out by lending money – your contact information – to everyone. Some will ignore it, some will abuse it, but most will use it properly – or at least have it in the back of their minds, like my acquaintance above. Gradually cut out those who abuse it, cultivate those who prove to be good contacts, and leave the rest alone. Over time, you’ll build a network of great “borrowers” who give you a good return on your “investment” of time.
Implement these three ideas as you build your social network and soon you will find more quality candidates and clients dropping in your lap. It takes some work to get your social networks humming but every hour you put into it will pay dividends over time.